When a client told architect and designer William T. Georgis that the powder room he designed was “too tasteful,” he suggested adding panels of mirrors that had been shattered by gunshots. “I can imagine an aging Joan Crawford walking in, looking into the mirror, and pulling a mother-of-pearl-handled pistol out of her clutch to obliterate the lies,” Georgis told Artsy about the vision behind these designs. He’s found great success through this daring approach, which runs throughout his practice, and within the homes of high profile clients. Named among Architectural Digest’s AD100 Designers and Architects in 2014, Georgis frequently works with art collections and commissions site-specific works, to create harmonious interiors marked by striking use of color, refined materials, and custom pieces. Georgis has translated this aesthetic into his first line of furniture, which launches at New York design gallery Maison Gerard this fall.
“I really see Bill as a modern day Dupré-Lafon,” Benoist F. Drut—Managing Partner at Maison Gerard—told Artsy. “There is an incredibly high and meticulous level of attention to detail and quality in everything he does; from the designs which are conceived specifically for each client and customized to the needs of the site, to the craftsmanship and materials used.” The new line is a dynamic melange of material—thick slabs of brass, wood salvaged from a sea wreck, velvet in jewel tones, and candy-colored epoxy—transformed into armchairs, sofas, and consoles. Artsy caught up with the designer to learn about the new collection and the inspirations behind his practice.
Artsy: The craftsmanship in your work is stunning. Can you tell us about the production and materials used in these works? Can you talk us through some of the works from this line?
William T. Georgis: The pieces are hand made by seasoned craftspeople with whom I’ve worked for 30 years. The Santa Sangre console is fabricated from reclaimed cypress (from a sea wreck) and epoxy. The Whalebone Sofa is made either of wood (a variety of species and finishes) or 1/2” thick plates of bronze (with a variety of finishes). Moby Dick was a formative text as a young adult and the anatomy of whales has haunted me ever since.
Artsy: What is it like to transition between architect and designer? Do you prefer one over the other?
WTG: I don’t feel I’m constantly changing hats between architect and designer—I design, period! I’m obsessed with the concept of gesamtkunstwerk or total work of art, where the architecture, interiors and landscape are all designed to reinforce one another.
Artsy: You’re known for working with art savvy clients. To what extent have art collections played into your architecture and design work? Can you talk about any experiences of commissioning art from contemporary artists and/or designers?
WTG: I’m fortunate to work with art collecting clients, many of whom are voracious collectors. This means the art is constantly changing and the spaces need to accommodate change. In addition to installing collections within my projects, I have commissioned such artists as George Condo, Virgil Marti, the Campana brothers, Michele Oka Doner, and Nancy Lorenz to make site-specific installations. This requires a leap of faith and a risk-taking client since you never know what you’re going to get. I also collaborate with artists on the design of specific pieces of furniture.
Artsy: Can you talk a bit about the mirrored surfaces that you’ve altered with gun shots? What are some other unique or unconventional practices you’ve carried out for projects?
WTG: The process is simple: go to the country or desert and shoot some mirrors … When I asked my clients if they were ready for shattered mirrors, they exclaimed, “YES!”
On another note, I designed an office suite for a client at the Seagrams building based on precious metals (gold and silver) and bodily fluids (blood and semen).