Interview: Richard Knight of GK Designs for Supplementaire #12

In Interviews

 “Eroticism, for Godfrey Knight Designs is about mood, imagination and circumstance.  creating clothing, furniture and accessories that trigger the mood, feed the imagination and enhance the setting. For them eroticism plays with the mind to raise sex from being a biological instinct to an art form.


How did you get into design?
I am an Architect by training and have loved design since childhood, but designing for erotica came as a result of attending a self development course that got me to review all of my inhibitions and indoctrinations. I returned from a particularly intense course and found that I  was overflowing with ideas about the challenging of social customs, taboos and the very idea of permission. The designs I came up with, only a few of which have been created so far, play on the tension created when sex is desired, where self exposure is dared and where relinquishing control to another is the aim.

What was your inspiration for your new collection?
I have always loved metal, wood and leather and the traditional craftsmanship that goes with these. The idea that hands have worked on the pieces, have fashioned them to fit, made them personal to the wearer gives me a sensual thrill. I wanted the designs to be made to measure so that the experience of buying the item was an integral part of the owning of the item and the later use of it. When a client buys one of our designs they are daring to show up and express their needs and desires, they are giving us permission to serve them and then later when they own the item they can enjoy the pleasure of possessing an item that is designed specifically for their erotic fantasies. This uniqueness adds a whole new level to the feel of the item. You have to be bold to commission a GKD item.

Why leather? Why gold?
Man made materials have pleasure in them and many new rubbers and silicones have interesting properties which I am sure we will explore in due course, but the history that goes with leather, gold, even bronze and silver, the associations that travel with them, the richness of their colour and texture make them sensual even before they have been worked on. Using machines to make erotic items can never come close to the qualities embedded in the item when the craftsperson, bent over the materials they are working on, uses all of their skill and imagination. The workshops that the designs emerge from, cluttered with their strange tools,  give the item a smell and character that cannot be matched by a factory made item. When I visit the workshops that we use to make our designs I get excited by the possibility of variation. Each item will have been affected by the mood the craftsperson was in,  the temperature of the room, the emotions in the building and the legacy of previously made items. The passion that the craftspeople display and the excitement they have when they have a new piece to work on feeds through to the finished item. Each one is an improvement on the last. Each carries a new lesson learnt and a part of each person involved in the making of the item – not least the client.

How do you work?
Creating the collection is all about mood and story. As I design I am thinking about how the item might be used, who that person might be, where they might be and who else is with them or about to join them. I would love to hear the stories of my clients and what actually happens when they do get their hands on one of the designs, someday one will be bold enough to tell me, if the experience is not too intimate to reveal. As a design comes together the object may well ignite another associated idea or one that is in direct opposition to the item I am working on. When the sketches are complete the next part is discussing how the item will be made.

Part of the creative process is extracted from the GKD books I am working on with a very talented artist, Mara Mihalache. As the story is written down and the illustrations appear, ideas for new objects and clothing emerge. Sometimes it is the other way round. I recently visited a very tame museum that displayed a tabacco cutting knife from the Victorian era that had a naked woman as the handle. I love the idea of being reminded about sex by the objects we handle everyday. There is so much more to come from this rich vein.

What is your favourite piece from the collection?
My personal favourite from the collection would have to be The Suit. Zahira, who made the suit, worked on it with such dedication and such pleasure as it came together, she spent hours making it then many more polishing it and finishing it until she was almost reluctant to let the first one leave her hands. There are details on the suit that are only noticed as it is put on. I have had people stare at it in wonder, then as they try one on they sigh and gasp as the various straps and lacings get fastened and tightened. When they are finally encased within it each person has had a slightly different reaction. One felt powerful, another so vulnerable that you could feel her heart open with a certain degree of trepidation. All have been reluctant to have it removed.

Who would you most like to see in your suit?  Touch on  April Lea Hutchison…
The suit works for certain bodies and not for others, although each one is hand made to fit the client and the cut of the suit changes to compliment their curves and bone structure, there are some clients that I would rather design a completely different garment for. All bodies are erotic, without exception, but how the eroticism of the body is brought out depends on their freed mind and body, and mine. The suit was designed with three women in mind, Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightly and the woman who agreed to marry me. Only one of the three has worn a suit. I would love to see one or both of the others in it. My mind races at the thought of it, the adaptations needed, the features I might add or remove.

Reviewing some of the images that April-Lea Hutchison displays on her website I am thrilled to see the hint of exhibitionism, provocation and display. The scenes seem to be begging for a story to go with them as to how they came about, why was the girl/girls there, wearing that, what mood was she/they in? I am intrigued by the use of simple props, a light, a cigarette, a blindfold and a location. Including GKD designs adds a deliberateness to images. There is no chance encounter if one of the subjects is wearing a GKD design. They have intention, they want something more and the GKD design hints at the direction in which the wearer seeks pleasure from their partner.

I am constantly on the lookout for creative people who are ready to share their erotic thoughts in their work. It would be wonderful to see my work within April-Lea’s, I wonder what she will make of it? In writing this, ideas have been triggered. I am reaching for my sketch book.

Interview by Zoe Hutchinson at Platform Creative for Supplementaire

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