My Inspiration: Architect Richard Found on his love of painter Barry Reigate

Steve Dinneen
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Award-winning architect Richard Found talks about his unlikely love affair with the chaos and colour in the paintings of Barry Reigate

This painting is by an artist called Barry Reigate, whose work could be described as a cross between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy. A lot of his material is black and white but this one is filled with colour; it’s so free and graphic. I especially like that amid the playfulness, there’s a clown whose face is forlorn, giving it a melancholy element, too – I like those two emotions running in parallel. I’ve followed Reigate for a while – he’s collaborated with a lot of fashion houses, people like Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton and Lulu Guinness, so there’s an overlap with my professional life, which involves a lot of retail design.

I met Barry through my wife, who’s in the art world. I went to his studio and instantly enjoyed his work, and last year I finally bought one of my own. This fairly large piece lives in my open-plan kitchen, which is completely black apart from two white walls, and there’s a really nice contrast between the dark environment and the colour and freeness of the painting. We haven’t had a dinner party yet where somebody hasn’t asked about it.

I’m currently working on a new 100,000sqft department store for Saks Fifth Avenue, right next to the Freedom Tower, and I had them commission Reigate to produce a mural on a 100 metre wall. It’s exciting to see my passion for art and my professional life overlap, because they are often quite separate. With retail design there’s a very definite remit – we need to sell as many items as possible, what’s the best way of doing that? We’re slightly obsessed with sales – if we were to turn a mid-floor unit to one side, would that help? A pared-back environment makes the product stand out, so the design becomes a backdrop or a canvas. Saks, for instance, has a restricted palette of materials; white walls, copper and bronze units.

With this in mind, you might expect to find an Agnes Martin or a Bridget Riley hanging in my kitchen – something geometric and ordered. You wouldn’t expect a Barry Reigate. But a lot of the art I collect appears to go against the grain of my professional work – I also own pieces by Glenn Ligon, Dexter Dalwood, Jeremy Deller, Raqib Shaw and Jordan Wolfson. I guess I like having a reminder that life can be chaotic and unpredictable.

RIBA award-winning architect Richard Found established Found Associates. Find out more at foundassociates.com

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