Fabulous Indeed

William T. Georgis talks process

Michele Oka Doner, William T. Georgis, Robert Wennet and Mario Cader-Frech at the Wolfsonian Museum Photo by Manny Hernandez

“Most of the clients I work with are serious collectors and what I mean by that is many of the clients are compulsive and obsessive about purchasing art and they can’t help themselves from buying more,” said William T. Georgis during a recent pre-Basel jaunt to Miami. He was in town to promote his new book, Make it Fabulous (The Monacelli Press), at a fashionable book signing event at the Wolfsonian.

Georgis would understand the mindset of a collector. He and partner Richard Marshall own a prolific collection. In their New York townhouse, they display works from Julian Schnabel, Alex Katz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ed Ruscha and Bruce Nauman.

“There is no stasis,” he continued. “You don’t know what is going to be on a wall. It’s constantly going to change. For certain clients,
this means you create a neutral space to work with all kinds of art.”

This insight comes from a four-time AD 100 architect and designer who not only creates space for those who covet art, but also one who uses art as a central component of his designs.

From Georgis townhouse: Living room with Shearling run, Georgis-designed zebra-silk-velvet slipper chairs, Maison Jansen Coromandel-topped coffee table, Julian Schnabel painting, vintage disco ball and marble fireplace.

Georgis works with artists in a number of ways – sometimes by purchasing art for a specific project; other times he works with artists collaboratively, often commissioning talent to create site specific pieces.

“At some point I am tired of listening to my own voice,” he said, “so I like to include other people in the dialogue. It’s very exciting when artists help to create environments within a project of mine. I often work with Michele Oka Doner who is a local artist in Miami and also in New York. We work on site-specific pieces or furniture. She is spectacular.”

Georgis, like many great creators, allows the process to do its work on him. This freedom is evident in his working relationship with Oka Doner.

“The process of working with Michele begins with spending time in her studio and seeing what she is working on in the moment, and then working collaboratively,” he explained. “I recently brought her in on a development in Soho to design different aspects of the project. Working with her is extraordinary. She is exciting. She is visual. She adds a lot to the process.”

Georgis appears to enjoy the freedom that working with artists provides. In fact, the name of his book, Make it Fabulous, is derived from that very freedom. Many of his clients give Georgis free rein on projects by simply saying, make it fabulous. And in the same vein that clients provide Georgis with creative autonomy, he provides his artists with much of that same independence.

From Georgis townhouse: View from entrance to kitchen, dining and living room featuring William Dobson Plexiglass table, Corian counter and island, Dorothy Schindele barstools, and Alex Katz painting (reflected in mirrored screen).

“I’m really blessed that many of my clients are risk takers,” he said. “If you’re handing over your environment to an artist and saying – Do Something – you don’t really know what you’re going to get. So the client has to be willing to take that risk and let it happen. We’ve given artist Virgil Marti entire rooms and he’s created sculptural installations that are a part of a sequence that people live in.”

With art as a central element of his collaborative process, Georgis is no stranger to the art fair circuit and equates coming to town for Art Basel to a homecoming, describing the experience as antic.

“It’s a chance to see people that you have not seen since the last art event, which might have been two weeks prior,” he said with a touch of irony.

The art fair circuit, he admits, can be repetitive. Yet Georgis notes that Miami Art Week stands out not only for the opportunity it provides to see blue chip art, but also for the opportunity it provides to see art by young artists from around the world, and specifically artists from Miami.

“It’s about looking, really looking, and finding people you don’t know about.”

Georgis will have plenty of opportunity to find new artists during Art Basel 2013 and Miami Art Week. With organizations like Cannonball, Locust Projects, the Bake House Arts Complex and Fountainhead Studios harvesting local artists, Georgis might very well discover some fresh talent – the next hot sculptor or painter – who will assist him in making it fabulous.

William T. Georgis with Joyce Varvatos and daughter Thea in front of W South Beach Photo by Manny Hernandez
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