My picks at Design Miami/ Basel 2013
The works I chose to highlight from the Fair reflect my interest in process-driven works. Although I work in the industrial sector, I have always had an affinity with those designers who are not primarily following an industrial model employed by whichever producer they might be working with, but rather, creating studio work which ultimately serves as a kind of laboratory for industry, feeding them new materials, new technologies, new methodologies, and new typologies, as well as challenging established notions of 'beauty', 'perfection', and 'quality'. More than 'functional solutions' to 'current problems', these designers contribute Discovery, which often leads to applications as yet undreamed of.
Commissioned by Plart, an Italian foundation dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in art produced in 'plastics', the Botanica collection of vessels, using natural polymers such as rubber, shellac, bois durci, and other vegetal and animal byproducts, not only explores centuries-old manufacturing possibilities lost to mass production, but transforms archaic forms into a contemporary vernacular.
Peter is certainly one of the most intelligent and pioneering designers I have worked with; he is fiercely process-driven, and, to me, better characterized as 'sculptor' than 'designer'. Peter's remarkable and innovative Wooden Vases, first introduced by him during the London Design Festival 2011 in a lovely installation titled Methods of Imitation, were created using a single small piece of wood as a mould. Peter describes the process: "A piece of wood is pasted with hot wax creating an impression of the wood. The wood is then moved to a new position and pasted with hot wax again, blending it with the previous piece. This is repeated so as to build up the form intuitively, creating an object that is both moulded, yet unique. The wax form is then cast into bronze, the resulting object—the vase—becoming an amalgam of moments."
Created in Murano, the extraordinary glass vessels Ms. Mishima designs demand that centuries-old skill sets be reinvigorated and applied with fresh eyes to an entirely new visual vocabulary—the result of a multi-cultural cross-pollination. Working only in clear glass, her interventions manipulate light.
These are the most exciting new ceramics I have seen to date. As flamboyant as the Art Nouveau works by Theodore Deck, Delphin Massier, Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat, and Tiffany, these humbly-named 'ashtrays' make my heart beat faster—I LOVE great ceramics! The Saatchi Gallery expressed it best, referring to his ceramic work as "an assault on materials".
"Deformations", like the gorgeous, prescient 'distortion' photographs created by the photographer known as Weegee (Arthur Felig) in the 1960's, the porcelain 'B-Service' created by Hella Jongerius for Royal Tichelaar Makkum, which consists of plates and bowls fired at too high a temperature so that they self-distort, and the sensational vessels made by George Ohr, which were absolutely masterly crafted and perfectly formed before he would then 'punch' them and deface them, propose new ideas of beauty. This is of course the genius of Gaetano Pesce, who now addresses the 'perfection' of Veronese's vase, which adorns the railing in his painting 'The Annunciation', 1578—a vase so perfect in its form and proportion that a young Venini glassworks in 1921 produced it in 3D and as a result launched their first major contribution to the design world. Pesce's 'Sveronese' vase makes us take a look at this icon through a fun-house mirror, or through its reflection in a wavy Venetian canal; the once-molten glass becomes liquid again, dancing in the light.
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