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Optical Variations by Damien Bénéteau

The M.A.D.Gallery is hosting “Optical Variations”, an exhibit by French artist Damien Bénéteau, featuring four of his illuminated, hypnotizing monochromatic mobiles. A photographer by training, Bénéteau creates art dedicated to light, capturing it in a playful and energetic way that renders it nearly tangible. Bénéteau’s kinetic sculptures reflect his fascination with how an object’s volume is perceived in various lighting situations and his interest in mechanics and machines. “My greatest influences come from minimalist sculpture, seen in the mixture of geometric aesthetics, austerity and simplicity found in my work” says the artist.

In three of his installations for the M.A.D.Gallery – “Length Variations”, “Circular Variations” and “Spatial Variations” – the French artist plays with pendulums, pairing their oscillating movement with light to create a trio of mesmerizing phenomena. “Sphérolithe”, in contrast, sees the former photographer moving away from the continuous movement of the pendulum, rather letting light emanating from a stationary point speak for itself. The light pulsates like the throbbing of a heartbeat: consistent, calm, calculated.

Operating from his own atelier in the suburb of Paris, Bénéteau, a connoisseur of machinery, uses milling, polishing and metal turning machines to create his structures, each one requiring between three and six months of work.

Optical Variations, by Damien Bénéteau

Ehibition: Drawings by Arthur Erickson

Arthur Erickson: Lignes topographiques / Site Lines
World-renowned Canadian architect, Arthur Erickson (1924-2009) created a remarkable body of work, distinguished by the quality of its relationship to site and landscape. Organized by the Canadian Architectural Archives (CAA) of the University of Calgary, which holds a large Erickson collection, this exhibition presents drawings and sketches illustrating eight of the Vancouver architect’s projects designed during the 1960s: five residences, two university campuses (including the famous project for Simon Fraser University), and the Canada pavilion for Expo 70 in Osaka. The exhibition will also be an opportunity to revisit Erickson’s Montreal connection, with a special section prepared by the Centre de Design: two projects designed when Erickson was a student at McGill University (1946-1950), two pavilions for Expo 67, and one intriguing project for a residential complex designed with the idea of offering a monumental entrance to downtown Montreal.

Drawings, by Arthur Erickson, at the UQAM Centre de Design, Montréal, Canada

Photography: Brasilia by Øystein Aspelund

Brasilia was built out on the brazilian savannah in four year during the 60s, based upon a masterplan made by Lúcio Costa. Most of the important buildings are designed by the brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The lay out of the urban plan resembles an airplane, containing two main axes with the main governmental functions in what would be the “cockpit” of the plane. The pilot plan with its huge open spaces, buildings, streets and public squares was meant to be represent an ideal city of future, true to the ideals of modernistic city planning of that time. Today Brasilia stands out as a well planned utopian future city from the past. Whatever the conclusion might be on the urban planning, the collection of buildings stands out as an impressive work of modern architecture.

Brasilia, by Øystein Aspelund

Mad Men Monument by Lorenzo Apicella

Over the course of seven seasons, the landmark series “Mad Men” has charted the rise of ad man Don Draper in the “Golden Age” of advertising in 1960s New York. The bench is located in front of the Time & Life Building, fictional home of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Designed by Pentagram’s Lorenzo Apicella, Michael Bierut and Emily Oberman, the monument takes the form of a sleek, elegant bench that features the iconic graphic of Draper from the show’s opening title sequence.

The idea behind the bench is strong and simple. The silhouette of Don with his arm draped over a couch has become a symbol of “Mad Men,” seen in the final moments of the opening titles designed by Imaginary Forces. The show’s story is told against the backdrop of massive cultural changes in the 1960s, and the graphic pictures Don sitting back, taking it all in. The bench invites visitors to do the same, to take a moment and observe the excitement of New York around them. Fans are welcome to “drape” themselves on the bench like Don, and take and post photos.

“Mad Men,” and Don in particular, are known for their cool, consummate sense of style, and the show has been credited with renewing interest in mid-century modern design. Rather than recreate the look of the period, Apicella’s design for the bench echoes it in clean, smooth lines that make the monument the chicest, most sophisticated piece of street furniture in the city. Comprised of only two pieces, the 12-foot-long bench combines a ½” thick-rolled steel plate seat and back, balanced on a 10-foot-long cast concrete base. Don’s silhouette is cut from the seat, which has a powder-coated black finish with white painted graphic elements. The concrete base color was selected to complement the existing plaza paving pattern.

Mad Men Monument, by Lorenzo Apicella with Michael Bierut and Emily Oberman

Project EGG by Michiel van der Kley

Project EGG is an object measuring 5 x 4 x 3 meter, composed of 4760 uniquely shaped stones, 3D-printed by Studio Michiel van der Kley together with hundreds of co-creators all over the world. The largest 3D-printing community art project so far. A new way of creating and collaborating. You could call Project EGG a poetic pavilion. The building has an organic form and structure where the floor, walls and ceiling fully and seamlessly merge. It has been constructed with 4760 open, elegantly designed stones, each one’s shape unique. Many small elements together forming a large structure, as in the objects from nature that designer Michiel van der Kley likes to look at, such as crocodile skin, corn cobs, coral. He finds in these a language of segmentation which he merges with the possibilities of desktop 3D-printing; when you see a large object as the total of many small elements the potential is limitless. The material is new, PLA, re-usable and biodegradable. Also the way this object is produced is new; not by a factory but by a community. Project EGG invites you to enter it and to be inundated by the play of light and shade, to see 100 shades of white and to experience space and emptiness at the same time.

