From the category archives:


Gallery Seomi from Korea dared the challenging market and introduced as the first Korean gallery at Design Miami/Basel 09 works of four well-established Korean artists and designers. The response was unexpectedly favorable and most of the works were sold, some pieces being purchased by Brad Pitt.


As exhibition designer it was my job to select and clearly present the art works, which were different in kind, material and size, and to make them visually immediately accessible. Three of four artists worked with ceramic and those pieces I decided to show against a ‘Yves Klein-Blue’, while the larger stone/wood furniture from Choi Byung-Hoon stood out against a light gray background, which continued as carpet  and delineated a walking path through the booth. 


With help of color and a continues shelf I created a horizontal cut along the booth walls that allowed the delicate ceramics from Jang Jin and Kwon Dae-Sup to float above the large objects from Choi Byung-Hoon, and to be visually independent.  Lee Hun-Chung’s furniture made from a beautiful combination of ceramic and cement, again, was displayed on the same blue carpet, which emphasized the intensive coloration and glazing of his ceramic objects.

Gallery Seomi’s choice of contemporary works, based in Korean traditional materials and shapes stood out with its serene quality, at a fair, which was dominated by hip Dutch contemporary or the all-too-well-known 20th century French, Danish and Italian classic furniture. 


Choi Byung-Hoon:Recognized as a forerunner of Korean art furniture, Choi’s works are wood compositions made of simple elliptic spheres and oval shapes on the plinth of natural stone or on a horizontal wood pedestal. Choi makes a delicate effort to harmonize the environment with the place where works are situated as well as with the working process, and expresses in his works the sense of unity and intimacy with nature.’ 


Jang Jin:For the past 30 years, Jang Jin opened up new doors in the field of Ceramic Arts, her works have anal most perfectly clean natural free touch. Colors in Jang Jin’s ceramics are vital and plentiful. Clear blue autumn sky, tender greenness of the bud, and the soft milky colors of the magnolia are the significant colors that are simply pure and natural.  Traditional Korean beauty shines in Jang Jin’s ceramic works in the most genuine form.’


Kwon Dae-Sup:Kwon Dae-Sup‘s notable works include the series of Full-Moon Jars in white porcelain, through which he pronounces the essential traits of simplicity as well as a hint of diffidence in its character.  An epitome of Korean White Porcelain dating back to the Chosen Dynasty, Full-Moon Jars with their large volume and generous shape illustrate not only the cultural aspects emphasizing the full-circle of life and humbleness with the intentional lack of embellishments, but also reveals the beauty that lies within the sphere imperfect, which Kwon wholly translates into works of his own.’


Lee Hun-Chung:Think an uncouth chunk of concrete serving as a table, with one of its legs steeped in ceramics. You’ll walk away with your head turned 180 dgrees from the conventional idea of what a piece of furniture should be (..). You’ll be surprised to see the light in concrete, arguably the most impersonal artificial entity, when it intermingles with the warmth of ceramics.’

Quotes are from Gallery Seomi.

Please refer to the gallery for inquiries and prices.

Seomi&Tuus Co.
97-19 Chungdam-dong Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-100, Korea, Tel +82 2 511 7305

Regarding exhibition design please contact me at Fifth Season.

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Carsten Höller: Double Mushrooms | The Double Club

by Claudia Dias on June 18, 2009

Carsten Höller is into doubles or/and halves: At Art 40 Basel my favorite Berlin gallery Esther Schipper brought new works titled “Doppel Pilze” from Carsten Höller, which are part of the artist’s current solo exhibition “Bird Mushroom Mathematics” in Berlin. At the same time Höller’s art project “The Double Club“, ‘a cross-pollination without any attempt of fusion’ (with Fondazione Prada) is located in an old Victorian warehouse in London and is in its last month. The venue is ‘A Bar, Restaurant and Dance Club where the Congo Meets the West | A Bar, Restaurant and Dance Club where the West Meets the Congo’, combining contemporary music, lifestyle, arts and design (closes July 11, 2009)!


