What Would Have Been

Joris Laarman


In any other normal year, I’d be escaping NYC for South Florida for one final dose of warm weather the first week of each December. Also on the agenda would be covering DesignMiami and a few of the offsite design related events coinciding with Art Basel. But that’s not the case for 2020. Offering some consolation is an exhibition at Friedman Benda in NYC that sums up the state of design happenings since COVID took over earlier in the year.

What Would Have Been is a collection of design objects from over 30 studios either shown for a short time before the pandemic or destined for events that were cancelled throughout the year. The work in the show ranges from unearthed classics to new experimentations in materials and processes from contemporary designers.

The show explores a coming together of different voices and offers a look a wide range of aesthetic and function possibilities. Placed almost side by side are the 1960s shelving unit Commode column by Ettore Sottsass and the large Space Exchanger screen by Joris Laarman made of 3D printed bronze to amplify the contrasts of shape, materials and influence of technology. This is a similar sentiment to how the tent is curated annually at DesignMiami. There was no shortage of sad times to get through in 2020. However, taking in What Would Have Been offered a brief distraction and reminder of designers carrying on towards the possibility of better times that lie ahead.

Photos and Text: Dave Pinter