As a strong proponent of the principle that “art is not a luxury, but a necessity” accessible to all, Richard Orlinski has made an impact across the world with monumental exhibits of his signature multifaceted animal sculptures, all designed around the theme “Born Wild” to symbolise fearlessness, freedom and power. They range from his Wild Kong gorilla sculpture on the Croisette in Cannes and his triumvirate of Wild Kong, Prancing Horse and Standing Wild Bear at the French Grand Prix, to his Crocodiles in the sunshine of the Miami Design District, and five-metre-tall bear on the pistes of Courchevel.
Since 2017, Orlinski has found a perfect collaborator who shares the same modern outlook and innovative spirit in Swiss watchmaker and champion of “The Art of Fusion”, Hublot, resulting in a growing collection of Classic Fusion special editions bearing Orlinski’s distinctive hallmark. At first glance, some will be drawn to the facets created by the signature folds and the iconic angular architecture of the internationally renowned visual artist. Others will be drawn by the mechanics of the Hublot chronograph dial.
The Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski through His Eyes
Lovers of both art and extreme precision are united in the latest chapter of the collaboration, devoted to the Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski. With this unique watch comes a 41 mm case that sits perfectly on any wrist. Both utterly unique, one is worn with the iconic black rubber strap while the other extends its three-dimensional silhouette along the entire watch, a huge technical feat that combines comfort with aesthetics. In this new collection, the microblasted titanium gives the facets a matte finish for an added touch of elegance.
Over the years, you have gone from pop artist to pop icon. What do you do to engage your followers?
One of the interesting things I noticed during the pandemic was many of my celebrity friends taking to livestreaming together – celebrities talking to celebrities. I don’t like that. Instead, I talked to my community, to regular people. I wanted to give a moment to the policemen, firemen and nurses on the frontline. We shared a bit about art and even more about what happened in their lives, the problems they faced. I also helped other street artists during this difficult time by making a documentary series (Sur Les Mur on TV5Monde) and online galleries to help promote their art. We even met up with hospitals and sold art to help them buy masks and other medical supplies. It was a very special period that has taught us to look at the world differently.
How big a part does this sense of community play in your career as an artist?
I’ve always tried to stay close to the community. For example, when we went to a place in France where the people are very poor, we created a big event with a big sculpture like the one I made for Champs-Élysées. They were so happy that someone well-known had come to them. I was only supposed to stay for a few hours, but we ended up staying for a few days, sharing moments in football and getting involved in their everyday lives. It was a simple thing to do that felt very genuine. We gave a lot, but also received a lot. It has become a way of life for me.
We read that you’ve signed a partnership with an Egyptian real estate developer. Please tell us more about this new venture.
Yes, we are designing the interiors of what will be one of the biggest towers in the world. We started Orlinski Design three years ago and now we are working on building hotels and towers. It will be different for two reasons. Firstly, the people who come will get to have a more immersive experience of the Orlinski world than just a decoration. We want to create dedicated Orlinski menus and merchandise, or complimentary souvenirs like room keys that guests can take home and collect. Secondly, with Orlinski Design, you can put a face to the name, for which I’m very grateful as a living artist, whereas most major hospitality groups like Fairmont, Sofitel and Marriott are operated anonymously.
What do you gain most from collaborating with individuals/organisations outside your industry?
A chance to learn something new. Learning is a part of my everyday life now. We share things with the people around us every day. With Hublot, I’m more involved in the design than the technical. Our latest collaboration with Hublot is very simple, very easy to wear; everyone can wear this watch and it’s communicating both the past and the future.
You’re known for your use of striking pop colours. Why have you decided on a black-and-grey theme for the new Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski?
No doubt colour is very important for me, but I also love monochrome and simple yet elegant designs. What I love most about the Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski is the matte finishing of the titanium. For watches, I’ve always preferred a monochrome palette composed of one colour, or shades of the same colour, whether it’s greyscale or a flashy tone in ceramic. I don’t like to mix too many different colours in a single design.
Introducing: Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu
A cult tattoo artist behind Kanye West and FKA Twigs’ tattoos, Maxime Plescia-Buchi perfectly incarnates Hublot’s willingness to merge the arts and bring together fundamentally contrasting worlds. Sketches drawn, stencils printed, waivers signed, his desk very much a stereotypical artist’s desk. To call the proprietor of Sang Bleu “multidisciplinary” would be an understatement. Just as his tattoos create new identity, revealing new shapes and new perspectives, the celebrated typographer, tattooist, artist and founder of Sang Bleu injects a new spirit into the Spirit of Big Bang collection, incorporating his iconic complex geometry and watch design language equivalent of the intricate line work that is core to the timepiece’s namesake.
For the seventh year and third collaboration with Hublot, Plescia-Buchi is channelling the Spirit of Big Bang through the Sang Bleu prism, staying true to the series’ characteristics while remaining highly distinctive. Reimagining the strokes of the Spirit of Big Bang with stretched, elongated bevelled features and measured, his talent for the sculptural and multi-dimensional has envisioned perfectly proportioned angles that fit together to create a faceted, structured 42 mm diameter timepiece with an enhanced three-dimensional and ergonomically enhanced design – like the Orlinski, the Sang Bleu signature is instantly recognisable.
The case is composed of a perceptibly vast number of geometric parts – hexagons, diamonds and triangles – all artfully dovetailing into a unified rhomboid structure. Like each of his tattoos, the line adapts to the case, to its distinctive characteristics, reliefs, curves and texture while retaining what is essential: its spirit.
Adding to the three-dimensional effect, the faceted components embossed and debossed, are further augmented and enhanced with vertical brushed finishings and polished surfaces for contrast and tonality. True to the Spirit of Big Bang, the case still features the sandwich construction, the six H-shaped titanium screws on the bezel, and the rubber bumpers on the pushers and crown.
The sapphire crystal covering the dial is sculptural as well, providing a slightly magnified view of the skeletonised chronograph movement underneath it courtesy of four separate “panes”, each arched and showcasing bevels that dip to meet the 10-sided bezel. Taking centre-stage of the dial is a signature Plescia-Buchi skeletonised rhomboid structure composed of mobile rhomboids to indicate the time driven by the HUB4700 automatic calibre based on the vaunted Zenith El Primero chronograph. The largest arrow-tipped hand with Super-LumiNova revolves around the dial to indicate the hours, which are placed
on a black 10-sided track.
Whether rendered in All Black ceramic, the brand’s proprietary King Gold alloy, or diamond pavé-encrusted titanium or King Gold, this new case radically reshapes the base Spirit of Big Bang into something more intricate: three- dimensional geometry in perfect symmetry with a mysteriously magnetic architecture, playing with relief and depth through polished, satin finished, engraved, chiselled, bevelled and faceted materials. Hexagons, diamonds and triangles appear and overlap, redefining shapes and volumes line by line.
Transposing his line onto a different volume, the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu, even with its ultra-generous proportions and prominent shape, offers a perfect ergonomic fit across all wrist sizes. The geometry of the Big Bang Sang Bleu II has been retained while also optimising the dynamic nature of the barrel shape, ensuring that the watch perfectly fits the curves of the wrist.