Franco-Lebanese Designer Charles Kalpakian Channels the ’50s at PAD Paris

It recently feels as though the design world is letting loose. From a renewed interest in the members of the Memphis Group to new interpretations of exuberant forms and bursts of bright color, designers are embracing experimentation and whimsy again and—dare we say it—even having some fun.

  • Installation view of Galerie BSL at PAD Paris. Courtesy Galerie BSL.

    Installation view of Galerie BSL at PAD Paris. Courtesy Galerie BSL.

At PAD Paris 2015, the hometown Galerie BSL presents the work of Charles Kalpakian, a young Franco-Lebanese designer whose colorful creations reinterpret all the energy of ’50s pop (and its ’80s revival) into forms that are totally of-the-moment blends of retrofuturism. The designer combines a range of influences into his work: the cultural history of his native Lebanon, the French design tradition, and the graphic quality and urban energy of street art, among them.

In his creations, like the Moon I (A) (2014) armchair and Vessel (2014) desk, both on view at PAD, color and line are co-stars. The desk’s curving brass limbs take on a calligraphic quality in space, while the armchair makes a dramatic statement in its combinations of rich jewel tones and other saturated hues. Contrast and embellishment are omnipresent in the designer’s work, with details like the chair’s tufted armrest and the desk’s interplay between brushed brass, Corian, and ebonized oak giving the furniture an element of ornamentation usually only found in jewelry or the decorative arts.   

In other pieces, like his “Kineticism” series of lacquered wall cabinets, Kalpakian has fun with both form and function. In these wall-mounted works, Kalpakian blurs the line between art and design with pieces that serve as both statements in geometric abstraction and as functional furniture for displaying objects.

  • Installation view of Galerie BSL at PAD Paris. Courtesy Galerie BSL.

    Installation view of Galerie BSL at PAD Paris. Courtesy Galerie BSL.

At Galerie BSL’s PAD booth, such designs are a stark yet complimentary contrast to softer statements in pastel porcelain by Dutch ceramicist Djim Berger. In their lightness, Berger’s stools and botanical installations offer a cool counterpoint to Kalpakian’s more dramatic pieces—proving that when design doesn’t take itself too seriously, everyone can get along.

Heather Corcoran

Visit Galerie BSL at PAD Paris 2015, Mar. 26–Mar. 29, 2015.

Follow Galerie BSL on Artsy.