Willo Perron’s Debut Furniture Show Makes the Case for a “No Coasters” Design Movement
With everything he does, the Los Angeles–based designer and creative director Willo Perron always considers the macro and the micro. From the L.A. headquarters of Roc Nation, to Stüssy stores around the world (including in Kyoto, Milan, and Shanghai), to the set build-outs for Rihanna’s and Drake’s latest tours, to album art for those same artists, to the branding and art direction for the non-alcoholic aperitif company Ghia, Perron has an adroit ability to work across many scales.
As he sees it, though, his approach is less about scale than about how a design is ultimately felt—and through which senses. “When I’m designing for a show, I’m thinking about how the person thirty feet away will receive the experience,” he says. “With a product, it’s much more about how something feels right in your hand. It’s really a question of how you’re communicating: through light and sound, or through touch and smell.”
With his latest exhibition, “No Coasters,” presented by Matter Projects in New York’s Soho neighborhood and on view through November 30, Perron has built a world that somehow invites us to experience both a sense of larger-than-life spectacle and something intimate. Making their public debut, Perron’s interior pieces—a “pillo” couch, a table and chairs made of Moroccan plaster, a bed, and a “sausage” sofa (more on the latter shortly)—are presented in an exterior landscape created by backdrops, hung throughout the space, that nod to the deserts of Southern California, but also form an environment that’s unlike anywhere in the real world. Within Matter Project’s walls, Perron’s pieces roam like creatures in a surreal ulterior landscape.
As we walk through the space, Perron insists I take a seat in the sausage sofa. Though he says it’s a nod to a bean-bag sofa from his childhood, I can now say from experience that it’s certainly much more comfortable than any old bean bag, having accepted his invitation to try it out. As is clear from the show’s “No Coaster’s” title, there’s a welcoming, unpretentious, no-frills approach and generosity to Perron’s furniture work. He views “No Coasters” as something of a movement: a commitment to design for use.
When I ask him what’s next, Perron is quick to assure that he’ll be continuing on in the furniture space, and that modular pieces are in the works. These pieces, he says, will be meant “for everything but eating—and maybe even eating,” and to really be lived in, not a coaster in sight.