“You know they say, ‘people who collect chairs never sit down,’” laughs in rare non-standing form at the showroom off Fifth Avenue. The jet-setter is the president and creative director of his mother’s eponymous label and designer of his own luxury line of accessories (both known for their use of exotic skins, notably crocodile), doesn’t even have a desk… though, a plethora of chairs certainly makes up for it. “I don’t even remember when I started buying chairs.” His extensive trove extends from the showroom to his homes in Paris, New York City and Colombia, and overflow fills storage spaces in various reaches of the globe. “The collection is not focused at all,” he admits when he sees a seat that speaks to him, he just has to have it. Favorites include a set of ancient sculptures that function as furniture… well sort of. “What I’m using as dining chairs right now are actually 8 Ai Wei Wei fairytale chairs which the Chinese artist presented in Documenta in 2007, from the Chang Dynasty 1000 BC. I don’t know if this noble idea is going to work because every time I sit on them they make a sound,” he says with a casual shrug. “We actually called my conservator to see if there is any way she can reinforce them—maybe they aren’t meant to be sat on.” While other pieces in his collection are contemporary like a shopping cart-shaped chair by artist Frank Schreiner dit Stiletto aptly called “Consumer Rest.” At first I wouldn’t bring it to the office, because I thought it would be bad luck,” he jokes. “We obviously do not want consumers to rest.” Some even Gonzalez conceptualized himself. “These were just chairs from the flea market in Paris that I sent to Colombia to have covered in crocodile.” So it’s like you’re sitting on a Nancy Gonzalez handbag? I ask. “Almost,” he quips.
Santiago Barberi Gonzalez at the Nancy Gonzalez New York showroom stands with Missing Object by Konstantin Grcic, 2004 (left) and Sitting and Seating chair by Martino Gamper, 2008 (right).
Vintage chair found in the Paul Bert flea market in Paris. Re-worked by Santiago and upholstered in Nancy Gonzalez crocodile.
Nancy Gonzalez Crocodile Bucket Bag on Alligator Chair by Campana Brothers, 2004.
Nido D'oro by Andrea Salvetti, 2006.
Nancy Gonzalez crocodile Cristina bag sitting on Fresh Fat easy chair by Tom Dixon, 2001 surrounded by the Nancy Gonzalez Fall/Winter 2014 collection.
Nancy Gonzalez Plissé tote in crocodile and leopard printed calf hair sitting in Gaetano Pesce's La Michetta day bed.
Consumer Rest chair by Frank Schreiner dit Stiletto, 1991 filled with colorful Nancy Gonzalez clutches surrounded by the Nancy Gonzalez Fall/Winter 2014 collection.
Array of colorful Nancy Gonzalez crocodile clutches and crocodile letter charm in Consumer Rest chair by Frank Schreiner dit Stiletto, 1991.
Chair bookcase by Martino Gamper, 2009.
Sitting and Seating chair by Martino Gamper, 2008 with Nancy Gonzalez chain mink clutch in blush, yellow, and pink.
Nancy Gonzalez crocodile Wallis handbags sitting on a pair of Rita armchairs by Martino Gamper surrounded the Nancy Gonzalez Fall/Winter 2014 collection.