1 posts tagged "Jim Walrod"
Jim Walrod is a design guru, a self-taught expert on furniture, interior design, and architecture. He has worked with everyone from Mike D of the Beastie Boys to the award-winning hotelier André Balazs to artist Tom Sachs. Conceptualizing beautiful homes, high-end restaurants, hotels, and even gyms. Walrod is also known as the “walking encyclopedia.” He is a wealth of fascinating and unusual knowledge. In his new book, I Knew Jim Knew, he shares a ton of great “useless” information: forgotten facts about New York City buildings, Charles Mingus, Stephen Sprouse, and David Bowie’s interest in black magic. On the occasion of the book’s release day, here’s a brief conversation with Walrod about his life, work, and the facts he hoards.
Tell me about your New York in the 1980s. How did that environment inform your work as a designer?
In the eighties, when I was 16 or 17, I walked into Fiorucci and wound up getting a job. It’s kind of amazing to think now, but at that age I was exposed to the most radical Italian design of the time. In New York at that time you were never carded, nobody ever checked your age. I was exposed to clubs like Area and the whole gay scene, which was just exploding with energy and creativity. What an amazing place to be as a kid. It still informs almost everything that I do in design today.
You co-owned the store Form and Function in Tribeca with Fred Schneider of The B-52s and Jack Feldman for four years. I imagine that was a much different experience than the client work that you do. What was your goal with the store?
The goal with the store was to educate and expose people to a different type of design than what was being traded on the market at the time. We were the first people in New York City to explore California design of the fifties, people like Greta Grossman and Luther Conover, who had never really been brought to any importance before that store, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I was also in my mid-20s and none of my friends could afford design, so I tried to make things as affordable as possible for them. If they were too poor to buy, at least I could see them—ha!
I Knew Jim Knew covers so many different topics, it’s a really fun read. Have you always been a fact hoarder? What made you decide to turn all these fun nuggets into a proper book?
Thanks. Yeah, it’s funny, as you get older you just accumulate stories—if you stay in one place or one city for a long time, every place you walk past seems to have some kind of importance to it. When I was approached about writing a book, it was about doing a design book or something about my work, I just kept thinking, Who the hell wants to see another book about some guy’s interior work? So I just wanted to do a book that anybody could do with about eighty simple facts. Everybody’s got facts in them that nobody else knows. These are mine.
I have to ask, is it really Glenn O’Brien on the inside cover of The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album cover?
I hope so for Glenn, God! The inside of that album cover has been the introduction to sexuality for four generations now, ha! God, did you see the size of that thing!