Design as the Marker of Time
Award-winning furniture designer John Reeves sheds light on his lifelong obsession with an object’s cultural individuality during an intimate talk at the artist haunt known as Salon Saigon.
The winner of the ELLE Decoration Design Award and other international accolades, furniture designer John Reeves has called Saigon his home for the last 14 years. Driven by the conviction that the design we surround ourselves with speaks not only of our character but also our culture, he has made a name for himself as a creator of pieces seen all over the world that tell a story of their time. At a recent talk given at Salon Saigon, a restored French-colonial mansion turned exhibition space, he shed light on his processes and productivity.
“I’m a son, a brother, a friend, who happens to also design furniture,” Reeves answers when asked to describe himself. Born into a vicarage in northern England, he grew up steeped in a spiritual and cultural heritage that spanned generations. “I questioned the worldly nature of objects,” he remembers. “Handed down furniture, in all its poignancy, is full of sentimental touchstones imbued with stories from a distant past.” Drawing on shintoism — which is based on the belief in kami: the sacred or mystical element which is in everything — Reeves’s work today continually searches for the soul of the object. It’s a quest he puts in large part down to one of the biggest influences in his life, his time spent with a Sudanese refugee who traversed the world from Cairo to England before turning up on Reeves’s doorstep. Reeves – then just a 14-year-old boy – enlisted his help in making “the absolute best bow and arrow,” the elegant object treasured by civilisations worldwide, learning life lessons and principles from the real-life warrior and huntsman that never left him.
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looking at fashion as fine arts, architecture, anthropology, an extreme form of human performance.