BY Andre Jacob
Images by mathieu bitton
Four-time GRAMMY Award winning artist Lenny Kravitz never holds back. Not on stage. Not when it comes to style. Certainly not in his personal life. His latest project surely qualifies in that regard. Through Kravitz Design, the firm he formed in 2003, the rock god is heading up the “lobby to penthouse” décor of Paramount Bay, a 47-story residential tower in Downtown, Miami (set for early 2012) that will be Kravitz’s largest design job yet—and his future Miami pad. Of course, the fact that he’s doing this on the heels of releasing a new album, just before embarking on a world concert tour and in the midst of shooting a movie couldn’t help but make me wonder…
Lenny and I of course have been friends for a minute. We actually met on afternoon many summers ago at his house. Funny thing is I was hanging with Ricky Williams (former Miami Dolphin and current Baltimore Raven running back). There I was riding with Ricky when we arrive at this nice swanky Las Olas home. Ricky buzzes the intercom to the front door to get a reply from a male voice, “Who is it?” “It’s me.” The door pops open and we enter. First thing I see are several extremely pretty women scattered all around what I assume is the gathering room (family room to most but we are in South Florida and hoes like this give rooms names). Women are hardly dressed, a few are topless and all I can think of is ‘Ricky where are we?’ – seconds later I hear a ‘Yo Rick!” coming from behind me descending from the stairwell. Well that ‘Yo Rick” was coming from none other, Lenny Kravitz. Lenny was Lenny. Coming down the stairs wild hait, jeans, with no shirt. Embraced Ricky in a brotherly hug and shook my hand with a manly shake. Introductions were made and things just seem to go from there. I can’t say what all happen that afternoon but let’s just say this meeting came soon before Ricky’s retirement from the Miami Dolphins in 2004. [We] after the two [Ricky & Lenny] and a few of the girls had a little private indulgence the three of us final ventured out to Boca Raton for an afternoon get-a-way; another spot Lenny owned. But that was the first time I met Lenny. We have been friends since. Texting here and there, very few phone calls, hardly ever an email but for this interview Lenny took the time to pick up the phone like a true friend. My statements in this conversation are in bold red.
Like a real friend that he’s always been since that day he starts off asking me. “How have you been?” I’m good, you know nothing really changes. Same shit just a different day. “Who you telling.” We go back and forth catching up on this and that – who’s doing what and have you seen this person. You know, just like good ole buddies do when catching up on lost time. A few times we realize that we were in the same city at events and didn’t even see each other. Even found out that we were in the same hotel at the same time… small world.
Anyway we finally got around to doing the interview and this is what I can share. Of course there were several things we decided to keep off the record but like any friendship, one just can put all the business out there. But rest assure there is still plenty you would like to know.
You’re all over the place these days, aren’t you? Right now, I don’t even know where I am… in the back of a tour bus somewhere. Your firm was chosen to head up the design of Paramount Bay from a very small list that included designers like Yabu Pushelberg and Patricia Urquiola. Did knowing that make getting the job all that much sweeter? It’s just sweet in general. Sometimes it takes people a minute to comprehend that I can switch hats, so I am putting my all into this project. What do you have planned for the design? I find that a lot of places in Miami tend to be very sleek and white, which is fine, but I didn’t want to do that typical Miami thing here. I wanted more soul, more earth tones, more textures, so that’s where we’re going with it. Are there any Lenny signatures in there? I am really into very bold pieces that you might say are quite masculine but at the same time have a feminine quality to them. Should we expect a rock ’n’ roll vibe? I mean yes, but not in the way people think. When I think of rock ’n’ roll I think of that famous [Patrick Lichfield] photograph of Mick and Bianca Jagger right after their wedding in St. Tropez in the back of a Bentley with him wearing that three-piece suit. Rock ’n’ roll to me is over-the-top, but still elegant. Do you find the creative process for music and interior design similar in any way? For me it’s the same animal. When you’ve cut the initial rhythm track of a song, you then have to figure out where to put drums, strings, percussion, background vocals; that’s the same way you figure out a space. You start with an empty room and then you layer it. What can you tell us about your part in the screen adaptation of The Hunger Games? Not much, but if you’ve read the book you know it’s another world. Gary Ross is directing. The shoot is coming up and I know it’s going to be incredible. And you’re also going on tour this fall? Yes, in September. My new album [dropped] on August 29, so I’m doing a lot. (Black and White America) All at one time. My plate is quite full.