deborah berke






Rico Espinetís showroom, Rico, is the embodiment of a lifelong interest in art, architecture, and design. The boundaries between these disciplines have blurred in recent years. Rico reflects this convergence, combining furnishings, lighting and accessories with fine art in a seamless environment. The effect is a stunning retail installation that reveals the interests, passions, and refined eye of Rico Espinet.

An honors graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Rico started as a sculptor. His interest in objects soon evolved to installations in which the placement of the sculpture became as important as the objects themselves. Lighting was an integral part of these installations, defining space and heightening the overall experience. While lighting continued to play an important role in Ricoís art, it also led to work that would transport him from the downtown music scene to the world of high fashion.

Throughout the 1980s, Rico created stage lighting for music industry showcases for artists such as Madonna, Sade, Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys among others. Lighting work for fashion designer Stephen Sprouse led to several years as a visual lighting consultant for Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, and Ralph Lauren. For his work in fashion, Rico received two Gene Moore Awards: for a Polo Sport window, and Comme des Garcons window created by Simon Doonan for Barneys.

In the mid-1990s, Rico returned to work in his studio, a converted elementary school, in upstate New York. A simple reading lamp and a serendipitous photo shoot at the studio sparked a new phase in his lighting work. A homemade lamp, fashioned with a microphone base leftover from his music days, landed in a national ad campaign and generated buzz Ė and some serious interest. Today, Rico designs residential and contract lighting for Robert abbey, Inc., a manufacturer based in North Carolina. He is also developing his own line of furnishings and accessories for introduction in fall 2002.

The curatorial aspect of his new showroom enables Rico to revisit some of the themes he explored in his installations- the interplay between objects, space and light- in a more commercial sphere. The goal is the same. Whether making art or designing a retail space, Rico Espinetís eloquent use of light and poetic sense of form inspire affirming environments of contemplation, comfort, and beauty.