beastly design

Inside the Absurd, Icelandic-Sheepskin-Covered World of the Haas Brothers

We got into ceramics without learning how to throw anything,” Simon Haas explains. “We didn’t really read about it either.” Simon and his fraternal twin, Nikolai, approach everything they do with this childlike willful ignorance, and the results are both wondrous and strange. The 30-year-old L.A.-based designers are in the basement of Zesty Meyers and Evan Snyderman’s R & Company gallery, where they made their debut in 2012 with a collection of bronze vases and where they’ll be showing a retrospective of their work on November 4. (All pieces are for sale and range from $6,500 to $85,000.) “They came in with two little samples that weren’t even finished,” Meyers recalls, “and that was it.” A year later, the Haas brothers — who up until then were most well known for being actor Lukas Haas’s younger brothers and in a band with Vincent Gallo — created the career-solidifying Hex series. Donatella Versace and Lady Gaga snatched up their work, Peter Marino had them create a ceiling for the Guerlain store in Paris, and Damiani gave them a book deal (The Haas Brothers is out now). At the root of their design partnership is a shared appreciation of the absurd. Their new Accretions — sea-anemone-like ceramic vases — were apparently inspired by “Ursula’s grotto in The Little Mermaid.” They also feel strongly about advocating for the “sexual outsider” and often add explicit touches to their pieces: One of their Beasts (Jabberwockian fur-covered stools, settees, and daybeds with copper feet) features “two little hidden boobs in the front that you have to discover with your hands,” says Simon. The Beasts have punny names like Hairy J. Blige and Edward Furlong. Says Nikolai, “It’s our way of being like, ‘We care a lot about these pieces. But if you don’t, no big deal.’”

*This article appears in the November 3, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.

Photo: Joe Kramm/Daniel Trese

Hose B Hex side table (2013)

“This was basically our big break: We cut long hexagonal rods into tiles. There are thousands of tiles floating around our studio.”

Photo: Joe Kramm

Mini Beasts (2013)

“This is part of a set of 15 Mini Beasts that all have matching names—Roughy, Stuffy, Puffy, Muffy. This is Stuffy. Our dad carves each horn out of ebony, based on Niki’s freehand sketches.”

Photo: Joe Kramm

Hairy J. Blige (2013)

“We call her Hairy J. Blige because we wanted a really badass chick to lead the way. When you get between the humps, hammock style, it feels like she’s hugging you.”

Photo: Sherry Griffin

Hematite Vase (2012)

“Our first piece as a design team. We like to joke that this is our ‘gold poop’ collection. Niki filled panty hose with plaster and tied them off into blobs, then cast the blobs in bronze.”

Photo: Joe Kramm

Accretion Vase (2014)

“Simon created the glaze with a crystalline structure that, to the human eye, appears sea-foam green under incandescent light, and pinky purple under fluorescent light.”

Photo: Joe Kramm

Dolph Tall stool (2013)

“The hide is Icelandic sheepskin. All of our fur is food waste and mostly from a warehouse in Iceland that’s attached to a gas station. Niki discovered it on vacation.”

Inside the Absurd World of the Haas Brothers