Thoughts on this Balenciaga clothes-stuffed sofa

Have you ever made out on a couch covered with pants, jeans and suspiciously-stained T-shirts? That, but make it fashion.

by Mahoro Seward
27 November 2019, 11:15am


If you, like me, have or have ever had a regrettable penchant for hot, sleazy stoners, the scenario I’m about to describe will no doubt be a familiar one. Lured by a cocky 1am ‘u up?’ like a moth to a flame, you hop in an Uber to make out on some sagging sofa, covered in dirty clothes. Pants, denim that’s definitely never seen a washing line, suspiciously stained t-shirts—whatever’s on there, it’s enough to trigger an existential angst that forces you to question how on God’s green earth you ended up here. Now, reader, take that gruelling memory, and make it fashion!

Because that’s exactly what architect and interior designer and Harry Nuriev and Balenciaga have teamed up to do, stuffing a transparent vinyl couch with scraps and cast-offs of the brand’s clothes! Why, you ask? Art! The sofa will be making its glitzy debut at Design Miami, held concurrently to Art Basel: Miami Beach.

‘No, but seriously: why?’ Come come, now. If you’re really so obsessed with matters as banal as an object’s ‘purpose’, then perhaps this *BALENCIAGA* *STUFFED* *COUCH* just isn’t for you. Then again, if you are hellbent on finding a function for what is a very large piece of ironically-hideous-living-room-ornamentation, then yes, you could, like, sit on it. And where practicality’s concerned, not only does the transparent vinyl cover allow you to see all of the Balenciaga clothes you’re sitting on—it also saves said Balenciaga clothes that you are sitting on from red wine, or whatever other fluids you might be spilling on there.

That said, not much else about this sitting room sculpture invites, well, sitting. While its L-shape—rescued from Nuriev’s “trash library of shapes”, says Nuriev—might imply comfort and cosiness, the sofa is so ergonomically skewiff that it can only have been the work of sociopath, or a deep dream generated vision of a Simpsons’ couch gag. Far from being an ideal spot for some winter cuffing, the fact that it only offers one proper back support means that anyone else sitting on the plush, plastic sofa requires posture as stiff as the mannequins in Balenciaga’s stores.

On the topic of mannequins, if the memories of regrettable sofa top canoodlings didn’t send shivers up your spine, this just might. At the couch’s core lies a mannequin base, around which garments from Balenciaga collections over several years have been delicately wrapped, as if part of some dystopian exercise in high-end mummification. In this light, Vogue’s description of the designer’s aesthetic as “retro Soviet influence meets an artistically inclined Patrick Bateman” takes on a freshly sinister ring...

Nonetheless, credit should be given to the couch where it’s due, particularly for its sustainability credentials. The result of an official collaboration between artist and brand, it demonstrates an, um, refreshing approach to the array of damaged, unsold and leftover pieces that large houses inevitably accrue. Also, if you’re going to make dresses that look like sofa cushions anyway, why not just go the whole hog and make a couch instead?

Art Basel
thoughts on