With a focus on both form and function, Transformed: Uncommon Uses of Materials in Contemporary Design, an exhibition comprising 19 contemporary design objects in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection, provides an illuminating look at what happens when today's designers fuse utilitarian objects with unconventional materials, such as silicone, recycled plastic, fibrated concrete, and even goose feathers. On view April 23 to October 9, 2005, in contemporary design gallery 170 on the Museum's first floor, this exhibition includes pieces by Ingo Maurer, Frank O. Gehry, Tokujin Yoshioka, and Fernando and Humberto Campana, among many others.
Including works by designers from nine countries – including America, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands, England, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy - Transformed: Uncommon Uses of Materials in Contemporary Design presents contemporary design in its global scale. "The objects featured in this exhibition present an array of aesthetic solutions as designers' interest in employing different materials changes and evolves," said Donna Corbin, Associate Curator of European Decorative Arts and organizer of the exhibition. "Their ongoing investigations, some reflections on Mother Nature, others defiant social statements, promise to stimulate the eye, engage the senses, and stir the social conscience."
Among the highlights in the exhibition is Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka's "Honey-Pop" Chair, made of 120 sheets of paper, the same type that has been used for centuries in Asia to make lanterns. The honeycomb construction, which gives it strength, is based on Yoshioka's observation of naturally occurring honeycomb structures and embodies his approach to design. He describes it as "a concept often inspired simply by the desire to use new materials or processes."
Also on view is the "Vermelha" (Red) Chair, made of thick, soft cord piled onto a tubular metal frame like spaghetti. It's by the Brazilian team of Fernando and Humberto Campana, who are known for their use of common materials - some even considered trash – such as garden hose and stuffed animals in their furniture. Soft Urn, by Danish designer Hella Jongerius, is made of silicone and reflects Jongerius' penchant for transforming traditionally hard and rigid items into soft, sometimes even pliable, ones. The selection is also punctuated by wit and humor, as reflected in Jasper Morrison's cork Stool, a reaction to European winemakers' use of plastic instead of traditional corks to seal their bottles. The British designer calls the piece "a giant cork of my own."
About Modern and Contemporary Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Home to one of the country's most important collections of 20th-century design, the Museum presents focused and revelatory installations in Gallery 170 on the first floor. Modern delights in recent years have included the classic metal furniture of Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, functional glassware by Germany's Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Finnish designer Alvar Aalto's molded plywood armchair, innovative Italian foam furniture of the 1970s, Philippe Starck's endearing kitchen utensils, and the first museum exhibition designed by famed interior designer and space planner Florence Knoll Bassett, featuring her own work.
A nonprofit organization of design professionals founded in 1970, Collab supports the acquisition of important examples of modern and contemporary design at the Museum. Each year, Collab sponsors its prestigious Design Excellence Award and a related student competition.