Architect and furniture designer Giancarlo Valle doesn’t confine himself to one era or look, whether he’s designing a space or a piece of furniture. “The way I collect is not specific to a period or style, but about looking at the fringe and transition of those styles,” he says. “[It’s about] finding pieces that move between eras, whether it’s French modern, primitive American Art Deco, or African tribal.”
With the recent launch of a furniture gallery and a series of limited-edition pieces, Valle is well on his way, establishing himself as not only an architect who dabbles in design, but a designer in his own right. He’s planned numerous spaces and retail concept stores for fashion designers, so furniture has always been a large component of his work. But with the opening of his online store and by-appointment-only Tribeca gallery and the creation of his first piece of furniture, the Smile Chair, Valle is not only curating pieces for specific spaces but also breathing life into furniture that a select few can take home.
“Aside from antiques and historical furniture, I also wanted to offer new things that had more of my point of view,” he explains. “That’s where my new furniture collection fits in. I’m very specific about the pieces I collect and say, ‘If I can live with them, they are good enough for my clients.’”
The Smile Chair evolved from a private commission, but ultimately “became more of an experiment to play with the proportions and some new textures.” He continues, “I believe that the ideas of design and furniture belong to a design world instead of a single individual. Anyone is free to use them as they wish. It’s more about what you do with it and that point of view than creating works of art in isolation.”
The cheerful piece, which according to Valle almost gives you a hug when you sit in it, is made of shearling and suede—an example of the refined-yet-fun and relaxed vibe of the full Copacati collection to come. The designer likes that it serves as a conversation piece in the midst of the antiques that he sells, that it provides a new context and shape.
A history buff who loves working with old buildings, bringing the past and history into a new era and telling a story through design, it’s no surprise Valle has created furniture that evokes an almost rustic vibe despite its sculptural, oversized, chunky first impression. The name of the collection is a nod to his personal history—his family is from Peru, and Copacati is the name of an Incan goddess. But like his approach to architecture, he finds a way to honor tradition and history while lending his own perspective to the furniture he creates. “I’m interested in designers who were perhaps known for a particular thing,” he says, “but then tried something different, whether it was a success or not. Ultimately, it has to speak to me.”
For more information, please visit GiancarloValle.com.