An exhibition celebrating the Italian architect and designer Massimo Vignelli. On display is a selection of works designed by Massimo and Lella Vignelli over the course of an outstanding career of almost fifty years.
The pieces on display, which are on loan from the Vignelli Center for Design Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology – as well as other examples of the designers’ graphic, furniture, interior and architectural design, which are featured in a slide show in the gallery – are at once disciplined and playful. A trio of colored glass and silver carafes, produced in the late 1950s by the Italian glassmaker Venini and the French silversmith Christofle, strike a perfect balance between formal rigor and sensuality. (Their handles’ U-shaped profile was later translated into plastic for the cups and mugs of the Vignellis’ famous stacking tableware for Heller, which is also on view.) Simple, elegant flatware and glassware (for Sasaki and for an Italian hotel chain) are shown alongside an array of sleek but practical watches for the Swiss company Junod. If the show has a shortcoming apart from its size – what’s there makes you want to see more – it’s that it doesn’t tell the stories behind the products, like the 1962 table lamp for Arteluce that was designed to be shipped flat and assembled at home, or the delicately colored Murano glass barware by Venini that was originally designed for the Vignellis’ wedding.
The Dutchman Gerrit Rietveld (1888 – 1964) was one of the most important designers and architects of the 20th century. He was trained as a carpenter and was associated early on with the De Stijl movement and its central figures, Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Beginning in 1918, his work reflects the artistic ideals of this group. Rietveld transformed objects and buildings into abstract compositions of lines and planes, mainly in black, white, grey and the primary colours yellow, red and blue. However, he initially developed his legendary Red-Blue Chair in 1918 without the striking colour scheme from which its name is derived – the coloured version dates from the year 1923. Rietveld’s first architectural project, the now legendary Rietveld-Schröder House, followed in 1924. In search of ways to further develop his radical aesthetic ideas, Rietveld soon distanced himself from the aesthetics of De Stijl. Throughout the 1930s, he pursued experimental work, especially with innovative materials such as plywood and aluminium. One example of the unusual furnishings created out of these materials is the Zig-Zag Chair (c. 1932). After 1945, Rietveld was primarily active as an architect, designing prestigious buildings such as the Dutch Pavilion on the premises of the Venice Biennale. By the time of the major De Stijl retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1952/53, Rietveld had attained international recognition as a pioneer of modern design. This Vitra Design Museum exhibition is the first major retrospective on Gerrit Rietveld to be presented to the German-speaking public since 1996. Comprising around 320 objects – including furniture, models, paintings, photographs, films and approximately 100 original drawings and plans – it offers a comprehensive overview of the Dutch designer’s work. In addition, it incorporates comparative works by contemporaries such as Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck, Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer, thus shedding light on the mutual exchange of ideas and Rietveld’s place in the context of other modernist currents.
Viewed in the light of this new retrospective, many facets of Gerrit Rietveld’s work prove to be astonishingly relevant today. For example, his urban plans appear to have much more in common with current developments than many radical utopian concepts put forth by other modernist architects, since Rietveld’s were based on social aspects rather than dogmatic principles. And with a series of furniture for self-assembly in the 1930s and ’40s, Rietveld anticipated even today’s do-it-yourself trend and the concept of “open design”.
Gerrit Rietveld: The Revolution of Space, May 17 – September 16, at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Illustration by architect Tadao Ando of the Farnsworth House (1945-51) designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. (Image: Farnsworth House, 2009, Ink on paper, 18 1/2” x 12 3/4” each, Courtesy of the architect.)
Eindhoven-based design duo Raw Color toast the opening of Martin Creed’s grand overhaul of London’s Sketch restaurant with graphic still lifes dedicated to the restaurant’s new menu. The Turner Prize winning artist’s takeover saw him entirely revamp Sketch’s interiors, hanging his large-scale paintings along the walls and hand-picking each individual table, chair and piece of cutlery, as well as contributing in the kitchen. Sketch co-founder and Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire conceived two playfully named dishes dedicated to the conceptual artist–“Navet Martin Creed” and “Dundee Pinky”. Raw Color concocted their Irving Penn-esque visions from each dish’s disassembled ingredients, including black olive jelly, squid ink and parmesan cream. “The cooking side of the project was harder to translate into our own visual language,” says Christoph Brach, one half of Raw Color with Daniera ter Haar. “But looking at Creed and his approach to projects, how he organizes things, stacking from big to small, we knew we could take the ingredients and do something similar with them.” In typical Creed fashion the artist has even given the project a numbered title: Work No. 1347.
Read more: Edible Sculptures at Sketch
The first special project by White Cube in Brazil, Facts and Systems (Fatos e Sistemas) is an exhibition of two new series of works. In one room, the artist will present dramatic body forms made from stacked, mild steel blocks that punctuate and articulate the gallery. In another room, he will present a group of linear sculptures made from 6mm steel road that continue his investigation into architectural space.
Following a string of limited edition collaborations, Leica is back with a third in a line of special M-System cameras built with the help of renowned Parisian fashion house, Hermès. The partnership results in two special editions, with a total of 300 Edition Hermès digital rangefinders set to ship beginning in June for $25,000, while 100 “very special” Edition Hermès — Sèrire Limitèe Jean-Louis Dumas models will release in July for — $50,000. Both editions will be offered as complete kits, with the “cheaper” of the two built with soft calfskin leather with a silver chrome finish for its redesigned control points, complete with a Leica Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. optic. The “other” arrives with three lenses, the Leica Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 ASPH., a Leica Noctilux-M 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH. and a Leica APO-Summicron-M 90 mm f/2 ASPH — all with an anodized silver finish.
