Interview from Paris…designer Ora Ito

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My dear and very old friend Ito was made Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in Paris by the French Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand. This is a great honour in France and is given to individuals who significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance. Ito and I met as teenagers in Paris with not a worry in the world and would roam around the city with our crew getting up to no good.  When I received the invite in the post  for this great occasion I went to support my friend and I was very proud of him.  Bravo Ito! We talk about his beginnings in design,his projects, his beautiful home in Paris, more design and fashion….

How did you get into design?

I got into design as a kid. I took on  the big luxury brands  logo and identities (LV, Apple, etc) with no permission  and created models that did not exist.   I was the first person to put fake products on the internet  which created a huge confusion in the market as journalists would be writing about these products that did not really exist.  A young pirate. It all turned out well as my work was recognised by museums and I did not get sued.

What are your favourite projects?

I really like the evolution of my work. I am working at the moment on an interior of a Sabena plane , Airbus 312, which brings me into fields which I find fascinating- playing with gravity, the pressure factor,  the whole technology around it. Aerodynamics. This work will be exhibited at the Paris Air show at the Bourget in June. Also I am working on the interiors of Alstom trains. I like the direction where I am going now and hope to work more on big projects relating to space and territory.

Inspirations?

Nature and life in general.

You are about to open an hotel in Paris?

It’s still work in progress. It’s my own brand of hotels. It’s called O and I am opening the first  hotel in the 1st district in Paris not far from Place Victories and hoping to open all over France and then all over Europe. My hotels will be centrally located but the rates will be affordable. The rooms are little but very high tech.

What projects are you working on?

I am doing a sculpture with Citroen which will be exhibited in Via Montenapoleone in Milan in April. It is called Uf-O and spreads an uni­ver­sal mes­sage on the evo­lu­tion of the car in­dus­try and new di­rec­tions nev­er in­vesti­gat­ed be­fore.

And now let’s talk about your home. I’m always fascinated how designers decorate their own home. Every room is pretty different at your house: Japanese armour, life-sized gi­raffe of the sculp­tor Jean-Fran­cois Four­tou, Kolkoz gigantic frame, Xavier Veil­han ‘ s Mobile (the balloons suspended)how do you go about it?

My home is like my laboratory where I test the incorporation of the design pieces into an environment, how it sits in real life. I change the look of he place quite often. I don’t like the word decorate- I don’t decorate – I mix and match just like a scientist in laboratory. I like to put modern with ancient. Also every piece has an emotional memory  attached to it- some pieces I bought whilst I was traveling or I was given some as a present. My home is basically the home that I wanted when I was a kid but could not afford it.

Tell me please about your giraffe, I am absolutely obsessed with it- I remember you telling me in Monaco about it when you just got it?

It’s a trompe l’oeil. It plays with your perception, it’s sending you a message. You don’t know if the body is there or not. It lets you imagine what is behind the wall.

Is Artuditu the orginal from the Star Wars?

Yes.

You really like the 3rd district- is this why you moved there or because you found this beautiful house?

The house is an old 17th century Hotel Particulier and it has one of the most magnificent ceilings. The  feeling of being part of history of France. I want the essence of France in my home as I would want the essence of NY if I lived there- a factory loft or a an apartment with huge glass windows everywhere on the 60th floor. The concept of being close to the philosophy of the city you live in.

What fashion designers do you like?

I am not that into fashion but I do like conceptual designers such as Hussein Chalayan, Viktor&Rolf, Nicolas Ghesquiere. I used to really like Heidi Slimane- please come back I have nothing to wear!!!

Your style (fashion)?

Very classic. I like blue, grey, black colours- very simple clothes with a twist. I think attitude is more important than what you wear , if you don’t have a certain attitude the whole thing looks fake.

Favourite shops, restaurants, galleries, etc….

Collette is still the best. Thaddaeus Ropac and Emmanuel Perrotin for galleries. Not very original but a place where I have been coming for years and where I will always bump into million of my friends and have 6 hour lunches is Hotel Costes.

Where would you live apart from Paris?

London as it is so close. One can live in both cities as one, take the best from each one. Next step would be probably New York and I would like to finish in Los Angeles as I think I will need lots of space later on in my life.

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