“Nothing Is Fragile”: Willo Perron on His New Comfort-Focused Collection

You’ve probably already seen Willo Perron’s work, even if you don’t realize it. The multihyphenate designer, whose work fluctuates in size and scale while possessing a sleek, minimalist through line, is an industrious force with a CV as varied as it is star-studded. He created a flying Ferrari for Drake’s tour with Migos, won a Grammy for best recording package for St. Vincent’s album Masseduction, designed a pop-up store for Kim Kardashian, fashion shows for Rihanna, offices for Jay-Z, and, with Kanye West, creative-directed the 2018 PornHub Awards.

His latest show, No Coasters, is decidedly earthbound. Taking elemental cues from Southern California, where Perron has lived for nearly 20 years, his new collection of furniture is all about “comfort, comfort, comfort.” The work, on view now through November 20 at Matter, is equal parts playful and practical. A cream-colored “Dino Table” and matching bench are sturdy enough to withstand everything from wine glasses to toddlers, as usability is top of mind for Perron.

Ahead of the show’s opening, Perron chatted with VF about the ’70s cartoons that inspired the furniture, why no one would want to rob his house, and why it’s best to get tactile.

By Marco Galloway.

By Marco Galloway.

Vanity Fair: You’ve been living in Southern California for about 20 years. Why now did you choose to create work inspired by that space?

Willo Perron: My home is this really serene place, and I find so much solace there. LA offered that to me. I’m not a pro-LA person by any stretch of the imagination, I love it [in New York City] and I love it in Europe. It just happens that my home is in Los Angeles. I think it permitted me to decompress to then create these things that are meant to exist in a serene, zen kind of way. The Southern California aspect of it comes from the desert color palette—mostly beiges and taupes and browns.

The philosophy of the show, No Coasters, signifies that these objects are meant to be lived in. Whereas in a gallery or museum setting, audiences can be very apprehensive about interacting with something, even if it’s an explicitly interactive experience. Would you say this show stands in direct opposition to that apprehension?

Yes. Nothing’s fancy. The only thing that makes this maybe a little fancy is I care about quality and materials and construction, so there’s an inherent cost. But everything’s meant to be used. You can walk on the table. Nothing is fragile. I think the gift of modernism was that they used things that were really functional and practical, and those things are beautiful. That’s how I approach most things. People at my house are always like, “Should I put a coaster under that?” I’m like, “No, absolutely not.” If we’re not far enough in time that we can’t make a table that you can put a glass of red wine on, we’ve just really done ourselves disfavor. We have self-driving cars, but we can’t make a table that you can put that glass of red wine on?

That reminds me of Jane Birkin’s Birkin bag—she put stickers on it and tied beads around it. It’s regarded as a very high-class object, but its namesake treats it like any other bag.

It’s utilitarian for her. Maybe in time these objects will become fetishized or collectibles, but in the present, they’re meant to be used as much as humanly possible. Everything I do is for comfort and amusement and enjoyment.

By Marco Galloway.

Do you ever consider how these objects, as well as all the work that you’ve created, will live on in a digital space, on Instagram or TikTok?

I think what’s more interesting is owning a physical thing. I always say there’s nothing to rob from my house. What are you going to take? There’s some artwork, but unless you know who it is, it’s valueless to you. What, are you going to take a couch? You can’t drag out a marble table. The value of objects is moving further and further away. I think what will happen is things will become simpler—the home will become more about these essential things. People are going to get further and further away from ornamentation because they’ll have decorated something in the metaverse. That’s where all those items are. They’re not physical things that they need to schlep around from house to house or apartment to apartment.