Showcasing a series of diverse galleries and exhibitors brought together by their focus on innovation in both vintage and contemporary design, Collective is an important anchor event during the festivities of NYCxDesign.
The show does a great job of incorporating site-specific, commissioned installations throughout the fair, allowing for a more in-depth exploration of ideas. This year, Nendo and Cranbrook Academy of Art are the subjects of special spotlight exhibitions that highlight their respective influence on the design world right now. We were especially excited about the launch of Collective Concept, a platform for independent studios who don't have traditional gallery representation to present their work and ideas.
Without further ado, here are our must-see picks:
Brooklyn-based Fort Standard, a partnership made up of Pratt graduates Gregory Buntain and Ian Collings, is casting the most traditional, natural materials—wood, stone and leather—in a new light. The large wardrobe pictured above is made of soapstone, carved with woodworking tools until it was thin and light enough to work as a cabinet. Through experimentation, the duo has pushed the materials to their structural limits—creating pieces that are sculptural, functional and refreshing in their simplicity.
Ian Stell is showcasing the latest works in his spellbinding series of transforming pieces, painstakingly crafted out of wood and brass pivots. The latest evolution of the work features the use of color laminate, a move that further complicates the way we read the surface of each piece as it contracts and expands in its various incarnations.
Each year, Collective highlights the career and work of a single designer or studio. This year, Tokyo-based nendo is front and center with an installation of lighting and cabinets located in the entrance to the fair. The exhibit highlights the studio's iterative process with several dozen variations of cabinets that translate a sense of movement through an abstract notation of the way drawers swing open and close.
An exhibition of graduate work from the Cranbrook Academy of Art's department of 3D Design explores apocalyptic ideas through critical, reflective design objects. Some of the projects hint at the theme formally, like Frank McGovern's tesselated table (pictured above), which adapts patchwork quilting techniques in steel, using the material's rusted patina to suggest a sense of decay. Likewise, Evan Fay's Vine Chair suggests a sense of "beauty in chaos" through a complex tangle of steel, brass, foam and scuba knit fabric. Other projects are more grounded in a critique of our present condition. Vineta Chugh's lamp series takes population data and translates it into little architectural forms—as the data increases, the light becomes dimmed through "the weight of all these passengers."
The Brooklyn and Medellín-based designer expands on his trademark technique of aluminum sand-casting in this new collection, shown against a bespoke wallpaper he collaborated on with Designtex. Wolston applies the technique to aluminum foam sheeting most commonly found in architectural sound-proofing to create a discordant collection of tables, lighting, seating and tabletop objects.
Studio Proba and Bower teamed up to present a multi-sensory immersive installation for Sight Unseen. With a recurring water element throughout the pieces, the setup establishes a tranquil, meditative environment as a welcome respite and counterbalance to the hectic nature of design fairs.
The Korean-born designer has developed a complex technique that creates very unexpected objects. She starts with a base piece, in this case a small sofa, and adds a collage of other objects on top of it—it's a pretty fun guessing game trying to figure out what's underneath—then wraps the resulting assemblage in thin leather strips, a process that takes at least six months from start to finish.
Art and design studio CW&T is on site, working on their process piece, Roto-Jam. Their material exploration has led them to a process of particle jamming, to produce thin-shelled casts out of re-usable, dynamic molds. Check out the video below to see it in action:
If intricate wood carvings are your jam, make sure to stop by Converso's booth, showcasing mid-century modernists Jan de Swart and Wendell Castle through a variety of functional designs as well as some purely sculptural eye-candy, like the intricate ship carving pictured above.
Shizue Imai's ceramic works draw on classic and primitive techniques and references from Africa, Asia and the Americas. The experimental works feel both ancient and modern, elegant and raw—and demonstrate the endless potential of ceramic as a material and process.
Collective Design is on view through Sunday, May 8th.
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