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Building Construction/Geodesic Dome, United States Patent Office no. 2,682,235, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print in white ink on clear polyester film; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati.
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Motor Vehicle-Dymaxion Car, United States Patent Office no. 2,101,057, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print in white ink on clear polyester film; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati.
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Undersea Island-Submarisle, United States Patent Office no. 3,080,583,from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print on Lenox paper; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati.
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Non-Symetrical Tension-Integrity Structures, United States Patent Office no. 3,866,366, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print in white ink on clear polyester film; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati.
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Laminar Geodesic Dome, United States Patent Office no. 3,203,144, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print in white ink on clear polyester film; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati.
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, 4D House, United States Patent Office no. 1,793, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print on Lenox paper; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati.
The Bay Area has long attracted dreamers, progressives, nonconformists, and designers. Buckminster Fuller was all of these, and although he never lived in San Francisco, his ideas have spawned many local experiments in technology, design, and sustainability. The first to consider Fuller’s legacy in the Bay Area, this exhibition features some of his most iconic projects, as represented in a Fuller print portfolio recently acquired by SFMOMA, Inventions: Twelve Around One. Along with Fuller inventions like the 4D House, Geodesic Dome, World Game, and Dymaxion car, the exhibition presents Bay Area endeavors — from Ant Farm’s 1972 domed Convention City proposal to the North Face Oval Intention tent, and from IwamotoScott’s Jellyfish House to One Laptop Per Child — inspired by Fuller’s visionary designs connecting technology, ecology, and social responsibility.
The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area, March 31 – July 29, 2012,
at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA
Chandlo was designed as a special prototype made by BD Barcelona for Das Haus 2012. This was an installation by Doshi Levien for IMM Cologne that explored their vision of a perfect home. Das Haus consisted of interconnected spaces opening up to a central courtyard. The different areas of the home depended mainly on objects and furniture to define space.
The seemingly abstract composition of the mirrors, cabinet and surface is based on the gestures and daily ritual of dressing up and grooming, celebrating the enjoyment of getting dressed and the importance of personal grooming as part of our daily well being ritual.
An architectural composition of forms and planes are designed to be viewed from all sides, revealing different aspects of the object as you walk around it. Chandlo means moon shape and also Bindi that is the coloured dot worn by Indian women on the forehead to which the circular mirror makes reference.
Our intention was to create a composition in which the elements are holding each other in position without actually touching. To maintain the simplicity of this deconstructed arrangement, we had to conceal the production methods and this presented many technical challenges overcome masterfully by BD Barcelona.
Chandlo Dressing Table, by Doshi Levien
After almost ten years, Eric Jourdan is back to present his design in a gallery on invitation by Marie Bérangère Gosserez. With three pieces and a series of vases, he positions his plastic and functional morphology in a striking way as he is one of the rare French designers able to do it. Once you like Jourdan, you will always like him as his design is so constant it is symbolic of designers with design as the driving force ‘At the beginning I never imagine an object or a piece of furniture as a whole, I draw a detail (an assemblage, a groove, a link…) which will lead me to another and then another … This method is linked to the practice of drawing which creates a continuous link between all these sketches. The organisation of these forms follows later. I arrange, remove, build and assemble elements which become different pieces.”
“Drawing can be liberating or imprisoning; it depends on where we stop the infernal machine which consists of covering whole notebooks. That is where your associate steps in: organising; clarifying; making you take a step back. For this exhibition the role was fulfilled by Marie-Bérangère Gosserez.”
There is no story telling with Eric Jourdan and therefore no scenarios, leaving room for pure form, like his fellow students Charpin, Bauchet, Bouroullec and no artistic sanctification of his plastic manipulation either : “Showing work in a gallery could be seen as an outlet allowing a designer to be liberated from industrial or commercial constraints, but this is not so, design does not just happen on its own without a drawing, without a gallery owner or a manufacturer…Through this exhibition, I want to show that everything will always be just exchanges, mistakes, disappointment, tension, feedback, progress and pleasure. I do not believe in the posture of artists; it is all about co-production in our profession.’
Promenade console table, Mirror Tower, Sign floor lamp, Blocks vases
Forms, by Eric Jourdan, at Galerie Gosserez
“Plywood,” explained Popular Science in 1948, “is a layercake of lumber and glue.” In the history of design, plywood is also an important modern material that has given 20th-century designers of everyday objects, furniture, and even architecture greater flexibility in shaping modern forms at an industrial scale. This installation features examples, drawn from MoMA’s collection, of modern designs that take advantage of the formal and aesthetic possibilities offered by plywood, from around 1930 through the 1950s. Archival photographs illuminate the process of design and manufacture in plywood. Iconic furniture by Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Arne Jacobsen appear alongside Organic Platters by Tapio Wirkkala (1951), Sori Yanagi’s Butterfly Stool (1956), an architectural model for a prefabricated house by Marcel Breuer (1943), and experimental designs for plywood in the aeronautics industry.
Plywood: Material, Process, Form, at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, Photography © Jason Mandella