Formafantasma's experimental object series react subtly to the fascination with the "exotic" that is reflected in the Geymüllerschlössel's architecture. Indian and Arabian stylistic quotations in the façade ornamentation and the villa's interior tell of that period's predilection for the cultures of the Orient. "In a globalized world where the concept of the 'exotic' is losing its meaning, we invite the audience to take a closer look and, in questing after inspiration for the design of the present and the future, to turn their gazes both inward and back towards the past," say the designers.
The central work The Stranger Within, Nodus Rug (2013) is a rug designed specifically for the Geymüllerschlössel's Blue Salon in collaboration with the Italian producer Nodus. This piece, derived from the texture and colouration of the surrounding interior spaces, is reminiscent of an oversized mask and functions as a mystical metaphor of the foreign. Stood upright in the middle of the Salon, the rug acts like a totem around which the other exhibits distribute themselves through the villa's adjoining rooms. This textile work was made as a reference to the Jewish family of textile manufacturer Isidor Mautner, which owned the villa from 1888 to 1938 and was then forced to flee the country after the National Socialists took power.
The combination of this rug with objects made of inflated or hardened pig's bladders, such as the Bladder Chandelier (2013), evokes associations with folkloric Carnival traditions. Mechanisms of colonial power structures and of present – day migration policy are addressed by the series of objects entitled Moulding Tradition (2009). Starting from Arabian – African influences on European ceramics production, Studio Formafantasma makes reference to present – day migration flows from Africa to islands such as Lampedusa, and it reflects on themes such as national identity and racism. In reference to a traditional Sicilian genre of ceramics known as teste di moro, buoy – shaped vessels bear portraits of refugees.
The work series Botanica (2011) and Craftica (2012), which underwent further development for this MAK exhibition, deal with innovative material developments and their application. At the Geymüllerschlössel, these works developed from animal or plant waste materials – find their counterparts in a bouquet of artificial flowers made entirely of butterfly wings from c. 1840. "Just as the Biedermeier era's exploration of nature was accompanied by the Industrial Revolution, the present era of digital modernity is accompanied by the search for alternative raw materials and production techniques as well as a new sensuousness inherent in the products themselves. Formafantasma views itself as a materials laboratory of a new industrial era" says Thomas Geisler, exhibition curator and collection curator of the MAK Design Collection.
'The Stranger within' also includes the prototypes for the drinking set Alphabet, developed in collaboration with Viennese glassware manufacturer J. & L. Lobmeyr. This set is a special edition of J. & L. Lobmeyr to celebrate the MAK's 150 – year jubilee.
Notes, References and External Links
1. The MAK – Museum of Applied Arts is an arts and crafts museum located at Stubenring 5 in Vienna's 1st district Innere Stadt. Besides its traditional orientation towards arts and crafts and design, the museum especially focuses on architecture and contemporary art. 2. The Geymüllerschlössel in Pötzleinsdorf, a neighborhood in Vienna’s suburban outskirts, was put up after 1808 as a “summer building” for the Viennese merchant and banker Johann Jakob Geymüller (1760 – 1834). Today, it is one of the few places in Austria offering an authentically original look at the diversity of Biedermeier decorative art. – The MAK DESIGN SALON invites internationally renowned designers to deal with this on – of – a – kind cultural legacy in order to set up aesthetic and thematic links to the present and open up new perspectives.
CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin DEVELOPMENT Francesco Zorzi, Federico Floriani, Morgen Ruben Jansen Op De Haar PRODUCTION Lobmeyr, Nodus Rug, Formafantasma CURATOR Thomas Geisler PHOTO CREDITS MAK Museum Vienna
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