‘These are Doppelpilze (Double mushrooms) – halved and newly put together moulds of different kinds of mushrooms, always combined with one half of a toadstool. Some of the mushrooms are edible, others not.’ The “design” of the Double mushrooms is based on a mathematical formula of doubling and halving. The idea of introducing them as a new specie by putting them on view in steel vitrines, sold quickly at the fair.

The Double Club consists of three spaces: Bar, Restaurant and Dance Club. Each space is divided into equally sized Western and Congolese parts on a decorative and functional level, generating an inspiring perspective on double identity as well as on cultural coexistence. The different sections have been conceived and designed to represent the most challenging elements of both cultures, encompassing music, food and visual aesthetics.’


‘In the central courtyard bar area, there are two Western portions and two Congolese: a large tile garden with Portuguese azulejos (depicting a flying city originally drawn by Russian architect Georgi Krutikow in 1928) and a copper bar with a pink neon sign saying Two Horses Riders Club; another bar with coloured plastic chairs, parasols, and wall paintings of beer advertisements, where Congolese beer can be enjoyed and a reproduction of Cheri Samba’s J’aime les Couleurs enlarged to a surface of 7 x 4 m.’ 


‘In the restaurant Congolese and Western food is served on Congolese tablecloths or on Kram and Weisshaar’s acclaimed Breeding Tables, each of which is unique. The Double Club is the only place in London where you can choose between a Liboke na mbisi (fresh fish wrapped and stewed in large leaves) and a range of extraordinary Western dishes, all made of special ingredients combined in an original yet simple way. The restaurant also includes outstanding art works from the West and from Congo (the stage dress of the guitarist Luambo Makiadi, a.k.a. Franco, a painting by Mosengwo Kejwamfi, a.k.a. Moke the Painter, Kinshasa, a Cheri Samba painting).’


‘In the dance club, the DJ plays alternately Congolese and Western music on a circular dance floor which slowly revolves at about one turn per hour. When the DJ is in the Western part of the room, ‘Western’ music is played, while as coming into the Congolese part it will switch into Congolese Rumba, Wenge or Ndombolo. Furthermore, once a week the Club will present the best of contemporary Western and Congolese music live, showcasing both local and international bands.’ 

Carsten Höller, born in Brussels, is a German artist who lives and works in Stockholm. Most recently, he realised the The Double Club (with Fondazione Prada) in the London borough of Islington and earlier on Test Site at the Tate Modern in London, as well as the Revolving Hotel Room at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Quotes from Esther Schipper Gallery and Fondazione Prada

Doppelpilzvitrinen, 2009
Mushroom replicas in different sizes (polyurethane, acrylic paint), vitrine (steel frame, glass)

Please refer to the gallery for inquiries and prices.
Esther Schipper
Linienstr.85, 10119 Berlin Germany, Tel. +49 30 2839 0139

The Double Club, 2008 (November 21 2008 – July 11, 2009)
The Double Club
7 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ, UK , Tel +44 207 837 2222


It escapes my mind why these extraordinary chandeliers of An End of Modernity (2005), The Last Scattering Surface (2006), and Island Universe (2008) have to be shown in white box environments. It’s hard enough to imagine Time-Space, and when I look into the starry sky, the Universe seems practically black…. I think the Met got it right back in 1965! 


‘From our earthbound vantage point, the history of the universe is traced through a series of concentric shells, with the earliest epochs seen at the greatest distances. An End of Modernity inverts this perspective, and it invites us to view the history of the cosmos as though we stand outside of it. However, if current astronomical inferences are correct, the universe will expand forever, at an ever-accelerating rate. Thus, whenever we stand to regard An End to Modernity, we are implicitly enveloped by the future.’


‘The Big Bang is an extraordinarily difficult subject for visual representation. … In McElheny’s sketch inspired by the spectacular Lobmeyr chandeliers that hang in the Metropolitan Opera House, a central sphere supports starburst of metal rods, which in turn supports clusters of glass pieces and lamps. This seemed a perfect depiction of the popular conception of the Big Bang, a tremendous explosion that flings fragments of matter in all directions from a central point.’ 


