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Photographer Simon – Fashion Editor Roberto Strumolo – Talent Benjamin Patch – Grooming Cristina Bertaggia – Photography Assistant Simona Pavan – Fashion Assistant Simone Morelli – Interview by Chelsea McPartlon // Tank Top and Shoes Ferragamo – Trousers Acne Studios // Total Look – Ferragamo // Tank Top and Shoes Ferragamo – Trousers Acne Studios

Sweater Boss – Trousers Canali // Shirt JordanLuca – Trousers Herno – Shoes Marni

From your incredible career as a former professional athlete to now a design director at ‘Be.Assembly’, which you found in the midst of COVID-19, you’re one impressive guy! That being said, how did your jump from two such drastic industries begin?

Well, I have to say it’s never my goal or has never been my goal to impress. everything I’ve done from a very young age comes from my core and my hope is when it comes out of me that the world will appreciate it. As with whatever I do it usually isn’t deeply considered within me. Whether that was jumping in the air on the volleyball court, shaping mud on a wheel or considering the height of a wall in a space. I wouldn’t say there’s been a drastic jump within myself from athletics to now design rather these are things I believe have always been part of my dance. Each one has its time and will take precedence. In my most recent years, I felt a natural shift within myself. Perhaps I was also subject to the huge shifts we all felt worldwide but I followed it and have stuck with it to where it’s landed me now.

Going off this, how were you as a child? Did you always have a passion for sports? And what about a passion for the creative world?

Since my earliest memories, I’ve experienced a sense of duality. I recall moments of adventurous exploration, like climbing trees and racing through the streets of Tonga barefoot. Yet, I also cherish memories of quiet solitude, such as digging deep into the earth as a young child to uncover natural clay, which I used to craft bowls that would harden in the sun, adorning my bedside table with rings and jewellery. In addition, I can vividly recall attending church services at a very young age, where instead of listening to the sermons, I found myself leaning against my mother, sketching women’s clothing on the back of church programs. These experiences reflect the diverse influences in my life, stemming from the contrasting backgrounds of my biological parents—one a professional athlete, the other a creative and crafty individual. I view this blend as a beautiful gift passed down to me, allowing me to embody both aspects of their legacy. Embracing this complexity has enabled me to navigate between different worlds, never fully fitting into one mold but finding connection and resonance across a broader spectrum.

This special interview for The Greatest Magazine’s website is centered around the theme of a handshake or meeting. For you, what handshake marked your career as an athlete?

I appreciate this question, especially considering my affinity for hands-on activities like pottery. The tactile connection we experience through a handshake or touch holds profound significance for me. It serves as a tangible affirmation of human connection, transcending words or gestures alone. Reflecting on these interactions, I can’t help but ponder their deeper meaning. What does it truly signify for us as individuals to shake hands, forge a bond, or make a promise? In my own life, I’ve found profound connections through simple gestures like handshakes. One such connection was with my best friend, Taylor, during my athletic career. At the time, Taylor was unaware of my sexuality or personal struggles, yet he embraced me unconditionally. This was particularly meaningful given the challenges I faced as an athlete who didn’t conform to the typical mold, amidst rumors about my sexuality. Despite the complexities of those times, Taylor’s friendship and the simple act of his (metaphorical) handshake served as a catalyst for my success in sports and strengthened my belief in myself.

Total Look – Ferragamo // Polo Shirt MIU MIU – Trousers Canali

Additionally, what was the handshake that was most significant for you into the creative world?

In recent years, I’ve found myself increasingly disillusioned by some of my interactions, particularly within the creative sphere. Transitioning from the world of sports to this new landscape, I was taken aback by the dynamics of human interaction. Interestingly, the most impactful handshakes I’ve experienced during this time have been those that were ultimately broken. While initially disheartening, these experiences have been invaluable teachers, offering profound lessons about the nature of integrity and connection. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow, especially in my youth and at this stage of my career. These encounters have shed light on the diverse array of individuals inhabiting the creative world—both inspiring and disappointing in equal measure. In my view, the creative realm would benefit greatly from a deeper commitment to integrity and meaningful connections. By honouring our promises and connections, we can elevate not only the human experience but also the creative process itself, amidst a world that often seems increasingly uniform.

Your company Be.Assembly is based in Berlin, which is where you now live. However, you’ve lived in many different places. From where you were born Utah, U.S to the island of Tonga to Japan to Italy to now Germany. Can you tell us how this shaped you into the man you’re today?

Interestingly, I’ve recently made the move from Berlin to Italy, relocating my firm, Be.Assembly, to operate from there while I transition to New York City. This opportunity arose for me to contribute as the new art director for any company I believe in. It feels like a fantastic chance to dive into a new scale of work and opportunities I’ve yet to explore. Adding New York City to my list of residences is quite amusing! Over the years, living in various places has afforded me the privilege of meeting incredible people everywhere I go. Some of the most enchanting individuals are hidden away in old cinemas along the southern coast of Italy, in secret gardens nestled in German cities, or even in fisherman villages just north of Kyoto. I hope to make all of these people proud, as each one has inspired me to strive, and striving is everything.

How and why did you settle on Berlin to live and create your company?

After deciding to retire from sports, I felt compelled to remain in Berlin, driven by a sense of fear. I had built such a story and had many a connection to the city and to the pulse of Berlin and therefore felt it’d be the most beneficial to stay there. I have however learnt in the last years how important change is. I’ve loved Berlin, it’s perfect because Berlin is exactly what it is meant to be. Time. Berlin is there in and without time. I’m grateful that I stayed as it was graceful to me and gave that length for discovery but to stay there longer would be to sacrifice the gift and that’s why I’ve shifted things to Italy for the company and move myself to New York.

Tank Top and Shoes Ferragamo – Trousers Acne Studios // Total Look – Ferragamo 

Let’s take a moment for the most important person in your life. Who is it, and what about them inspires you the most?

Well, that’s a rather tricky question (Laughs, E.D). I’ve experienced many instances of greatness throughout my life. Some have stemmed from observing the interactions of young children or sitting down and listening to the wisdom of those who’ve lived on this Earth longer than I have. I find inspiration in any creature that’s unlocked the will to be genuinely themselves, completely and unapologetically.

I read you love creating ceramics. Where does your inspiration come from, and where do you begin?

I have been playing with that mud for a very long time more than half my life. As I said earlier it began as a young child digging up dirt in my backyard and later as a teenager when I didn’t feel safe walking the halls of school so I’d go practice with my art teacher turning on the potter’s wheel. I will say everything happens for a reason and I’m grateful for the way that turning clay came to be.

Be.Assembly is a multi-disciplinary collective studio working across design, architecture, self-produced objects and ceramic work, that’s significantly grown in a short amount of time. Where and what do you hope to see in the future for Be.Assembly?

We’ve been very fortunate with some nice projects, collaborations, and ideas. Right now we’re working and designing a couple of nice Hospitality spaces along the Mediterranean which of course take a few years to finish and that’s our focus now. My hope is that Be.Assembly defies the rhythm of a contemporary Studio, defies the necessity to fit images on a grid, and empowers designers to think and create. in fact, as we grow I find it very interesting to employ people that have a very obscure understanding or path to design. That’s what I hope, Be.Assembly will continue to be genuine to itself.

Benjamin, ending on a personal note and looking back, did you ever imagine this would’ve been your life and career?

Yes (Smiles, E.D).