Although first and foremost considered an interior decorating company, SAFE HOUSE USA founder Keehnan Konyha prefers to think of his brand as a bridge between two worlds. Functional housewares engage with fashion and design; streetwear is adapted and brought indoors. “SAFE HOUSE exists so you can bring someone home without them clocking your bedding as part of Target’s Nate Berkus collection,” Konyha tells us.
Last season the brand’s collection was entirely gray scale. One duvet looked like a slab of black marble, while others were varying forms of geometric black and white prints. This season, however, Konyha took an opposite approach. His duvets embrace lively personalities through vibrant colors, abstract shapes, layered prints and digitally rendered graphics.
The specific design Faces is a reproduction of Richard Giglio’s work in the early ’80s. Remember those intricate, yet somewhat scribble-like designs? “It’s coy and active and could easily be the only object in your bedroom without seeming lonely,” Konyha says of this design. In addition to artistic or historical inspiration, quotes and short pieces of literature—like songs by Madonna and poetry by Mary Oliver—also accompany each design.
This season, SAFE HOUSE branched out from duvets and introduced curtains panels, shower curtains and unisex apparel. We’re eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of boxers and silk pajamas. In the meantime, you can check out the brand’s campaign video featuring Konyha and director Christelle de Castro’s friends.
How did you start Safe House?
SAFE HOUSE USA was born out of the notion that housewares are duty-bound to fulfill a higher purpose, and that they are failing; the short, and simple version being SAFE HOUSE exists so you can bring someone home without them clocking your bedding as part of Target’s Nate Berkus collection.
How did you choose the actors in the video? Tell us who some of them are?
Christelle had been one of those people you have something like a hundred friends in common with on Facebook (one hundred and forty-six, actually, I just checked) but have somehow never actually met or been introduced to. I knew I wanted to do a video for this collection, and her name came up repeatedly as I asked around.
We met up over lunch and I fell in love immediately. “Incredible” doesn’t begin to describe her. Beforehand I had emailed her the limited visuals I was keeping on hand as guides, really just a handful of Nan Goldin and Felix Gonzalez-Torres photos, but she understood immediately what I meant, where to take it, and how to get there. We also both immediately agreed the music had to be Mariah; from there everything fell into place.
Everyone in the video is either a friend of mine, a friend of Christelle’s, or both. None are actors, just gorgeous people we’re blessed enough to know, all who happened to be kind and patient enough to let us take over their bedrooms for a few hours at a stretch. Juliana Huxtable and Chris Udemezue are both multidisciplinary artists; both are also members of the House of Ladosha. Karley Sciortino is a writer for Vogue and a semi-regular in films for Purple Magazine and SHOWstudio. Tim DeWit and Rodan Tekle are a couple; Tim is a musician (ex-, and possibly future-Gang Gang Dance), and Rodan is the baby wizard genius behind the animation and editing of the video.
Tell us about the new collection?
SS14 is a reaction to our inaugural collection. I wanted to see where and how far we could go with its opposite: full color, abstract shapes, layered prints, digital, rendered graphics. I also wanted more artists involved. I’d been after reissuing Richard’s print for something like two years. If I can pull from the press release again,
“Contemporary artist Alex da Corte’s BLOODLUST print is an unaltered photograph of a paint and rubber pour with a sexualized, ruby-red-rubber-in-Tekken look. FACES is a reproduction of a Richard Giglio work from the late ‘70s; it’s coy and active and could easily be the only object in your bedroom without seeming lonely. Something of an analog for the mentality and ethos that governs the whole collection, FUNCTION is an aptly – and snidely – named rendering of nightclub, prom and banquet hall photo backdrops meant to play on the esteem of the incidentally-designed treasures of the world. BEVERLY, potentially the collection’s signature print, sets loose Don Loper’s famous “Martinique” wallpaper from the staid and dusty luxury of its history and releases it into a Google Glass-ready otherworld of texture mapped projections and shifting interiors.”
We’re also introducing multiple new pieces: curtain panels, shower curtains, and in collaboration with PRINT ALL OVER ME, apparel, with boxers and silk pajama sets forthcoming.
How is SAFE HOUSE different from other brands of its kind?
Without, I hope, sounding overly confident or pompous, I don’t know that there are other brands like SAFE HOUSE. We have a specific goal and a narrow focus, and I think, at least at six months old, we’re doing a great job of doing what we set out to do, which is to bridge the worlds of streetwear and interior design as accessibly as possible.
What is your professional/artistic background?
My background, and occasional foreground, is in interior design. Most recently, the VFILES retail store on Mercer, Akeem Smith’s studio, and assisting Jarrod Glaze with his last menswear presentation.
How has the internet informed the Safe House aesthetic?
Unavoidably, but purposefully. I’ve kept a Tumblr in some form since around 2008; originally I ran an interiors blog called 2THEWALLS, which has since become the woefully neglected journal on my own site. The internet, specifically Tumblr, and alongside it Flickr and DIS, help me organize and arrange my thoughts visually, and allow me to let in, to a degree at least, what I’m looking for, and keep out what I’m not.
What community do you most associate with?
Outside of the internet, the nightlife community, though I’ve for sure become more of a “can we actually meet over coffee/lunch?” man in recent years. Nightlife here is the sun to our corona, a celebratory nexus where everything SAFE HOUSE is about orbits, expands, collapses, explodes. It’s where the clothes are worn and seen, where the music is heard in context, where personas created with intention are embodied and experienced. Is that overly florid?
I think Kevin McGarry’s recent piece for W on the new Telfar and Eckhaus Latta collections does a fantastic job at sketching out just how interconnected and networked nightlife, the internet and the city are regarding creative output.