Design and Discourse at P!

In math, the notion of permutation relates to the idea rearranging objects or values. Signified by an exclamation point (n!), permutations are used to determine the algorithmic possibilities that different arrangements of numbers can create.

P! is a project-based gallery in New York’s Chinatown that encourages the various disciplines of art and design to mingle, collide and collaborate. Started in September of 2012 by Prem Krishnamurthy, who also runs the distinguished design firm Project Projects, P! has hosted radically integrated exhibitions that focus on answering larger questions of concept, history and thought and has been recognized in the “Best of 2012″ lists by Artforum, Frieze, and Art in America.

Organizationally, P! develops “cycles” wherein several exhibitions and events are hosted that address the big-picture topic that’s presented – resulting in long-form but variegated investigations. For instance, the first cycle was directed at the idea of “Joy.” 

The current cycle, titled Permutation 0.3x, seeks to dive into the highly contemporary issues of copying. At a stage of technological development where reproduction of images, objects, and processes is easy and fast, there are looming questions about the “original” and the legitimate vs. illegitimate uses of it. Participants in this cycle include visual artists, curators, writers and researchers (amongst others).

Rich Brilliant Willing, the lighting and furniture design studio and manufacturer, was asked to recreate the entire space of P! into a custom-made reading room for Permutation 0.3x. The red floor, long lines of sight, and clean displays draw attention throughout the space and emit an airy studiousness. 

On February 20th, 2013, Superscript, an editorial consultancy specializing in content development, held one of their ADBC events (architecture and design book club) at P! where they discussed Orhan Pamuk’s novel “The Black Book,” and the ways that the book’s setting of Istanbul, its architecture, and weaving narratives construct identity.

The recently ended exhibition, titled “Permutation 03.1: Re-Learning,” concluded with Sarah Schulman, a writer for Village Voice and influential for her work on social issues. Though this exhibit has come to a close, the Permutation 0.3x cycle runs through July, so keep a look out for this Chinatown gallery’s continued experiments in the rearrangement of art, design, and discourse – and the unexpected and thrilling culminations.

Photos by Naho Kubota

Rob Goyanes

Design Miami/ Design Log