The Ringmaster

Originally published in 

In February, Murray Moss closed his landmark SoHo design emporium to open a smaller headquarters. Now he’s pursuing a new agenda: marrying art and design in a 21st-century Wunderkammer.

Murray Moss portrait by Riccardo Vecchio

How are you using this new office, Moss Bureau?
I’m consulting, representing artists’ works and finding new outside venues for them, and using the bureau as an exhibition space. During ICFF, we installed Midway, by Cathy McClure: a spinning carousel and a giant Ferris wheel, each 10 feet in diameter with strobes. It’s all motorized, and the flashing lights project shadows so it looks like a circus. It’s kind of complicated, and it turns out I couldn’t load it into the elevator.

Midway installation by Cathy McClure at Moss Bureau
Visitors watch Cathy McClure's Midway installation at Moss bureau.
You’re going to force a lot of inter-actions by creating a performance arena out of such a small space.
It’s much more private. When we had the store, 2,000 or 3,000 people would show up to events—obviously we can’t do that now. But because we are not a store, we don’t have to follow the rules. We are more one-on-one here, which is the point of the bureau.
So what’s next for Murray Moss?
I will be consulting with Baccarat about their DNA and core identity. With the team in France, I’ll go through and edit the product lines, culling work from their glorious past and exploring new technologies for future applications.
Doug Argue painting and Julien Carretero bench
An auction that Moss is planning for October is "the most hugely complicated thing I've done," he says. He'll be pairing objects like a Doug Argue painting and a Julien Carretero bench, which both work in a "similar vocabulary of imperfect striation."
What project are you most excited about now that you have time to play?

Moss, the auction. This will be me pairing 100 lots of something “design” with something “art.” It’s what auction houses call a celebrity sale, and they are giving me total control. I will write the catalog, which will be a trip because I decided not to go with an art director and just do it in-house. I’m not an academic.
How do you define the relationship between design and art?
I have to break that barrier. I want to end the argument that art does not equal design. This segregation has to stop because it’s false. A design object can become a wall piece, and art, which is flat, can be seen in two or three dimensions. When you take it off the wall, does it becomes design? And I want to make an example of decorating where you match a Damien Hirst [painting] to your chair and vice versa. What’s wrong with it? I want to have that conversation. I’m going to get into a lot of trouble.
Any plans to host a salon series at Moss Bureau?

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