If you picture a Steinway grand piano, it probably has sinuously tapered legs, maybe a curlicue or two, the overall effect one of grace, tradition and elegance. Your mental image probably does not include outsized, hulking, rough-hewn black legs, and a contrastingly glossy, tiger-striped body overlaid with chevrons and zigzags. The difference is Lenny Kravitz.
Two years ago, Steinway invited the multi-award-winning musician, designer, style icon, actor and now writer (he has a memoir out), to design a limited edition of their Model B series. Yet the initial reaction of the venerable piano manufacturer, when Lenny Kravitz presented them with his design, was a collective raised eyebrow.
A visual tour de force, his concept marries elements of the Art Deco and Art Moderne styles with nods to African art, mixing rich woods and metals. Hand-painted geometric carvings run across the piano’s lid and sides, referencing traditional tribal motifs, while cheetah-print upholstery tops the bench. But the most show-stopping feature may be the poplar legs, whose blocky heft and distinctive notchings were inspired by the West African sculptures that Lenny Kravitz has long collected. Resembling charred timber, these structural supports mark a surprising departure for Steinway—which has been creating instruments for the world’s leading musicians since 1853.