Split Personality

Toomas Toomepuu - Dreamer and Dream, Wood, glass, copper, stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, plywood, paint, silicone, varnish, gold leaf, suede, velvet


At the far end of the object design spectrum are the collectible pieces now a mainstay of galleries and art fairs. These pieces often challenge the function, aesthetics and value of more mainstream design. It can also be polarizing and difficult to understand. Is this stuff actual design or functional art? Having some context can be incredibly helpful in understanding and appreciating work in this genre. We find a great example of this with the Split Personality exhibition guest curated by Alice Stori Liechtenstein at Friedman Benda’s New York City gallery.

The collection of furniture, lighting and accessories show how these pieces can mutate when they incorporate new functions, materials, processes and cultural meanings. At a very high level what is particularly nice about the collection is the contrast of styles that span from readymade to highly engineered.

The title of exhibition refers to the idea of potential newness to be discovered in design by combining seemingly contradictory elements. It’s up to the designer whether the final intent is for harmony or imbalance. Viewed as a whole, Split Personality asks more questions than it does showcase design answers.

Photos and Text: Dave Pinter