To celebrate the opening of the first store in New York for the LVMH-owned heritage brand, Moynat, its creative director Ramesh Nair enlisted the artist Daniel Arsham to collaborate on a bag. Arsham’s practice floats between art, design, and architecture, and for this collaboration he created a bag with a trompe l’oeil hole, allowing a peak into its owner’s world, exclusively available at the Madison Avenue store. Here the two creatives discuss how they met and what came of their collaboration.
Blake Abbie—How did you two first meet and how did this collaboration come about?
Daniel Arsham—We met through mutual friends. It was more than a year ago that I went to the Moynat atelier in Paris. One of the things that struck me both in terms of just seeing the atelier but also in seeing the character of what Ramesh does is that everything is really all handmade—you don’t have the sense of that with a lot of other brands which are making things. The attention of details, like the way the clasps work, and watching Ramesh in the studio interacting with the object and the care he takes with everything is quite similar in the way that I work in my own studio. So I felt a sort of kinship with that idea. And we started talking about collaboration and different ideas we could do and I started playing with this kind of tear into the bag, which is obviously something you wouldn’t want to happen. It was Ramesh who perfected in Paris with the prints studio the way the print is done. The hole is printed on there and the painting is what’s coming out of it.
Blake Abbie—And this one here is yours.
Daniel—This one is mine. Obviously it has my glasses, my camera—which is inside the bag now—and my Sharpie.
Ramesh Nair—Designers are inspired by art. I had seen what Daniel does and was fascinated. And I don’t know for what reason, but I thought Daniel was someone much older. When I saw your work, I always expected you to be 55 or 60 years old. There’s so much maturity in the way you work. In French we call it travaillé. It was a bit surprising that you were younger. It’s not something that you’d expect from someone as young as you. We really hit it off when we first met. It started with that. So when Daniel talked about this idea of the tear I loved it. For me and what I do at Moynat, we talk about a luxury and a perfection, objects which are really beautifully polished with a plastic coating: “Don’t touch it, it might get stained.” But here. Daniel came up with something which is a hole in a bag!
Daniel—What was also amazing in the studio in Paris is they have, like here, the old trunks. Ramesh went back and researched and found all these old Moynat trunks. And obviously you see they have the monogram on them and the colored stripes. I didn’t know what their purpose was, but it’s so that when you see the stack of trunks come off the train or the boat, you can identify your bag. People still do the monogram and the colors but now has no purpose. So this painting, for me, is the contemporary monogram. These are the things that represents you—in some ways better than your initials or a color palette.
Ramesh—It’s so much more personal, it’s so much more you. Sometimes I look at it, and we are thinking now you may have a rip in your jeans with your leg showing through. This is similar. And it’s the continuation of the collaboration between Moynat, Daniel, and now the customer, who decide what goes into the hole.
So this painting is the contemporary monogram. These are the things that represents you—in some ways better than your initials or a color palette.
Blake—Looking at your bag, Daniel, you can see that it’s yours. Those are your glasses—that is recognizable. Ramesh, what is in your bag?
Ramesh—I still need to make my bag. I need to think of something very interesting! Daniel sent me an image from his friend’s, Virgil Abloh’s, credit card. And we did that for him.
Daniel—But you changed the numbers, you told me.
Ramesh—Daniel called and asked, “Is it the exact numbers of his card?” And I said, “Yes it is.” So we had to change it. [Laughs].
Daniel—Thank god! We went to the print shop which is where the print of the original bag was done. This tear looks really simple, but it took six months to get the shadow to look right. The illusion is really specific.
Ramesh—That took 10 silkscreens to make.
Daniel—Just to do the gradient of the shadow it took 10 different silkscreens. Can you imagine that each silkscreen is just one single pass of color? This is sort of the beginning of a larger collaboration, which we are developing. We’re still working on a couple of different other pieces which will be premiere in the fall. I think you’ll see with the new pieces that we’re working on, they have a lot more nuance in terms of material. They’re not on an existing piece. They are new. You have items in the same categories but with new functions.
Ramesh—It was interesting, we were just talking about ideas throwing things at each other, “Let’s try this and that.” I think that’s what is so fantastic. We have big plans.