After years of top-secret meetings and high-clearance code-names, Artspace is unbelievably excited to announce Phaidon’s latest collaboration: Rihanna, a stunning visual autobiography inviting you into the world of the nine-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist, songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Rihanna is legendary—she has sold 60 million albums worldwide, holds the distinction of being the top-selling digital artist of all time, and has established herself as an unparalleled retail doyenne with concurrent cosmetics, lingerie, and luxury fashion lines.
Today, Rihanna announced on her Instagram the launch of this lush, large-format book, boasting 1,050 color images, many of which have never been published before. It's available on Artspace in two limited-edition formats held by bespoke mounts created in close collaboration with renowned Los Angeles-based artists chosen by Rihanna, The Haas Brothers. (Read our recent interview with the twins about their current exhibition at Marianne Boesky gallery in New York.). The Fenty x Phaidon edition, featuring a fabulous black-and-white photo of the icon on the cover, is accompanied by “This Sh*t is Heavy,” a custom tabletop bookstand in the style of Rihanna’s signature hand tattoos ($175). And the Luxury Supreme edition, an oversized book (numbered and signed by both Rihanna and The Haas Brothers) rests on "Drippy + The Brain," a custom cast-resin tabletop bookstand ($5,500). As if the book wasn't rich enough on its own, these limited editions created in collaboration with The Haas Brothers add yet another layer of opulence that isn't easy to resist.
Here, Artspace's editor-in-chief Loney Abrams sits down to talk with The Haas Brothers about their collaboration with Rihanna, and their innovative approach to this exciting project.
Simon: One of them is a bookstand for the Fenty x Phaidon edition that is based on Rihanna’s hands and her tattoos. The hands are open and the book rests on them, so it’s like she’s handing the book to you. I'm a huge fan of hers, and I’ve always thought her hands were very important. She’s got iconic hands.
So you were a big fan of Rihanna’s before you started this collaboration?
Simon: I've been listening to her for many, many years. One time I was getting an MRI, and they asked me if I wanted to listen to music. Immediately I was like, I want Rihanna. I think she’s so fucking cool. Anyways, the second stand, for the Rihanna: Luxury Supreme edition, is gold-toned, and it’s got little flanges that Niki sculpted. We based it on Doctor Zoidberg from [the animated television series] Futurama. It’s one of the shapes that we return to a lot. It looks a little bit like a splash, and it has a pillow on it that is covered with a vermiculated material.
Niki: “Vermiculated” isn’t a term that normal people use.
Simon: Oh yeah, sorry. Vermiculation is something that we do that is basically two layers of fabric that are sewn together in a very specific pattern, and one of the layers is shrunk. Vermiculation is typically a term used to describe a technique that stone carvers use in Paris on the corners of buildings. The Brooklyn Museum has it too.
Niki: It’s called vermiculation because it looks like when vermin or worms eat through wood. Vermiculation is typically a 3D relief, and Simon took it and made it a 3D fabric texture in a sculptural sense, rather than a relief sense.
Simon: We also worked on a book cover also using that same vermiculation process. One of my favorite parts is the endpapers in the book, which have a print of the vermiculation pattern in clear gloss over black paper. It shimmers almost like a spider web. And it has her name hidden in it. It's really beautiful.