On Hating Repetition And Trying New Things / by Anne Kreamer

On the eve of his first one-man show in New York, Jim Sutherland's Wall Street Journal profile of a man who refuses to be pigeon-holed captured my imagination. "IN THE CENTER of the Venn diagram that overlaps "artist," "philosopher," "designer" and "architect" sits Gaetano Pesce.

The 73-year-old Italian has spent more than a half century designing objects that defy description, furniture fraught with deeper meaning and buildings so visionary that most have never been built. He has crafted ashtrays in the shape of bleeding hands, doorways overhung by buttocks and sofas that pay homage to the Manhattan skyline. No color has been neglected, and no material has been safe: Rags and extruded polyurethane have been formed into armchairs; vinyl disks have been turned into shoes. Resin? It's to Mr. Pesce as teak was to the Danes.

Every Pesce project is a brave experiment, and he values humanity and expression over perfection. But amid the curiosities and eyebrow-raisers, there have been iconic achievements. His 1993 Organic Building in Osaka, Japan—its facade sprouting with a grid of planters—predated today's hanging gardens and living walls, and his 1969 Up5 chair is among the 20th century's most instantly recognizable pieces. A Manhattanite since 1980, Mr. Pesce is enjoying his first one-man New York show at Fred Torres Collaborations (through May 25). We recently talked with Mr. Pesce about Raphael as a pioneering multitasker, Darwin as exemplar and his love of unconventionally pretty feet. I am always evolving. I get tired of the way I think and so (to read more)

  The architect and artist, Gaetano Pesce photographed by Adam Golfer for the Wall Street Journal

The architect and artist, Gaetano Pesce photographed by Adam Golfer for the Wall Street Journal