In a time before John Galliano, Maison Martin Margiela was often considered a minimalist brand par excellence. Its ethos of whitewashing (as un-PC as that sounds today) applied to its headquarters, ateliers, stores, and product, so as to remove identity and ego from the equation of creation. Make of it what you will, was the message.
As much as I love Galliano’s work for the house, I still do miss the aesthetic and idiosyncratic humor of Martin Margiela. In the fashion, that meant making clothes out of wigs, gloves, and anything you could tear apart and put back together, really. In the shoes, it meant taking a traditional Japanese form and making it a fashion signature since then virtually uncopied.
In the homeware, however, it meant distilling those elements of the brand into trinkets to leave around the house. The line – 13, or objets, on the brand’s numerical system – manages to be all at once simple, absurd, and devastatingly chic. Take for instance the snow globes, which make a sort of ironic festive piece with nothing but the snow inside. No Christmas trees, no Santas, no reindeers. It’s quite literally a globe with bits of fake snow inside.
Or the trompe-l'œil wallpaper stickers. Which have, printed on them, images of French doors and hallways. The trick is that they’re shots of the typical Haussmannian doorways and corridors. It’s got that same witty longing that the house has in employing la blouse blanche of haute couture ateliers as its staff’s uniform.
Other charming absurdities include: a hefty weighted ostrich egg, a twisted spoon for tables, stickers for the floor, bells, and a cloth-bound clock. The egg is quite charming because it looks like a fancy curio, yet functions most mundanely as a door stopper or paper weight. The spoon is wonderful because it doubles as a tablecloth grip and a very stylish ashtray.
Those floor stickers are printed to look like black marble cabochons, in case your tiles disappoint you and a complete remodelling of your home is out of the question. The bells – Edo bells, to be precise – are a beautiful minimalist version of a gently twinkling Japanese item. And the cloth bound clock… well, just because the house’s white muslin has an inherently wabi quality to it.
None of these pieces have any sense of necessity to them, but there’s appeal in their pointlessness. It’s funny, it’s extra, and I want it all.