Cassina’s furniture as seen through the lens of Karl Lagerfeld

On the left cover of Cassina as seen by Karl, on the Right Karl holding a chair
Left, cover of Cassina as seen by Karl. Right, Portrait of Karl Lagerfeld, featuring the ‘Superleggera’ chair, by Gio Ponti. Photography: Karl Lagerfeld
(Image credit: Karl Lagerfield)

Karl Lagerfeld, one-time guest editor of Wallpaper*, is a fan of Cassina furniture. He’s been collecting pieces from the Italian stalwart for half a century – his first ‘order’ was the famous ‘LC4’ chaise longue by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in the 1960s. Having lived with, laid upon, and loved, each piece he has owned, Lagerfeld was the ideal photographer for a new photobook, Cassina as seen by Karl that documents (and salutes) the brand’s 90-year history.

It’s the first time Lagerfeld has collaborated with a furniture manufacturer on a venture of this nature, where his favourite design references would ‘pose’ in front of the lens. The project was entrusted to him in 2013, alongside Gerhard Steidl. The renowned German publisher, who has been involved at every turn, printed the limited edition photos which were first shown at first in the Cassina Saint-Germain showroom during Paris Design Week, and then internationally. Now, the dynamic snaps have been stuck into a beautifully leather-bound commemorative publication by hand, imbuing it with an uncommon sense of fragility, not dissimilar to that of a treasured family photo album.

'Nuage' bookcase, by Charlotte Perriand for Cassina photographed by Karl Lagerfeld

‘Nuage’ bookcase, by Charlotte Perriand. Photography: Karl Lagerfeld

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfield)

Described as an ‘anthology of haute-couture design’, Cassina as seen by Karl features pieces from Lagerfeld’s own collection, including the Le Corbusier-Jeanneret-Perriand masterwork, and the ‘Auckland’ armchair by Jean-Marie Massaud. Arranged in graphic compositions, the familiar shapes are seen as if for the first time. Chairs are stacked in colourful jumbes, bookshelves talk to each other, a table becomes the protagonist on a darkened stage. It’s a book, says Steidl, that ‘rivals Cassina’s furniture in terms of quality materials, craftsmanship and longevity.’

Indeed, Lagerfeld’s passion is punched into the pages. ‘I had never worked on this kind of project,’ he says. ‘To visually reinterpret examples of perfect design is completely new for me, and therefore stimulating, exciting even.’

The publication – which will please both furniture fans and Lagerfeld lovers – presents a rare picture of the storied aesthete as not just a designer, but a design devotee.

Zig zag chairs

‘Zig Zag’ chairs, by Gerrit T Rietveld. Photography: Karl Lagerfeld

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfield)

On the left there is a zig zag chair and on the right there are superleggera chairs

Left, ‘Zig Zig’ chair, by Gerrit T Rietveld. Right, ‘Superleggera’ chairs, by Gio Ponti. Photography: Karl Lagerfeld

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfield)

A 276 Aspen sofa

‘276 Aspen’ sofas, by Jean-Marie Massaud. Photography: Karl Lagerfeld

(Image credit: Karl Lagerfield)

INFORMATION

Cassina as seen by Karl, published by Gerhard Steidl. For more information, visit the website (opens in new tab)

Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.