'There is no formula,' remarks visionary entrepreneur Ralph Pucci about his design philosophy. The same could be said of the man's career, now the subject of show, a recently released book. Pucci-who conquered the furniture industry by unlikely way of his family's mannequin business-continues to surprise design fans with daring projects, including his latest: a chair by longtime collaborator Vladimir Kagan made of the same fiberglass as the firm's dynamic store dummies.
The 25,000-square-foot Ralph Pucci International showroom in New York City serves not only as a gallery but also as a contemporary salon. 'The space attracts so many creative people,' he says, including his expanding roster of cutting- edge painters, sculptors, designers, and furniture makers. 'You need a wow factor, but it should come from the quality,' he adds. 'I look for strength and simplicity.' Far from tracking trends, Pucci draws inspiration from the constants of his everyday life, whether the 'deceptively plain' pastas at his favorite restaurants, Da Silvano and Basta Pasta; the graceful movements of athletes; or the inimitable Miles Davis. 'Jazz is timeless,' he says. 'Furniture, too, should be of the moment - but lasting.'
1. A 5:30 A.M. swim before work, the perfect way to start the day. When it gets cold, I switch to the treadmill.
2. A great NBA game. Any one featuring Kobe Bryant or LeBron James will do.
3. Family vacations: Christmas in Barbados, summers in Italy.
4. Visiting museums. Two favorites are the Dia in Beacon, New York, and the Noguchi Museum in Queens, both in amazing industrial spaces.
5. The music of Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, and Keith Richards - and the Village Vanguard, the best jazz club in the world.
6. A good biography. I just finished reading one of Francis Bacon.
7. Men's clothing by Gianluca Isaia - and modern but not trendy.
8. Jean-Michel Frank Furniture.
9. The art galleries in Berlin. They prove you don't need money to create a unique scene.
10. Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. The hotel has soul that cannot be duplicated.
11. The sculpture of Constantin Brancusi and Henry Moore.
12. A 1986 Cartier watch my wife gave me on our tenth anniversary. I wear it every day.
By Samuel Cochran