Award-winning architect Richard Found talks about his unlikely love affair with the chaos and colour in the paintings of Barry Reigate

Written by Steve Dinneen
Tuesday 6 September 2016

This painting is by an artist called Barry Reigate, whose work could be described as a cross between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy. A lot of his material is black and white but this one is filled with colour; it's so free and graphic. I especially like that amid the playfulness, there's a clown whose face is forlorn, giving it a melancholy element, too ? I like those two emotions running in parallel. I?ve followed Reigate for a while ? he's collaborated with a lot of fashion houses, people like Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton and Lulu Guinness, so there's an overlap with my professional life, which involves a lot of retail design.

I met Barry through my wife, who's in the art world. I went to his studio and instantly enjoyed his work, and last year I finally bought one of my own. This fairly large piece lives in my open-plan kitchen, which is completely black apart from two white walls, and there's a really nice contrast between the dark environment and the colour and freeness of the painting. We haven?t had a dinner party yet where somebody hasn?t asked about it.

I?m currently working on a new 100,000sqft department store for Saks Fifth Avenue, right nextto the Freedom Tower, and I had them commission Reigate to produce a mural on a 100 metre wall. It's exciting to see my passion for art and my professional life overlap, because they are often quite separate. With retail design there's a very definite remit ? we need to sell as many items as possible, what's the best way of doing that? We?re slightly obsessed with sales ? if we were to turn a mid-floor unit to one side, would that help? A pared-back environment makes the product stand out, so the design becomes a backdrop or a canvas. Saks, for instance, has a restricted palette of materials; white walls, copper and bronze units.

With this in mind, you might expect to find an Agnes Martin or a Bridget Riley hanging in my kitchen ? something geometric and ordered. You wouldn?t expect a Barry Reigate. But a lot of the art I collect appears to go against the grain of my professional work ? I also own pieces by Glenn Ligon, Dexter Dalwood, Jeremy Deller, Raqib Shaw and Jordan Wolfson. I guess I like having a reminder that life can be chaotic and unpredictable.