By Karen Wong
Karen Wong is the Deputy Director at the New Museum and an Architizer A+ Awards juror. In an on-going series, she profiles the latest and most interesting architects, designers, and thought leaders to join the A+ jury. See her previous post on Google's Aaron Koblin here.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet three tall, striking, and aloof—or perhaps shy—Koolhaases. One is the Steve Jobs of the architectural world (Rem), one is a painter on an urban scale (Jeroen), and one is a shoe designer (Rem D.).
It’s a well-worn tale: Suffering from heartache, Rem D. Koolhaas designed his first shoe in hopes of winning back his beloved lass; instead, over the last decade, he’s built the cultish brand United Nude, selling more than 500,000 pairs of footwear annually in 10 stores around the globe. With a background in architecture and early training in his uncle’s office, Rem the Younger is less interested in the shoe as fashion staple than in pursuing a platform that combines his love for architecture, industrial design, and—yes, I’m going to be bold here—anime fetishism. Read more!
His designs are not for the faint of heart. Most women who favor United Nude are in the cultural disciplines and have bold and fabulous personalities. There is the classic slip-on sandal Mobius and the Eamz pump, both based on famous modernist chairs. In the autumn/winter 2012 season, Koolhaas’ dynamic sensibility is stretched even further with an homage to Georgia O’Keefe (the Tulip Hi bootie) and the outrageous Abstract Lasso—imagine a sawhorse mating with a workboot and, for good measure, add some studs.
Tulip Hi Bootie
In the previous century, furniture design, industrial design, fashion design, graphic design, environmental design, and architecture had their own tribes and rules. Today the fields are blurred, and hybridity is the new black. Koolhaas excels in harnessing a spirit of openness and applying his sensibility and wit to create a holistic and daring consumer experience. As he expands his repertoire from shoes to furniture, a car, clothes, and accessories (I’ve seen both sexes wear the Stealth cap to great effect)—pocketbooks beware.
Lo Res Project by United Nude
Lo Res Chair