Ken Fulk, Creative Director of Ken Fulk Inc, talks fashion, Warhol and his special creation for New York Fashion Week: The Shows — in conjunction with E! and Andy Warhol@Christie’s online auction
Described by Instagram’s CEO as the ‘go-to creative resource’ in Silicon Valley, San Francisco-based designer Ken Fulk’s latest venture has been to curate the lounge for a special partnership between New York Fashion Week: The Shows, E! and Andy Warhol@Christie’s, an online auction that takes place from 8-16 February.
Renowned for his layered interiors and over-the-top parties, Fulk leads a team of 50 ‘magic makers’ — a mix of architects, designers, branding and event specialists — to help bring his ideas to life. ‘To suddenly find myself celebrating both fashion and New York — two great loves — is a dream come true,’ says Fulk, who has become a curator of lifestyles, not only designing homes, restaurants and hotels, but also choreographing spectacular weddings, parties and even family getaways.
Of course, Andy Warhol incorporated fashion, art, and, the cult of celebrity into everything he did. Through his magazine Interview, he forged personal relationships with designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, and models including Jerry Hall and Bianca Jagger. He dined with Diana Vreeland, shopped with Halston in London and partied with Diane von Furstenberg. Everyone from designers to socialites vied to have their portrait taken by him.
E!, which was launched in 1987, the same year that pop culture lost its most important provocateur, will be broadcasting New York Fashion Week: The Shows. The channel’s studios at Skylight Clarkson Square, as well as the lounge, café and lobby spaces, will be decorated with works from Christie’s Andy Warhol @ Christie’s online auction.
Below, we talk to Ken Fulk about fashion, Warhol, and how he has drawn from both for his bespoke design for NYFW.
What does New York Fashion Week mean to you?
Ken Fulk: ‘Well, it sort of encapsulates everything I deemed glamorous growing up in rural Virginia. I’ve been obsessed with fashion my entire life — selecting my own wardrobe from the time I was six years old! Plus, the standard answer I would give when I was asked where I wanted to live when I grew up was always, “A penthouse in Manhattan”.’
Are you a fan of Warhol’s work — and have any of your previous projects incorporated his art?
KF: ‘Absolutely a fan, particularly of the Polaroids and silkscreen portraits. We frequently use art as a jumping-off point, whether it’s a client’s existing art collection, an iconic image or works we’ve purchased. A few years ago, we were asked to design an installation at L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills, and the entire concept was seeded by Warhol’s famous portrait of Halston with a cigarette.’
What are your top tips for hanging works of art — and especially a large number of works on a single wall?
KF: ‘Don’t worry too much about consistency. There should be a sense of tension in any type of display, whether it’s in the subject matter or the frames, the tones, and the period of the works. As long as there are enough works to create a real impact, the pattern — visual or conceptual — will reveal itself as you begin to assemble it.’
‘Making the impossible a reality’ is one of your maxims — can you talk us through your thinking for hanging the works in lounge areas at Skylight Clarkson Square for New York Fashion Week?
KF: The first element that we conceived for this warehouse space was the idea of highly decorative wall treatments that would look like plaster walls with elaborate carved-wood moulding and trim — a look that instantly telegraphs an elegant parlour in a great pre-war apartment. We also envisioned a Pop-inspired colour scheme that would reference the Warhols in the space. We wanted to create an unexpected yet suitably reverent frame for the works.’
It’s been said that, ‘If Andy shot you, it was everything, and when he captured himself, it was even more.’ What do you think Warhol would have made of our Instagram age?
KF: ‘Warhol was a provocateur and he called out the power of advertising with such prescience. It's hard to say whether he would have loved this new medium for self-promotion, or if he would have found a way to co-opt it as commentary and use it as a mirror for the rest of us.’
You work out of a building called the Magic Factory. How much does the collaborative approach of your design think tank owe to Warhol’s legendary Factory set-up?
KF: Long ago, I had this grand idea that we would create a design factory of sorts — a place where a diverse bunch of inspired, creative folks could gather without the constraints of a traditional workplace and without the limitations of a standard interior design studio. I liked the reference to Warhol's Factory as well as the idea that we were truly ‘making’ things by hand — which we do! We found the physical space in a nearly 16,000-square-foot brick-and-timber building that was formerly the home to San Francisco’s infamous S&M shop, Mr. S. Leather. And over the years, we’ve carved out a creative niche for a business that spans interiors, architecture, events, branding, graphic design and fine art.
Finally, if you could own one work by Warhol from the sale, which would it be and why?
KF: ‘Without a doubt the Liza [Minnelli] and Halston portrait. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting Liza on a few occasions — even bringing her once to a friend’s holiday party unannounced. Needless to say we made quite the entrance!’
Follow Ken Fulk on Instragam — @kenfulk — or visit www.kenfulk.com