ART, DESIGN AND CULTURAL REPORTAGE: NEW YORK — LONDON
28 May 2010

From May 7th- 28th American Design Club and Heller Gallery presented a show of works in glass by emerging designers. The show was the fifth in running by the AmDC since their establishment in 2008, and coincided with design week in New York. Here are some images from the private view (where noted credited images are via Heller Gallery’s website)

Heller Gallery

The Breakable show is overflowing with comparative interest to the contemporary glass work of the applied arts field. Heller Gallery typically focuses their curation on contemporary glass artists and the AmDC promotes emerging designers through shows normally based on conceptual themes but never before material. I’m lucky to spy on the glass students at the RCA- all making work that is deeply rooted in the interest of material quality and process. Many of them aim to highlight imperfections in the work so as to reveal the process of glass-making which is incredibly time consuming in labour and  pursuit of technical skill. The theme of glass puts many designers in an interesting arena because they do not necessarily have the same context and relationship with material as an artist or craftsman whose focus revolves primarily on application and process. Thus their ideas are held in a crossover that one might call applied concept; Some have a stronghold, convincing us that the material is an absolute to the design, while some were less so.  Harry Allen’s Steuben submission, ‘Sticks and Stones Bar Set’  is very clearly a concept applied to the theme of glass, contextualizing his cast bones and stones strongly by title and forms that are metaphorically contradictory with glass.  The casting process has been very consistent in Allen’s work with his Reality series based around the idea that we should only use existing form. For Steuben he has used this interest in realistic forms to further this conceptual plane with the asset of Steuben’s flawless production of crystal clear casting and glass craft.

Adversely Lara Knutson’s interests stem from material qualities. Her work (below), titled Soft Glass, is made of woven reflective glass fiber which creates rainbows on the contours of the piece, magnifying light 100 times due to 50,000 mircroscopic mirror backed glass beads in every square inch of the fabric. This fiber was woven into a what may be a traditional vessel form which is wonderfully slumped and scalloped because of the inherent material qualities.

Breakable Opening

LARA KNUTSON: SOFT GLASS2010reflective glass fabric, steel wire9"x18" round and flexible 9' h. x 18" diameter/ flexible

Detail

L: HARRY ALLEN with STEUBEN: STICKS AND STONES BAR SET 2010 R: ZAC WEINBERG KOZZIES (ANIMAL STEMS) 2010 glass11 3/4 X 4 X 4 in. (29.85 X 10.16 X 10.16 cm) Photos from Heller Gallery 2010

Title

By design there were also many applications of glass elements in the realms of furniture and jewelry. Matthew Bradshaw and Sergio Silva take advantage of the material structurally, contrasting and combining it with bamboo- arguably two materials that are not perceived as strong but used together to create stunning furniture that is both airy and strong.  Annie Lenon uses the ever-nostalgic glass cloche as an aid in her jewelry in order to preserve and hold private relics on your hand for display. The glass form in this instance is more of a referential tool, reminding us of the encyclopedic antiquities of the Wunderkammer.

ANNIE LENON: CLOCHE RING2010glass/silver1-1/2" and 2-1/2" long : Photo from Heller Gallery 2010

ERICA ROSENFELD: TIME CAPSULES 2010glass6 1/4 X 6 X 6 in. (15.88 X 15.24 X 15.24 cm)

MELISSA GAMWELL: ALICE LENS 2010 glass/silver/brushed gold silver lustre6 X 7 X 3 1/2 in. (15.24 X 17.78 X 8.89 cm)1 1/2"d. x 36" chain

MELISSA GAMWELL: ALICE LENS 2010glass/silver/brushed gold silver lustre6 X 7 X 3 1/2 in. (15.24 X 17.78 X 8.89 cm)1 1/2"d. x 36" chain

DYLAN PALMERSEALED AIR2008glass/mixed media10 X 12 X 19 in. (25.4 X 30.48 X 48.26 cm)

MATT BRADSHAW + SERGIO SILVA: L: SMALL BOWL 2010 glass 5 X 7 X 2 in. (12.7 X 17.78 X 5.08 cm) 389-0049 R:GLASS SHELVES 2010 glass/wood 92 X 40 X 12 in. (233.68 X 101.6 X 30.48 cm) Photos from Heller Gallery 2010

