For design, like art, January is an important month. This is when top galleries and platforms around the world mount major shows, ringing in the new year on an optimistic note—and with unrestrained creativity.
This month’s offerings are no different. Dive into this selection of six design exhibitions—spanning Milan, Italy to Portland, Ore.—that push the limits of experimentation and self-expression.
Olga Engel and Sho Ota at Mia Karlova Galerie
In its ”Poetic Design” exhibition (through February 10), Amsterdam’s Mia Karlova Galerie contrasts the sensuality of Latvian talent Olga Engel and the minimalism of Netherlands-based Japanese designer Sho Ota.
Engel’s ”Charlotte” furniture collection is an ode to the harmonious lines of French modernist Charlotte Perriand (who was closely associated with Le Corbusier), while Ota’s “Splint” series of wood-block chairs explores how certain universal forms, in different compositions, can better facilitate modularity and personalization.
John Shea at HB381
New York, United States
HB381 is the kunsthalle-style offshoot of the more established New York collectible design gallery Hostler Burrows. Since its inception last spring, HB381 has focused on showcasing interdisciplinary talents who attempt to free sculpture from limited definitions of art and design.
American talent John Shea demonstrates this philosophy with the transcendent ceramic sculptures in his “standard, abstract” solo show—on view from January 13 to February 25. His abstract sculptures are defined by intersections, where smooth geometric planes are interrupted by rough spheres. Shea’s shapes take their cues from microscopic silica crystals and the palette from Japanese painter Sanzo Wada‘s 1932 book, A Dictionary of Color Combinations.
Anne Libby and Philip Seibel at Magenta Plains
New York, United States
In New York’s Lower East Side from January 13 to February 25, Magenta Plains is showcasing new wall sculptures by Los Angeles-based Anne Libby that riff on domestic window blinds. Cast in polished aluminum, the intriguing works play with light and deflected reflection as they cascade against stark white backgrounds.
Berlin-based artist Philip Seibel’s “Gehäuse” exhibition runs concurrently at the gallery. Like Libby, Seibel challenges the perception of readily available construction materials and consumer products to create sculptural objects that serve as contemporary tombs, shrines, and ornate storage boxes. The works demonstrate his ability to satirize the typology of everyday items through meticulous craft techniques. He also distorts the pieces with engravings of agrarian scenes from the Middle Ages.
Jake Clark at Albertz Benda
New York, United States
Poking fun at the commercial iconography of his adopted city of New York, Australian ceramicist Jake Clark debuts his latest psycho-geographic collection “Canal Street” at Albertz Benda gallery. Ceramic vessels, key chains, mugs, and plates are emblazoned with the likeness of the signs and logos he’s observed around town as a self-proclaimed outsider.
This collection is a play on and elevation of the souvenirs that tourists can find on the very street where the gallery is located. The logos of recognizable haunts like Balthazar restaurant are joined by depictions of subway cars and ciphers.
Makers at Caselli 11-12
New Milanese platform Caselli 11-12 inaugurates its “Makers” series of shows with an exhibition dedicated to experimentation. Bringing together a whopping 29 avant-garde talents from across the globe, the showcase—on view through January 15—demonstrates how so many of today’s designers have taken it upon themselves to develop bespoke creative processes. Many are challenging the constraints of the design landscape by forging distinctly resourceful practices.
While Belgian up-and-comer Arnaud Eubelen creates furniture out of discarded building materials he finds around construction sites, New York-based Katy Brett sets out to evoke the quality of broken porcelain objects in the surface of solid wood tables and chairs. Many of the works on view are as thought-provoking as they are visually enticing.
Vince Skelly and Lynne Works Turner at Adams and Ollman
Back on the West Coast of the U.S., Portland gallery Adams and Ollman is closing out an exhibition featuring new sculptural works by woodworking savant Vince Skelly. Skelly has taken on the design world with his intuitive chainsaw and traditional hand-carved tables and chairs that evoke the ecology of the woods he sources from natural disaster sites.
Among the primordial wood pieces, minimalist painter Lynne Woods Turner has placed wall art whose lines and nuanced colorations suggest what isn’t there. A similar pensiveness carries through from her works to Skelly’s organic forms, creating a tension between these two oeuvres.
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