European Design Since 1985
June 5 - August 29, 2010
BY JoAnn Greco
This sweeping survey — 155 designers, 240 pieces — begins dramatically enough with an entry room of several large pieces that give proof to the power of CAD in today' design. Mathias Bengtsson's "Slice Chair" stacks undulating layers of laser-cut aluminum sheets to form a gleaming thing of beauty. Ron Arad's "This Mortal Coil" similarly uses steel to shape a bookshelf that resembles a nautilus.
Upstairs, though, things get more interesting — the works seem less about "art" and more about process, an approach that's more craft-like, that while still bringing art to useful objects doesn't strive to turn them into monumental think pieces.
Rooms here are divided into several movements, several of which overlap in the chronology and intent: Decorative, Geometric Minimalism, Biomorphic, Neo-Pop, and Conceptual. Highlights include Yoichi Ohira's glass vases, a seamless blend of Japanese colors and motifs with the Italian glassmaking tradition (Decorative), familiar chairs from Artemide and Vitra, and commonplace products like Tynant's cobalt water bottles and Ikea's gazillon-selling long-spouted watering can (Biomorphic).
The exhibit ends where it begins, with conceptual pieces (on a smaller scale) such as Philippe Starck's lamp with a gold-plated pistol serving as its base. Starck is of course well-represented throughout the exhibit, but the other familiar names here, from relative newcomers like Marcel Wanders to iconic groups like Memphis and Droog, highlight that in the relatively short span of years showcased European design has enjoyed an incredibly fertile period.
For more information please visit: The High Museum