MATT BRADSHAW + SERGIO SILVALARGE BOWL2010glass14 X 11 X 7 1/2 in. (35.56 X 27.94 X 19.05 cm)

Designers L-R: Jude Heslin-di Leo, Jonathan Lee, Samuel Cochran, Bernardo Guillermo, Matthew Bradshaw

AO MONTEROSSO: WINE GOBLETS (set of four with funnel) 2010 blown glass/bendy straws7" high x 3" diameter

LINDSEY ADELMAN: WITH NANCY CALLAN CLUSTER CHANDELIER 2010 glass/lighting fixture 33 X 16 X 16 in. (83.82 X 40.64 X 40.64 cm) Photos from Heller Gallery 2010

L: JEFF DUNDAS / SUPERNATURAL & Co. CEIIINOSSSSTTUU 2010 glass 15 X 15 X 15 in. (38.1 X 38.1 X 38.1 cm) R: SARA MUSSELMAN WISHGLASSES 2010 glass 10 X 7 X 3 in. (25.4 X 17.78 X 7.62 cm) Photos from Heller Gallery 2010

This week in London the RCA Show One has opened with the graduate work from the Schools of Applied Arts so the upcoming post will cover some of their glass work for contrast.  The Breakable show presented 29 designers who are not all shown here but I strongly encourage a look at the Heller Gallery website to see the full exhibition.


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16 February 2010

This past week I took some work and travelled for the first time to Stockholm for the furniture fair. I was fortunate and thrilled to hear that Jasper Morrison was exhibiting his specimen collection of jugs, jars and pitchers, having missed it at London Design Week last September. Tucked away in the century-old, basement kitchen of  art collector Wilhelmina von Hallwyls’ antique-laden residence, the show was a great relief to the peripheral week of modern scandinavian furniture.

The kitchen seemed to be the only room in the house that wasn’t surfaced in decorative collections, appropriately so for Morrison’s ideology of “super normal”, purely function-based design.  The collection is a hand-picked group, plucked from thrift stores, flea markets and Morrison’s own home. Representing everyday life, which is the circumstance of pure function, the collection has a wonderful lack of pretention about its proposition of what makes vessels function as they do. The presentation is made without added context,  the purpose is to simply observe typologies of jugs, jars & pitchers.

As I am studying ceramic design, I found this collection to be a pop-up text book of function. An imperative question for design is why a new form should exist to serve the same purpose as millions of existing specimens are floating around in the  object stratosphere. Morrison is a designer who observes his predessesors, and offers new proposals, combining functional success and removing hindering qualities of form and material.  In the end his objects are equal in their visual anonymity, adding to the progressive timeline of industrial function. This could not be done without this level of observation.

Hallwyl Museum Kitchen

Detail

Watering Can

Teapot Specimen

To see this exhibition which is essentially pure research, without the glamour and pretention of a gallery was an interesting contrast to another show in London curated by designer Konstantin Grcic, titled ”Design Real” at the Serpentine Gallery. The work of both designers is exclusively function-based, although Grcic perhaps implies more biographical form to his work than Morrison.  The show at the Serpentine presents functional design as sterilized gallery work, by having plinths, white walls and minimal description; It proposes function by the standard of art, removing the observers inclination to get extremely close or touch. Morrison’s show on the other hand eliminates the gallery logic entirely, and uses a functional space to display functional objects- it could potentially be mistaken for the work of a neurotic house-keeper. The designer/curator is something that is being seen more and more as disciplines aggressively and publicly use one other in collaborations. Based on these two shows, what the designer, or maker, presents is seemingly more valuable in the aspect of proven observation, of what designers are competing with and what they deem successful.

Stove Detail

Specimens

Detail

Detail

Hallwyl Kitchen

Hallwyl Museum: Hamngatan 4, 111 47 Stockholm

The exhibition “Jugs, Jars & Pitchers”  is presented by Forum magazine and Henrik Nygren Design.

Forum is the Magazine for Scandinavian Architecture, Interiors and Design. Issue no.1 for 2010 includes an excellent article based on discussion with Morrison in regards to his new show.


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