Designers and Artisans

Robert Stadler, 'Irregular Bomb sofa'

‘Irregular Bomb Sofa’ (2009) by Robert Stadler.

In last week’s post we talked about how craft is increasingly being linked with innovation as well as tradition. It is a theme we are seeing more and more frequently.  ADCollections at Quai d’Orsay, which we covered a few weeks ago was based on the theme of the exhibiting contemporary designers’ close collaborations with traditional French craftsmen.  So we were intrigued with the exhibition currently showing at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris entitled ‘L’Usage de Form’. It is conceived as a dynamic dialogue between artisans, designers, artists, architects and their tools – the tools and man’s ingenuity and relation to them (‘outils’) being the focal point of the exhibition.  With scenography by the designer Robert Stadler (founder of RADI Designers), the ‘outils’ are presented as a fundamental point of connection between man and the world and his way to interact with his environment. They enable him to create works that move the raw materials from a state of nature to a state of culture.


Large coppersmith's stake and oak anvil belonging to Nathaneal Le Berre

‘Atelier’ section; see Nathaneal Le Berre’s coppersmith’s stake and oak anvil in the foreground.


The exhibition crosses historical periods, starting with basic wooden craft instruments (Atelier section)  and culminating in 3-D design technology, by way of, for example, Eames’s ingenious use of plywood and Sottsass’s work with electric typewriters and glass. Stadler distinguishes clearly between two complementary entities: ‘homo faber’ who ‘constructs implements for fashioning matter’; and ‘homo ludens’ who ‘playfully misappropriates the tools of production and the implements of knowledge created by ‘homo faber’ to find new uses and possibilities for them’ so giving rise to culture. Of course, we know that these entities can also co-exist in one artist.  What is interesting is that tools are here explored as a subject in their own right. They are given a dynamic identity.

Nathaneal Le Berre's 'Infini' sculptural light in copper (2013). jpeg

‘Infini’ sculptural light (2013) in copper by Nathaneal Le Berre.


'Understand what you love #2' by Robert Stadler, 'L'Usage des Formes', Palais de Tokyo

‘Understand what you love #2’ by Robert Stadler (2015). Ash wood.


Leg splint in glued, moulded and laminated wood (1942) by Charles Eames

Leg Splint (1944) in glued, laminated and moulded wood by Charles Eames. This revolutionary technique with wood opened up a myriad of design possibilities.


Portable typewriter Valentine, injection moulded plastic (ABS, metal and rubber (1969) by Ettore SottsassValentine portable typewriter in injection moulded plastic, metal and rubber (1969) by Ettore Sottsass.


'Xiangzheng' (1999-2000), Blown glass, moulded glass, Ettore Sottsass. L'Usage des Formes, palais de Tokyo, paris

‘Xiangzheng’ (1999-2000), blown glass and moulded glass by Ettore Sottsass. (Centre International de Recherche sur le Verre et les Arts Plastiques, Marseille.


Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, 'Subdivided Column' 2010, L'Usage des Formes' expo, Palais de Tokyo.‘Subdivided Column’ (2010), exploration of the generative and constructive potential of digital tools for architecture, Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger.


Installation in extruded plastic using a programmed industrial robot (2015) by Gramazio & Kohler.Installation in extruded plastic using a programmed industrial robot (2015) by Gramazio & Kohler.

For us, the matrix of the exhibition is the spectacular installation (above) by Gramazio & Kohler. Nestled within this meandering structure are a range of tools borrowed from the creators taking part in the exhibition., some simple and even primitive (see Nathaneal Le Berre’s wooden mallet within the structure), others more complex. It is a magnificent homage to the process of creation.

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Auction news – Marc Newson’s ‘Lockheed Lounger’ sold on Tuesday night at Phillips in London for a record-breaking £2,434,500. A prototype of the lounger was sold by Phillips in 2010 for £1.4m. Read Dezeen on the sale.



David Wiseman at R & Company

R & Company are showing David Wiseman’s second solo exhibition, from11 May to 25 June 2015. Entitled ‘Wilderness and Ornaments’, Wiseman will present new designs and never-seen-before architectural elements. Should be amazing!



A spectacular and thoughtful collection and well worth a visit. This is a wonderful exhibition providing a wide panorama of the specific styles, techniques and taste of each period, with over 600 pieces (dating from the Renaissance to the present day) from the museums reserve collection.
9 April – 15 November 2015.


Damsels in Design

A great event in NYC on 12th May with Damsels in Design – Meet leading designers working in interior design, museums and fashion. Click here for details.


The exhibition DESIGN POWER! is currently showing at 11 rue de Cambrai, 75019 in Paris. Created in 2009 ‘Le Lieu du Design’ has supported over 900 innovative design projects which have been adopted by businesses and industry. This retrospective exhibition presents around 100 of those projects, showing their progress from concept to production.  (8 April – 11 July 2015).



The top 200 art collectors

2015. (Part 1)

Artnet’s list (part 1) of the top 200 art collectors worldwide makes fascinating reading. 


We’ll leave you this week with an image of this beautiful and ethereal sculptural ‘Ella’ chair (2015) by Jacopo Foggini for EDRA. Made in polycarbonates, the form is exactly that of Saarinen’s tulip armchair . Foggini has explored a contemporary narrative of this very recognizable Modernist form in the Ella chair. While Saarinen was a minimalist and machinist, Foggini’s chair is creating a more crafted statement. We were recently in the restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay where the chairs are also by Foggini (check out our Instagram image)

Wishing you all a great weekend!

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