Defining cool takes a unique mind. A mind with tremendous critical acumen, one capable of integrating a myriad of influences and synthesizing them into a single, discreet idea. Pharrell Williams has, for the better part of a decade, been that mind. More than any other American man, Williams celebrates a breadth of artistic enterprises and encapsulates our generations complete fascination with knowing everything.
Underneath the glitz and glamor, Williams' intellectual charm and unyielding curiosity emerge.
The new book Pharell: Places and Spaces I've Been, the multidimensional creatives prolific body of work and his contribution to contemporary culture. The pages move through design, fashion, and music. Contributors range from lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin to award-winning architect Zaha Hadid. In the introduction, Williams writes, "As a child I would see things on television and dream."
He was transported, he reveals, and muses "I wondered what it was like, being in that two-dimensional world behind the screen." Though these are just the first two sentences of a deep exploration of Williams' influences, the words reveal a man who continues to seek new ways of re-imagining what life can and should be.
Places and Spaces I've Been unfolds over a series of revealing conversations. Jay-Z and Pharrell discuss music, beginning with memories of grunge and extending to minutia related to some of the former's most memorable bars. Pharrell also chats with N.E.R.D band mates Chad Hugo and Shae Haley, BAPE founder Nigo, Kanye West, and the aforementioned Buzz Aldrin. Buzz opens dialogue with a simple, "How's it with you, bro?"
Pharrell, we quickly learn, is in a different stratosphere. Yes, the star studded group of contributors and the A-list collaborators—the bulk of the book details Pharrell projects with Louis Vuitton, Moncler, and other high profile product endeavors…even furniture—are impressive. However, underneath the glitz and glamor, Williams' intellectual charm and unyielding curiosity emerge. The moral: Never stop learning.
The is a book for those seeking inspiration. For those who want fresh perspective. And ultimately, for those with a desire to re-imagine the world in which they live. It is a celebration of design, pushing beyond simple product creation to a distinct rethinking of contemporary culture. Finally, it is a testament to one man's adventure, and his gradual shift from being influeced to influencing.
© PHARRELL: PLACES AND SPACES I’VE BEEN, Rizzoli New York, 2012.