‘But the Big Bang is not an explosion of material into space; it is the origin of space and time itself, initiating an expansion that occurs everywhere and has no center. How could any static sculpture, no matter how intricate, depict that? (..) … the solution emerged: retain the basic structure of the sketch, but change the interpretation of that structure by using a spacial dimension to represent time. The center of the sculpture would then become the primordial cosmos and the outer edge the present day, and the passage from one to he other would trace the 14-billion-year history of the expanding universe. (…) In the finished work, each of the 230 radiating rods emerges in a random direction with a randomly selected length and terminates in a cluster of hand-formed glass disks and blown-glass globes, representing a cluster of galaxies, or in a single lamp representing a quasar (the brightest thing in the universe).’
Text by David H. Weinberg (cosmologist)

An End of Modernity (2005) at Andrea Rosen gallery
The Last Scattering Surface (2006) at Donald Young gallery
Island Universe (2008) at White Cube gallery


Jörg Ebers: Stairscapes in Berlin 2005-2009

by Claudia Dias on June 8, 2009

What’s new about staircases? Nothing. Except enjoying them as part of urban life, which is somewhat rare.


Berlin architect Jörg Ebers specializes in puzzle-like small townhouses; in Berlin Mitte he erected one on a lot so tiny it wasn’t zoned for this type of construction. He had to convince the buildings department to use a new building typology: a special code created for suburban two-apartment houses that freed him from implementing a second fire-escape staircase so that enough living-area would remain to make the site viable.  
The staircases, essential for his built landscapes, connect sequences of interlocking spaces of different heights and privacy, and are certainly memorable. I experienced each of the staircases more as sculptures, either I was walking through one or was admiring them as such from the outside. Only then I realized that a staircase can actually have an own body.


Textures, colors and materials of the diagonal connectors are borrowed from the local 1950-60′s structures, a time of experimentation with the NEW, and Ebers applies these in a fresh way using linoleum, oiled or corrugated oak-wood, bright colors and “raw” texturized concrete to emphasize the concept of his Raumplan. In one case the stairs open into a new storage landscape…. and for sure the experiment is ongoing. 

We planned from the small into the large: the rooms are imagined as large furniture, the stack of furniture make the “Raumplan”. Quoted from Jörg Ebers

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nendo: Blown-Fabric, 2009

by Claudia Dias on June 5, 2009

Interestingly enough, whenever there seems to emerge a new high-tech material, it arrives ‘camouflaged’ in a vintage design. I  feel this way again with nando’s blown-fabric designs. Discovering “Smash”, a specialized long-fiber non-woven polyester, a light and rip-proof product of  Japanese advanced synthetic-fiber technology, can be blown into unique shapes, nando applies this technique to create Japanese-style chochin paper-lanterns. While admiring the outcome of the experiment, I wish for a less retro application, … but maybe that’s what we generally call ‘progress’. To keep it vintage: “One small step for men, one giant step for mankind.”


‘Smash’ … can be manipulated into different forms through hot-press- forming technology. Because it is thermo-plastic, (…) but glows beautifully when light passes through it, we wanted to create lighting fixtures in the style of vernacular Japanese chochin paper lanterns with it. (…)  We realized that Smash’s particular properties would allow us to shape it like blown glass into a seamless one-piece lantern. It is impossible to completely control the process, so each fixture takes a unique form as heat is added and pressurized air is blown into it. As in glass-blowing, we can intervene during the production of each piece, resulting in a collection of objects whose infinitely varied imperfections are reminiscent of the infinite formal mutations of viruses and bacteria in response to environmental changes…’      


‘The fixtures are weighted at the base by the light source.(..) Smash changes form if the interior temperature rises above 80 degrees centigrade, so we mounted low-heat LED bulbs in machined aluminium sockets that double as a heat-sink to maintain a low interior temperature.”
Text quoted from nendo              

nendo created blown-fabric for ‘Tokyo Fiber ’09 Senseware’ presented in April at the Milan 09 Triennial


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ICFF 09 Marathon in New York run by Yours Truly

by Claudia Dias on May 22, 2009

This year’s ICFF was less ‘endless’ then usual. Still, running this New York Marathon of commercial designs these handful of high-lights ( and a handful more ) re-energized me and helped me break through the wall and reach after 4 hours the finishing line.