This is the largest desktop 3d-printed co-creation art project so far. During his research on the potential of the 3D-printer, Van der Kley came into contact with bloggers and digital communities all over the world. He learned much from them and invited them to print one of the stones for Project EGG. Since each stone has to be printed individually, it is very easy to make slight variations in each design. Participants received the digital version for their unique stone in which their name has been included.

Project EGG, by Michiel van der Kley

Formafantasma: From Then On by Established & Sons

In the center of the vault-like room is a brass pendulum, which swings back and forth every second. This is meant to symbolize our fight against time, as the brass base would naturally oxidize over time yet the polishing brush at the bottom of the pendulum keeps that process from occurring. Nearby stands two connected saxophones, which emit a sound every 15 minutes like a classic horological sentinel. “This is our town church bell,” Trimarchi explains. A massive slate of round Carrera marble represents time as a circular motion. The handless clock is comprised of two concentric circles, and when the veins in the marble match up, one hour has passed by. An elegant fan clock in another part of the room expresses time as a repetitive pattern. Over the course of five minutes, the shade circumnavigating the brass center playfully unfolds and folds back up again as a reminder of our most common way of measuring time.

Formafantasma: From Then On, by Established & Sons
Photography by Established & Sons and Karen Day

Xavier Veilhan. Architectones Barcelona Pavilion

The Barcelona show is something of an intervention, with a diagonal walkway slashing across the famously rectangular floor plan to set up a dialogue with the solitary existing sculpture in the Pavilion, Georg Kolbe’s ‘Alba (Dawn)’, which stands on a small plinth in the smaller of the building’s two reflecting pools. Veilhan has reinterpreted Kolbe’s figure in four figures of descending scale, using different materials in a homage to Mies’ simple, rich palette of glass, steel and marble. The pools have been partly built over, offering visitors new perspectives on spaces made iconic through photography, reproduction and imitation.

‘My curatorial role was focused on researching together with Xavier Veilhan about the history of the pavilion, the characters and conditions that defined its design and how we could connect with that through our project,’ Gonzalo Herrero Delicado explains. ‘It was also important for the Barcelona installation to create a conversation with the rest of the exhibitions.’ The architect oversaw all aspects of the project, from liaising with the MvdR Foundation to secure permissions to finding the local architects, MAIO, to build the final design.

Xavier Veilhan. Architectones, at The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona Spain
Photography by Florian Kleinefenn

Exbiotanica by Makoto Azuma

“Flowers aren’t just beautiful to show on tables,” said Makoto Azuma, a 38-year-old artist based in Tokyo. His latest installation piece, if you could call it that, takes this statement to the extreme. Two botanical objects – “Shiki 1,” a Japanese white pine bonsai suspended from a metal frame, and an untitled arrangement of orchids, hydrangeas, lilies and irises, among other blossoms – were launched into the stratosphere on Tuesday in Black Rock Desert outside Gerlach, Nevada, a site made famous for its hosting of the annual Burning Man festival. ”I wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space,” Azuma explained that morning.

Exbiotanica, by Makoto Azuma, via: T Magazine
Read More: Water and Bonsai

De Natura Fossilium by Studio Formafantasma

“Mount Etna is a mine without miners – it is excavating itself to expose its raw materials.” Studio Formafantasma, in collaboration with Gallery Libby Sellers, present ‘De Natura Fossilium’ – an investigation into the culture of lava in the Mount Etna and Stromboli regions of Sicily, two of the last active volcanoes in Europe.

Formafantasma questions the link between tradition and local culture and the relationship between objects and the idea of cultural heritage. De Natura Fossilium is a project that refuses to accept locality as touristic entertainment. Instead, the work of Formafantasma is a different expedition in which the landscape is not passively contemplated but restlessly sampled, melted, blown, woven, cast and milled. From the more familiar use of basalt stone to their extreme experiments with lava in the production of glass and the use of volcanic fibers for textile, Formafantasma’s explorations and the resulting objects realise the full potential of the lava as a material for design.

‘De Natura Fossilium’, by Studio Formafantasma, for Gallery Libby Sellers, London, Photography by Luisa Zanzani

Exhibition: Living Laboratory: Richard Pare on Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov

Richard Pare’s fascination with modernist architecture shines through his vast collection of images taken over several decades. Living Laboratory will illustrate how he photographs buildings, taking care to reveal both their many subtleties and magnificent monumentality. Pare’s perceptive point of view brings into play dramatic use of light, (always achieved with no supplemental lighting) as well as varied weather conditions and seasons.

To achieve his images he deploys a wide range of technical approaches, combining conventional film and a view camera with the latest advances in digital image making. These state-of-the-art aspects of his work serve to highlight the majesty of his subjects without in any way overwhelming the purposes of the undertaking. He is also attentive to the effects of the passage of time and changing social conditions on the works he chooses to portray. The absence of human beings, coupled with signs of wear and decay, including creeping vegetation and the lingering evidence of past eras, emphasise the impermanence of seemingly solid structures and their struggle for survival.

While Pare’s work covers many subjects, Living Laboratory reveals his admiration for Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, two of the finest and earliest proponents of modernist principles in architecture.

Living Laboratory: Richard Pare on Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, March 21 – May 11, 2014, PM Gallery & House, London, United Kingdom
Photography by Richard Pare

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