As a leading artist, designer, restaurant owner and entrepreneur, André Saraiva is adding to his already full roster of commitments with a new collaboration with Uniqlo on a range of limited-edition graphic T-shirts.
2016 proved to be a banner year for Saraiva. In addition to opening Hôtel Grand Amour in Paris to much acclaim, he also christened The Friend in LA – a bar in Silver Lake – featuring drinks by William Cutting, food by Eric Greenspan and interior charm courtesy of Kenny Sharf, Aaron Rose and Tofer Chin.
We recently caught up with Saraiva to talk not only about his Uniqlo experience, but his musings on business, food culture, millennial entitlement and more.
What drew you to working with Uniqlo?
I loved the idea that Uniqlo is a brand that is accessible to everyone. Graffiti, as an art, has that quality as well, so they seemed like an ideal partner to make T-shirts with.
Was it freeing to work outside of the confines of menswear by exploring themes relating to womenswear and clothes for children?
Yes, but my work has always been very feminine, so it’s a domain where I feel very comfortable and happy.
What are the biggest challenges of delving into the hospitality sector with Hotel Grand Amour?
It came pretty naturally because I’ve always made my hotels and places like they were my own houses. Hotel Amour was basically born because I didn’t have a place to stay, and still today when I’m in Paris I live in my own hotels. I always see these places I create as an extension of my intimate life. So the biggest challenge is to have enough room for everyone.
What lessons would you give to a budding entrepreneur?
I consider myself a budding entrepreneur, so I would be very happy to take some advice.
As a successful restauranteur, what are your thoughts on the idea that chefs are the new rockstars?
I think there may be too many “supposedly good” chefs. Good chefs and amazing artists are rare finds, and we shouldn’t overuse the word chef. It should be given to the really talented ones.
What’s the newest thing in your office and what drew you to purchasing it?
I bought three colored industrial factory shelving units so I could organize all my archives.
As a jack-of-many-trades, what do you view as a key to maintaining a balance not only with various projects – at various stages of completion – but also a healthy personal life?
Always having many different projects and starting new adventures is part of what keeps me going and keeps me alive. Creating and discovering new things is my life motive. It comes naturally.
You’ve gone on record as stating “everything I do comes from that attitude I learned from graffiti” meaning the freedom graffiti provided you allows you to take risks that “normal” people might not. When’s the last time you felt real trepidation in your work life and fear crept in?
I’m never scared; I’m just excited. I like to take risks in domains I’m not expected and domains I don’t know, and then it’s not fear that I feel, it’s the excitement of the surprise.
What’s your take on the whole “trophy kid” attitude of millennials who believe that participation inevitably warrants recognition? Would young people be wiser learning from their mistakes rather than seeking out validation that may not be warranted?
I don’t feel that I should be the one giving lessons, but of course you learn from experience, mistakes, and from making things with your own hands and brain. We live in a society where people care more about their likes than about bringing something into their own intimate world.
That being said, I’m no one to give judgement and we should let that generation be and see where they go. And I do feel it’s changing a bit. Every young generation has been confronted with a bit of vanity and superficiality, but I always feel like something deeper will come out of it.
You close your eyes and picture the perfect day in the perfect city. Where are you and what are you doing?
It was yesterday, driving around in the green hills of Hollywood with my daughter.