Functionality and art’s use value bring art and design intricately linked together. The domestic and our relationship with art in lived environments implies that we surround ourselves with objects which inspire us and in turn give away our interests and taste. Without a doubt, art defines our identity. Also, in the most mundane daily activities like eating, seating or reading we can find joy, drama, glimpses of the surreal or, why not, peculiar challenges through the objects themselves that we use.
Stemming from a design background, SEEDS London is a new exhibition space and store heavily led by a conceptual framework that distinguishes between two spaces. The curated space, SEE, where invited designers and artists have an open remit to explore a coherent installation of their work. DS, on the other hand, is the design collection store bringing together individual objects from different designers and studios. Both concepts seamlessly flow in space.
Housed in a former milk factory, then a butcher’s and finally a flower shop, SEEDS retains the traces of the building’s previous life. The distressed vintage tiles on walls and floors; the markings after decades of drillings, plastering, peeling paper and an iron-cast cooker and milk-processor alone are worth a visit. In its sympathy to the building, SEEDS speaks of a poetic vision, unafraid of showing rawness, imperfections, prototypes and processes.
Three works by the designer Pietro Russo form the exhibition A Certain Afterglow. A sculptural ode to light. In his use of brushed brass, glass and mirrors, reflections multiply. I never thought it possible but here the drama and theatrics of Italian mannerism meet clean and sleek design. Bravo!
There are clear references to nature through the titles as well as the works’ form. Daffodils, these oversize flower-like lamps are mirrored inside in the style of diamonds’ cut. I found them hypnotic. They are arresting in space, almost imposing their presence, vain, demanding to be looked at and yet, delicate as early blossoms. Ginko, on the other hand, an elongated piece which takes its name from an ancient tree serves as a shelving unit. It contrasts with Daffodils and Float for its demure shape, without giving in the lyrical flow of the spiraling shelves.
The theme on light continues loosely throughout the DS rooms. The (Not So) Gloriole Lamps by the Lebanese designer Marc Dibeh are sculptural and beautifully positioned in a room where materials are competing to show luster and rust at the same time. Also by Dibeh is the Don’t tell mum mirror that you will find if you go to the loo… Ask nicely and they’ll let you. Inspired by a childhood memory when he broke his mother’s mirror.
The Chroma Collection by Lex Pott is fun and a true example of contemporary modernist furniture. Light reflections and colour theory acquire a new dimension. Moving in space, one realizes the different sides of tables and shelve units change colours. Talk about a challenge for interior designers!
Somewhere between the readily available design items and the limited editions and unique works, SEEDS has a distinctive proposition that I am looking forward to keep revisiting.