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Peripatetic as his multihyphenated professional life is, Pharrell Williams is streetwise enough to keep an eye on design everywhere he goes.
As Thursday’s National Design Awards were winding down (and his night was presumably starting up), the 38-year-old chatted about a few recent finds. Asked what has recently impressed him visually, Williams singled out a futuristic Kuala Lumpur house, and three in Singapore — the Sun House, the Fish House and the Tanga House — that he recently spotted in a book. The latter is bordered by an underground swimming pool that looks like an aquarium when guests are seated in the living room. Each of these four ultramodern properties has plenty of glass and greenery, giving residents an indoor-outdoor feeling. Keen to build a place of his own in Miami, Williams hopes to check out the Malaysia digs when he is in Asia in the spring.
As hard at work on the keyboards as he is with everyone from Jay Sean to Jay-Z, the singer-producer-composer-fashion designer said he is really into boats these days, but not regular, run-of-the-mill ones. He leans more toward vessels with grass decks that appear to be floating islands. Williams was also a big fan of Marc Newsom’s Aquariva design for speedboat maker Riva.
Design as he does for his Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Club labels, Williams recently made the fashion show rounds and was quick to applaud recent collections by Rei Kawakubo, Alber Elbaz and Marc Jacobs. “Every Comme des Garçons show is just perfection and Alber Elbaz is a genius, too. So is Marc Jacobs. I am so inspired by each one of them. They are totally imaginative. I wish to be that way one day.”
With a BBC store downtown and another in Hong Kong, Williams is eyeing China, where he has a loyal following, for additional stores. The brand’s Tokyo store was shuttered after the earthquake in Japan in March.
Williams plans to launch Billionaire Girls Club some time before spring 2013. Until then, T-shirts and fleece pieces will have to suffice. He is also collaborating with Ivy League’s former creative director Mark McNairy on shoes that will be released at the end of February. As a partner in Brooklyn Machine Works, Williams designs handmade bikes from time to time, like the customized $22,000 one he did with Bruno Domeau & Philippe Pérès that was offered at the Gagosian store on Madison Avenue before it closed earlier this month.
Given his air miles, it makes perfect sense that the Virginia Beach native is working on a book with Ambra Medda, co-founder and director of Design Miami and Design Miami/Basel — “Places & Spaces I’ve Been.” Having worked with Williams in the past, Paper magazine’s Kim Hastreiter said they will no doubt work together again. “He is gracious, smart, superhandsome and has an amazing style and eye,” she said.