Tom Ford and Ron Radziner

Interview with Tom Ford and Ron Radziner.

In this month’s issue of Wallpaper*, our favourite fashion icons choose an architect that inspires them or their work. To accompany this portfolio, over the next 10 days will feature 10 exclusive interviews with the designers and their architects of choice.

Wallpaper*: How can architecture help sell fashion?

Tom Ford: I think of my stores as being stage sets, so it is important that the architecture doesn’t overshadow the fashion. So the feel of the space is more important than the actual lines. In a store you should only notice the volume of the space. Although, personally, I like to live with challenging architecture, the same approach isn’t necessarily right for my stores. To be honest, great architects aren’t necessarily great decorators.

W*: Do you have a favourite building?

TF: My absolute favourite architect is Mies van der Rohe. Although I have never been there, I love the Tugendhat House in Brno in the Czech Republic and I have pored over pictures of it so many times. And, of course, I love the Farnsworth House, too.

W*: What sort of architecture do you think reflects your aesthetic?

TF: Again, Mies van der Rohe. With Mies, God was in the detail. I find the idea of chromed I-beams in the Tugendhat House so simple but so luxe. Refined minimalism – this is what excites me as a designer.

W*: What were your reasons for selecting Ron Radziner?

TF: I first got in contact with Ron after having visited the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. I was so impressed by the refurbishment that I called him up and subsequently met up with him in LA to discuss working on my Richard Neutra house together. We worked on the theme of refined minimalism. Obviously the standards of construction in the 1950s were not exactly great, so we bumped up the quality of the materials used and the finishes. So, for example, where Neutra had specified pale blond wood in the original drawings, we replicated it in walnut.

W*: Have you done any other projects together?

TF: We are now working on our fourth house – though we have never worked on a store together. We make a good team. I always think the best results come from a strong architect working with a strong client. And I am a strong client!

W*: What is your favorite city and why?

TF: I have so many favourites, but I have to say I think the residential architecture in Los Angeles is wonderful. There is nowhere else quite like it, with the work of architects as diverse as Greene & Greene, Rudolf Schindler and Frank Gehry. People had the money and they built their fantasies. Another city I adore is Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I am in the process of building a house. The city has this amazing architectural unity thanks to its pueblo adobe style of construction.

W*: How difficult is it to combine your vision with that of someone whose vision may be equally strong?

Ron Radziner: In theory, it could be difficult if you worked with someone with a particularly different view of design, but Tom and I work well together because we see space in a similar way. It’s wonderful when you’re working with someone with a very strong visual sense. They can easily and quickly understand the design concept, so we can have an open, honest conversation about various aspects of the design. If someone doesn’t have that visual sensibility, you end up spending a lot of time explaining.

W*: Has this house build been a memorable event?

RR: We have worked on five residences for Tom, and each has been memorable. It has been wonderful to work with a client that shares a deep interest in the total design. We’ve been able to develop a strong architectural vision and see it through, down to the last detail of a door knob. There’s a huge challenge in taking a design vision down to that level of detail, but in the end it has a tremendous effect on the experience of the space.