2019 marks the 30th anniversary of Lenny Kravitz’s first album Let Love Rule. Discontent with being only an excellent musician, this multi-talented artist has a true passion for design and architecture, which led him to create Kravitz Design in 2003.
By Stéphane Le Duc
Photographer Mathieu Bitton
A true living legend, Kravitz has won four consecutive Grammy Awards and holds the record for most trophies won in the “Best Male Rock Performance” category. He released a powerful 11th album last fall called Raise Vibration. More recently, Kravitz has started putting his photography talents forward with an innovative project realized in collaboration with the legendary champagne house Dom Perignon, for whom he is currently the creative director and photographer.
How did you develop this interest in photography? Through my father. My father was a journalist – he worked at NBC News, and he covered the Vietnam War and came back with a Leica camera, and I used to play with it when I was a kid. I had no idea how to use it, but I was drawn to the camera itself. I thought it was very interesting, the design of it, the buttons… what does it do? Then later on in life, my father gave me the camera when I was 21, and, at 24, I got a record deal, and I began to be in front of the camera. I thought it was far more interesting what was going on behind the camera. So, I started to talk to those photographers, and they would invite me into their dark rooms to see the process. People like Mark Seliger, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and different people would show me how the camera works and the techniques. I did not really understand at first, and one day I just got the bug, and I went out and bought my own Leica. I said, “I am gonna figure this out.”
“I WAS VERY MUCH INSPIRED BY THIS BOOK ABOUT Studio 54 by Ron Galella WHO SHOT ALL THOSE GREAT PICTURES OF THE NEW YORK NIGHTLIFE.”
You do many different things in terms of music, photography, design – do you feel that they are all share the same spirit? Absolutely! I have learned that I am as passionate for music as I am for design or photography and even acting, but the beauty of it is that I like to be creative all the time. I just wake up and I want to do something. I am always doing design, whether I am on tour or making a film because the business does not stop, so my team will fly out to where I am or we will do things via computer. I’ll make decisions over the phone; I will draw and send it in wherever I may be. So, I am always weaving all the different mediums.
In your latest exhibition ‘Assemblage’ with Dom Perignon, you have a great cast of creative people: Susan Sarandon, Alexander Wang, Abbey Lee, Harvey Keitel, and you daughter, Chloé Kravitz. What was the inspiration for this project? I was very much inspired by this book about Studio 54 by Ron Galella who shot all those great pictures of the New York nightlife. I wanted it to be natural lighting inside, also in the dark with the flash. We had a dinner party and a dance party. If you look at some pictures, you can tell that, by the end, everybody really knows each other, and everybody is having a good time, and it’s not fake. My daughter, Chloé, was the catalyst – she got everybody relaxed and talking. It was just a real evening of that eclectic group of artists just hanging out.
You have always been recognized for your amazing sense of style. How come you never had your own clothing line? I have been asked and offered so much. At the time when that was happening, I could have made a lot of money, and I could have had a big business. It was like everyone was doing it. All the musicians had a clothing line, and I tend to run the other way when everybody is doing something because I like to be myself, so I started Kravitz Design. I went down the design/architecture lane because it was something I was so interested in, but I had no idea how I could make that happen, and how I would get into it. I just took my own money to start the company and lost a lot just to figure it out. It’s been wonderful, and I have paid my dues. I got accepted into that world by spending time and going to Milan and being with all these people, and then Philippe Stark discovering me… One day I would like to do it, but I have to think how, what, and where I would manufacture it – how I would do it in a sustainable way and how it would be perfectly green and right because the world does not need another clothing line.