_I_n May, seven Dutch artists exhibit at the Friedman Benda Gallery in the exhibition An Accelerated Culture, curated by Libby Sellers and Brent Dzekciorius. The exhibition, which brings together a selection of the most progressive contemporary designers from the so-called ‘Generation X’, is an investigation into any shared ideologies and beliefs that emerge from such a disparate cohort. As Sellers states, “while any characterization of a generation will be filled with disclaimers, these practitioners went on to challenge the status quo by questioning everything, the design industry included, in order to redefine what a design practice could encompass and the territories where design can tread.” Using the generational grouping as a way into the varied views and expressions, An Accelerated Culture, highlights how the major cultural, economic and societal shifts that occurred during the decades before and after the turn of the millennium influenced and informed design practice today.
The title is a reference to Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, which sought to identify the collective zeitgeist of the post Baby Boomer generation. Though in a complete departure from the ennui demonstrated by Coupland’s twenty-somethings or the apathetic, slacker stereotypes espoused by film director Richard Linklater, the designers in An Accelerated Culture are defined by their engagement, openness, curiosity, and active expression. Through key examples and representations from more than twenty designers and design studios from eight (predominantly European) countries, the exhibition demonstrates the full breadth of this generation with an in-depth survey of design rarely seen outside of a museum context.
“While this generation was encouraged to explore autonomy, they were not necessarily free. Presented with a cacophony of choice, caught between their analogue youth and an increasingly digitalized future, facing the omnipotence of globalisation and a guarded industry suffering from a surplus of products, designers and companies, the options could have been stultifying. Rather than succumb, they developed entrepreneurial, independent and multidimensional methods to forge their own paths,” Sellers states.
An Accelerated Culture includes seminal works from practices established at the turn of the millennium, such as: Aldo Bakker, Maarten Baas, Tord Boontje, Joris Laarman, Bertjan Pot, Studio Wieki Somers, and Studio Job. Other artists included are Michael Anastassiades, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Nacho Carbonell, Paul Cocksedge, matali Crasset, Martino Gamper, Konstantin Grcic, Thomas Heatherwick, Max Lamb, Julia Lohmann, nendo, Raw Edges, and Jerszy Seymour.
As part of NYCxDESIGN, there will be a public tour of Accelerated Future on May 10. Please RSVP@friedmanbenda.com .
About Maarten Baas
A graduate of the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven, Maarten Baas launched himself onto the design scene with his “Smoke Chair,” created by singeing a second-hand piece of furniture with a blowtorch. This critically acclaimed pieced gained the designer international recognition as it was further developed into a hugely successful collection titled “Where There’s Smoke.” This first series jumpstarted Baas’ career in the design industry. With each succeeding collection, Baas pushes the boundaries of functional sculpture to its limit, transcending the borders of art and design.
About Aldo Bakker
Born in the Netherlands in 1971 to Dutch designers Gija Bakker and Emmy Van Leersum, Aldo Bakker grew up in an environment infused with a strong aesthetic sensibility. Deciding against traditional education and instead following his own path, he was first trained as a silversmith working on commission. Bakker set up his own studio in 1994, later moving into furniture and product design. Bakker is interested in organic forms and movements that defies time, zeitgeist, functionality, and purposes. Those who see Aldo’s design for the first time are often drawn to the form or the materiality before they wonder what their purpose is.
About Tord Boontje
Tord Boontje is known for his expression of romanticism in contemporary design. Some of his designs are whimsical and light-hearted; at the same time they can connect with strong emotions. “I’m interested in creating elements for everyday life that are exciting and uplifting to live with” says Boontje. With a strong interest in storytelling, nature, decoration, materials and technology, his work has an experimental approach. The results can vary from the ornate to the minimal, from the handcrafted to made-by-robots.Tord Boontje is originally from the Netherlands and his education at the Eindhoven Design Academy and the Royal College of Art in London set the foundations for Studio Tord Boontje.
Read more on TordBoontje.com
About Joris Laarman
Joris Laarman was born in Borculo, Netherlands. He graduated Cum Laude from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2003. Laarman first received international recognition for his “Heatwave radiator” produced by the Dutch design brand Droog and later manufactured by Jaga Climate Systems. In 2004, Laarman together with his partner Anita Star, founded Joris Laarman Lab in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The lab collaborates with craftsmen, scientists and engineers and the possibilities of emerging technologies as CNC systems, 3D printing, robotics or simulation software. Laarman’s designs are in the permanent collections and exhibitions in such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum, London ; Centre Pompidou, Paris. He has contributed to articles and seminars for Domus Magazine and has lectured at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam and the Design Academy Eindhoven.
About Bertjan Pot
Bertjan Pot is a designer, probably best known for his Random Light (1999). The light started as a material research, which is basically the starting point of each product created by Bertjan Pot. The outcome is usually an interior product showing a fascination for techniques, structures, patterns and colors. Most experiments start quite impulsively by a certain curiosity for how things would function or how something would look. From there Pot takes on challenges with manufacturers to explore possibilities and push the boundaries a bit. The reward for each challenge is a new one.
About Studio Job
Studio Job was founded in 1998 by Job Smeets in the renaissance spirit, combining traditional and modern techniques to produce once-in-a-lifetime objects. At once highly specific and yet entirely universal, personally expressive and yet experimental, Studio Job has crafted a body of work that draws upon classical, popular and contemporary design and highly visual and sculptural art. The work Studio Job creates is heraldic and regal even in it’s imagery. As sleek as the finished work can be, it is also instinctual and almost primal.
Read more on Studio Job’s website.
About Studio Wieki Somers
Wieki Somers and Dylan van den Berg studied at Design Academy Eindhoven in the late ’90s. In 2003, they established Studio Wieki Somers, which is focussed on providing an enlightened reading of the everyday environment. The studio’s oeuvre distinguishes itself by a sensitivity for materials, technological ingenuity, and fantasy. The designers work for a great variety of international manufacturers, museums, and galleries, and have established an intensive relationship with Galerie Kreo in Paris. They have received numerous awards and their works are part of major museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
About the Curators
About Brent Dzekciorius
Brent Dzekciorius is the founder and director of Dzek, a London-based design production company that develops architectural materials with contemporary designers. The company launched in 2014 with their large aggregate terrazzo, ‘Marmoreal’, developed in collaboration with the British designer Max Lamb. The project went on to earn a number of design awards. For this year’s Salone del Mobile, Dzek will debut ExCinere, a new volcanic ash tile collection with Formafantasma. Prior to Dzek, Brent worked extensively in the commercial gallery world in New York and London. He worked at Johnson Trading Gallery and Moss before initiating a new design program for Phillips de Pury. As worldwide director of design retail operations, Brent collaborated with many of the world’s top design studios to develop special projects, exhibitions, and editions for sale through the platform. Brent continues to work with many of those same designers today.
About Libby Sellers
Libby Sellers is a design curator, writer and consultant. After nearly a decade at the Design Museum London, Libby established one of the UK’s leading commercial galleries which launched many new careers and developed a broader understanding of the narrative power of critical and conceptual design. Since closing the space in 2015, Libby has continued to support the development of design through her focus on writing, lectures, small patrons’ circles editions and freelance curation – the first of which was an exhibition on behalf of the Serpentine Galleries during Milan’s annual Furniture Fair. Libby was nominated for the 2008 Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Fund for cultural entrepreneurs, and in 2014 she was honored by the Women of the Year awards as a Woman of Achievement in the Arts. Her most recent book, Women Design, was published in 2018.