DESIGN: LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD
London, 2017: This October, Sotheby’s will present ‘Living in a Material World’, an auction dedicated to exploring how leading designers have employed materials in new and cutting-edge ways. Covering the full spectrum of post-war and contemporary design, the exhibition will be curated by Tony Chambers, Editor-in-Chief of the influential design and lifestyle magazine Wallpaper*. The selection will trace a history of how and why designers have chosen to work with specific materials, from simple and beautifully crafted modern pieces to highly-complex creations using the most technologically advanced tools. The auction will take place in New Bond Street on 17 October 2017, preceded by a public exhibition and series of gallery talks.
Tony Chambers, Editor-in-Chief of Wallpaper* magazine, said: “As our lives become increasingly governed by the digital world, we have subsequently become more appreciative and sensitive to the analogue. We now crave the touch, the feel, even the smell of the material world. This is the perfect time to explore how post-war and contemporary designers have employed and manipulated all manner of materials in elegant and innovative ways.”
Laetitia Contat Desfontaines, Sotheby’s 20th Century Design Specialist & Head of Sale, said: “Our exhibition will consider the use of materials by the designers not only for their aesthetic properties but also for their structural strengths. It is fascinating to see how designers might have been using the same materials at exactly the same period but achieving radically different results. From traditional materials such as wood, stone and marble to concrete, plastics and organic materials, the exhibition will encourage the viewer to look at each object in new ways.”
‘Rocker’ Armchair, 2007 (est. £170,000-200,000)
Laarman’s experimental designs are inspired by emerging technologies, part of a continuous pursuit of translating science into functional yet beautiful objects. In his own words, he sculpts “using Mother Nature’s underlying codes”. Cast in a 3D-printed mould using powdered Belge Noir marble and resin, Laarman’s Rocker is based on the structure of bones – removing unnecessary material and adding strength where required. With his Rocker armchair, Laarman revolutionised the design process, using an algorithm to translate the complexity, proportion and functionality of human bone and tree growth into a chair. Laarman’s designs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in the collections of international museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
‘Extruded Table 3’, 2008 (est. £70,000-100,000)
“Whatotherdesignersseldomimitateishispreoccupation with materials and processes. You have to start with an understanding of the material. Often your innovation is just coming up with a new way to use material.” Milled from a solid seamless piece of marble, this meticulously crafted table from Newson’s Extrusion series is a striking example of design that appears at once light and fluid, graceful and dynamic. An experimental exercise in extreme structure, Newson creates a ribbon- like form from a dense material – an unbroken line with no beginning and no end.
Israeli born, London based industrial designer Arad continuously pushes the boundaries and possibilities of materials. The two works included in the sale exemplify his dedication to finding innovative ways to redefine materials in the world of contemporary design. In the ‘All Night Long’ design, Arad combines the use of Nomex honeycomb paper with layers of resin coated carbon fibre to create a table that is both light and strong in equal measure – easily lifted by two people yet able to support the weight of a car. With his ‘Void’ series chairs, Arad combines vacuum technology with a secret tinting process to create organic forms based on the traditional rocking chair. The result is a stunning genre-changing design that is a meeting of sculpture and design.
‘Keep off the Glass’ Chair, 2004 (est. £10,000–15,000)
Famed for his adventurous take on architecture, Heatherwick created the ‘Keep off the Glass’ series as an experiment to push the boundaries of the delicate material, using a traditional technique normally reserved for vases. Working closely with Murano’s famed master glass-blowers, the chair was assembled using ultra violet adhesive and can support the weight of a human being. Although initially Heatherwick’s studio was aiming to use the process to create a chair, it could be said that a vase inevitably appeared: “Our chair was made out of open-ended bubbles, the back was a perfect vessel for flowers and water, and that unwittingly we had made a vase anyway”.
Cabinet from the ‘Perished’ Collection, 2010 (est. £40,000–60,000)
The provocative and tongue-in cheek designs of Rotterdam-based Studio Job, founded by Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel are redefining applied arts for the contemporary age. Combining 17th century marquetry with 21st century laser cutting technology, each piece on the Perished Cabinet is painstakingly applied to create an extremely graphic and perfectly symmetrical synthesis of past meeting present.