Textile artist Rachel Hayes recently opened “Dreams of Being,” a site-specific installation at the New York Missoni boutique on Madison Avenue. Interior Design caught up with Hayes to learn more about the project and her collaboration with the fashion house, which began after creative director Angela Missoni saw her work on Instagram. Hayes and Missoni have previously worked together on the brand’s Spring-Summer 2018 runway show and ad campaign. “Dreams of Being” was curated in collaboration with A Palazzo Gallery.
Interior Design: How do you see this project in relationship to your earlier works?
Rachel Hayes: I worked with the same materials as in previous installations, but each project responds to the space differently, whether that is in a formal gallery, out in the landscape, or in this case, inside a retail store. All of the elements are the same, and my goals are the same. I am leading a viewer's eye around the environment, and both revealing and concealing light and shadow, while maintaining a rhythm through the use of color.
ID: What inspires your work and does your inspiration include fashion?
RH: Of course! I love to look at fashion and learn about the construction. I also love to be thrown off when I see odd color combinations or get to feel unusual textures paired together. Often, I am referencing what is historically women’s work, but I want my art to conjure not only quilts, but abstract painting, fashion, stained glass, land art, and a million other things. When art, design, fashion, craft, and architecture are blended together, and a piece is hard to categorize, is when things get very inspiring and liberating for me.
ID: How did you conceive of your piece in relationship to the existing space of the store?
RH: I decided it was important to use the space above the stairs to impact and enhance the connection of the two floors. The length of the space dictated the size of the panel (30+ feet), and structurally it would hang with a nicer swag if it was mostly stripes, which plays off the horizontal lines of the stairs as well. I brought extra patchwork panels to play around with in response to the panel over the stairs. There is a huge amount of volume overhead to work with at the store, and I wanted to have the panels overlap each other slightly, like we did in the runway installation. I worked with curator Chiara Rusconi to envision this.
ID: How do color, pattern, and scale factor into your pieces?
RH: When I start to work on a piece, I lay out the colors that I will work with, and start building with darks/lights, opaque/sheer, vibrant/dull, and finding a balance of it all. Bold color and scale are metaphors for power. These are delicate materials that I am creating structure with. I’ll never forget the slightly competitive feeling I had while walking within and around the beautifully gruesome steel walls of a Richard Serra sculpture, and realizing I needed to work that big...
ID: What has it been like to collaborate with Missoni?
RH: There is such a huge amount of trust that they have in this collaboration, and respect for me as an individual artist. Our work in the same space and environment is creating something entirely new together, and it is very inspiring. Often, when I am working on an installation, I imagine all the different viewpoints someone could have walking within or around. Now that I have experienced seeing Missoni clothing moving underneath my art, it is really emotional in a way. We have created something indescribable together, and the magic is palpable in the photographs Harley Weir took while we were all in New Mexico.
It is the biggest compliment in the world, to catch someone like Angela Missoni’s eye with my work. Angela contacted me out of the blue, and what started out as a conversation over Instagram has resulted in several amazing projects.
“Dream of Being” by Rachel Hayes is open to the public until June 30, 2018, at Missoni, 1009 Madison Avenue in New York.