Multidisciplinary designer Camille Walala on her most cherished possession

Kate Worthington
Photo credit: Dunja Opalka

From ELLE Decoration

I’ve been a huge fan of Keith Haring for so long – he’s my hero. I read the journals he kept throughout his life, and was really moved by them – it was amazing to understand how his thought process worked. I love his approach to art; the way he wanted to make it accessible for everyone. His philosophy about the way art should be applied truly resonates with me. He was so in-demand by massive art buyers, but he was really interested in doing pop-ups and working with kids and communities.

In his journals, he talked a lot about Tseng Kwong Chi, a photographer with whom he developed a close friendship. I’d never bought photography or art before, but I came across a collection of Kwong Chi’s photographs through Eric Firestone Gallery, which represents him. Then, a few years ago at Art Basel, I found the gallery’s stand and saw the photograph in person.

I love the composition – his graffiti fills the frame, but it also frames him in the window. It was taken in Tokyo in 1987 at one of his ‘Pop Shops’, where he sold merchandise and artworks. It was inside a prefabricated container, which was quite avant-garde at the time. I contacted the gallery about three times, but each time I didn’t go through with buying the photograph as it was such a big investment. I finally bought it last year, almost two years after first seeing it. It lives in my studio, surrounded by plants, where I can look at it every day – it’s very special to me.

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration June 2020

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