A Paris exhibition highlights fresh perspectives among France's design scene
Martial Marquet and Lionel Dinis Salazar and Jonathan Omar of Döppel Studio endeavoured to showcase something alternative for their curated exhibition of luminous objects by 16 young designers during Paris Design Week. Titled Fantasmagorie and held in Galerie des Ateliers de Paris from 5-14 September 2019, the conceptual show contrasted with the pristine unveilings typically seen at Maison & Objet and the Paris showrooms.
Displayed on cheap, creased black plastic sheeting, the rawness of the presentation emphasized the experimental side of the small edition objects. At the opening, an artificial fog added to the darkly lit atmosphere. ‘Paris Design Week is often quite commercial, like Maison & Objet, and we wanted to bring a more experimental feeling that we know from Milan Design Week or Dutch Design Week,’ Marquet says.
He continued: ‘We invited designers that have broader influences and more varied sensibilities than what one used to see in French design. For instance, Léa Mestres studied in Eindhoven while the Hyères-based Superpoly is represented by Etage Projects in Copenhagen.’
The designers were either residents of the Ateliers de Paris – which offers studio spaces to recent graduates – or had established studios elsewhere in the city or abroad. Inviting them to reflect upon the link between light and materials, the non-commercial exhibition featured objects that culminated from studio research, including one-off pieces made especially for the event and others that were being shown for the first time.
Emerging French designers today are less focused on trends
‘The designers that we chose all have different conceptual visions,’ Dinis Salazar says. ‘Emerging French designers today are less focused on trends and are trying to become known through developing a personal, intuitive and passionate approach.’
The starting point for the exhibition was Jean-Baptiste Durand's luminous piece, Brume, which saw mist emanating from a vase-like glass object, lit from above. Other pieces drew inspiration from visual arts, such as Mestres' tall, pink sculptural lamp from her Craving for Crépis series. One stand-out in particular was Turning Caustics 1 A by Tom Formont and Roman Weil of Units, inspired by music festivals. A horizontal, transparent cylinder covered with coloured film and filled with water had light projecting the water's movement; as the piece rotated, amplifiers beneath generated acoustic sounds.
Materials were used in surprising ways to engage with light. Adam Ruiz juxtaposed marble and other elements to create Bleu de Chauffe, whose integrated blowtorch diffused degradations of light, from orange to purple and blue. Flavien Delbergue's Gradient Blue was made by positioning a PVC tube behind a blue sheet of polycarbonate to create a rippling sensation of light. Claire Lavabre similarly used industrial elements to create a sculptural assemblage, La Stanley. Meanwhile, Jenna Kaës' Ce que dit la Bouche d’Ombre resulted from illuminating a circle of stained glass to create nebulous, moon-like effects.
Marquet and Döppel Studio also included their own pieces that question the link between light and nature. Döppel Studio's piece, La Pinède, illuminated a piece of pine resin to highlight its reddish qualities while Marquet created Dirty Connections, a hybridised lamp and plant pot that was suspended from a wooden structure.
‘It's rare in Paris that designers propose exhibitions about design – it's usually either cultural institutions, manufacturers or galleries,’ Marquet says. ‘It's interesting to propose the viewpoint of designers on contemporary creation by our peers.’
Döppel Studio will be featured in our forthcoming November-December issue, Frame 131.