1. Tokyo Dresser designed by Shinichi Utsumi, 2005 
Designed  for crowded Tokyo apartments, this vanity – as what I would use it – turns into a side table once the mirror is closed. Using a single steel pipe as axis, each ‘drawer’ can freely open in two directions into this surprising fan-shape!

2. Frou Frou Sunbrella designed by Davy Grosemans, 2008
‘The design is a tribute to the classic raffia parasol on exotic beaches. When closing your eyes, you can even hear a sea breeze whistling in the fringes…’
It probably keeps you smiling even when you have to close Frou Frou: it might reminding you of a special palm tree.

3. Single Slice Toaster designed by Naoto Fukasawa, 2009
The more then ideal toaster for “single-slice” consumers (hello New York!) and people for who each single slice has to be equally fresh and warm.

 4. Anti-Theft Lunch Bags designed by the.
Finally the solution! 10 Anti-Theft Lunch Bags in one brown bag.
‘Tired of having your food stolen by sticky-fingered coworkers or roommates? Bullies taking your kid’s lunch? Well, worry no more . . . Anti-Theft Lunch Bags are sandwich bags that have green splotches printed on both sides, making your freshly prepared lunch look spoiled. Don’t suffer the injustice of having your sandwich stolen again! Protect your lunch with Anti-Theft Lunch Bags.’
Made of food-safe reusable and recyclable LDPE; h 6.875″ x w 6.625″ (sandwich size)

5. Shopping bag “Amigo” 
Still today used by Japanese fishingmen, these nets out of polypropylene still make the most ergonomic shopping bags I know.  A single one weighs 1 ounce, carries up to 86 lbs., and once folded is the size of an i-phone.  Besides,  they come in gorgeous colors. Can’t beat it! 
Only one problem: you have to know Japanese to order them on-line.

6. SIWA furoshiki designed by Naoto Fukasawa, 2008
SIWA translates from japanese into “wrinkeled paper”. This soft and flexible and extremely strong and water-resistant paper is made from wood pulp and polyolefin using a washi-suki paper manufacturing method. (Siwa was commissioned by the Japanese paper company Onao).

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nendo: Cabbage Chair, 2007-2008

by Claudia Dias on May 22, 2009

nendo has been electrifying Japan – and the rest of us – with a surprising number of designs and cross-discipline inventions for the past few years. Currently nendo’s most ‘exposed’ design is this pleated paper chair, which is hand crafted from folded paper rolls, what in Japan is called ‘waste product’.

‘With Cabbage Chair, the roll’s original shape and function is obscured and its inherent material property gives rise to a unique conceptual object. Without processing or assistance, the work elicits an organic simplicity and carries messages of re-invention, human ingenuity, and delicate beauty.’
‘Since the production process is so simple, we thought that eventually, the chair could be shipped as one compact roll for the user to cut open and peel back at home. The chair has no internal structure. It is not finished, and it is assembled without nails or screws’.

The Cabbage Chair was initially shown in the groundbreaking exhibition “XXIst Century Man,” staged and directed by Mr. Miyake at 21_21 Design Site in Tokyo in June 2008. It also entered the permanent collection of MoMA, MAD (Museum of Arts and Design, NY) and other museums.

With Ghost Stories, nendo showed a constellation of forty Cabbage Chairs in a dreamlike interior landscape of his own design earlier this year at Friedman Benda Gallery.

Please refer to the gallery for inquiries and prices.
Friedman Benda Gallery

515 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001, Tel. 212.239.8700
Many thanks to
nendo and Jennifer Olshin at Friedman Benda Gallery for photographs and material.