Context and collaborations in European design at the end of the 20th century
“It is important to realize that whatever we do or design has iconographic references, it comes from somewhere; any form is always metaphorical, never totally metaphysical; it is never a ‘destiny’ but always a fact with some kind of historical reference. To put an object on a base means to monumentalize it, to make everyone aware it exists.”
forewords by COSMA
My earliest memory of Ettore Sottsass is of an album about Italian design, that I bought when I was in high school, completely mesmerised by the colourful ‘Carlton’ bookcase on the cover. After founding Eclecticó Studio, which had from the very beginning a focus on postmodern design, his pieces were always around me & the more I looked for his designs, the more I found, sometimes with a magical flawless fluidity. Then came the books, his wise words, the admiration for the subtle eroticism present in his œuvre, his photography, soon after came gallerists, clients and collectors with whom to share the admiration for more-Ettore.
His spirit was always a guiding light and equally a constant motivation towards the discovery of his universe, the universe of his collaborators and also that of the designers he inspired. All these people, influencing each other on multiple levels, marked the history of design, prompting an unprecedented, flamboyant & poetical-radical grand finale of the 20’s century.
In the last few years, I've noticed a growing interest in postmodern design, both from the connaisseurs, ranging from small gallerists to big collectors, as well as coming from important cultural institutions or furthermore, among a new aesthetics-enthusiastic generation across Asia.
What I personally feel is missing is an accurate, fun and witty storytelling, that on one hand manages to reconnect certain historical contexts and on the other hand, conveys with a certain humorous approach the ‘je-m'en-fichiste’ spirit of those days, unfortunately much opposed to the multiply layered conflictual times we are living.
There is without a doubt, at least for me personally, a strong connection between the current zeitgeist and the nostalgic desire of reconnection and exploration of that colourful, bold, bombastic & liberating spirit that marked the 80’s.
Sometimes we do certain things without exactly realising what we’re doing, sometimes things take shape quietly without an immediate intention and then again, things crystallise and start to perfectly align at the right moment.
IT IS TIME TO
Showcase around 100 rarely seen pieces of European postmodern design (rare pieces and prototypes, pieces by creative duos, pieces designed by architects, often as a strategy to experiment outside the dogmas of architecture).
Build context once highlighting the diversity of the postmodern legacy both in geographical and aesthetic terms.
From the geographical perspective, we’ll be exploring the cross-pollination of influences starting from the historical axis Milano-Paris and expanding in concentric circles, considering the evolution of various designers who started producing their designs in Italy, which oftenly jump-started their career. In this regard, Philippe Starck worked and produced in Italy, and then in Spain, before founding XO in France; two of the most representative Czech designers, Borek Sipek and Bohuslav Horak worked as young designers in Italy as well, where new markets opened for them, sometimes resulting in solid collaborations, as in the case of Sipek and Driade. We’ll also tap into what happened to the north, where Scandinavian countries had to reinvent themselves after being the poster boy of mid-century modern.
Since fluidity and the blending of aesthetic codes are part of the postmodern DNA, the exhibition will present a multifaceted view, following 4 aesthetic directions: the brightly coloured, playful pieces of the Memphis Group, the monochromatic, minimalist aesthetic, brilliantly explored in the works of Martin Szekely or Paolo Pallucco, the biomimetism of the pieces created by Bohuslav Horak or Christophe Pillet and what we’re calling Nouveau Baroque aesthetic codes, to be found in the pieces created by Borek Sipek or those for Galerie Neotu. These are proof that postmodernism doesn’t speak in one voice, but mostly in layers and vivid juxtapositions.
We believe it’s the right moment to shed a new light on prototypes which we consider important artefacts in the history of design, since they map some of the boldest ideas and daring experiments that bent the cultural and social norms of their times. We believe it’s the right moment to focus on prolific collaborations, be it creative duos or fertile cooperation between designers and producers with different backgrounds, resulting in a greater representation of varied multicultural identities.
Archetypes of Desire will take place in Paris, between 28th of March — 2nd of April, overlapping with events which attract the core of our target audience, such as PAD Paris and Art Paris.
Cultural workers, curators
General public interested in the history of design
Specialised public in China (young collectors, gallerists)
Poetic Rebellions catalogue
The catalogue will gather documented imagery of the exhibited pieces alongside texts written by relevant art and design historians, curators and designers, bringing a new perspective on the context of postmodern design. It will explain in depth the rise of postmodernism and its expansion throughout Europe and bring forth the informal history of the two decades, adding to the mix a personal touch by way of anecdotes collected from key characters of the design scene. We will be collaborating with Terranova, an experienced publishing house in Barcelona.
Suggested guest writers and collaborators
Marco Sammicheli — curator of design, fashion, crafts sector at Triennale Milano and Superintendent of Museo del Design Italiano
Patrizia di Constanzo — design historian
Bohuslav Horak — designer
Gerard Mialet — Founder & CEO at XO
Constance Rubini — design historian and curator at MADD Bordeaux
Enrico Baleri — designer and co-founder of Baleri Italia
Cleto Munari — industrialist, collector, patron
Nathalie du Pasquier — designer
Barbara Radice — design critic, writer and editor
Philippe Thomé — design critic, writer
Christoph Radl — designer
Tom Vack — design and architectural photographer
Florine Barnet — attaché de conservation at Ubik, Agence de Philippe Starck
Eclecticó Studio was established in 2013 by Stefan Cosma and has since cultivated an interest towards the overlapping areas between art and design, with a penchant for sculptural objects, limited small series and unique pieces of furniture.
The gallery specialised from the very early days in postmodern design, assembling over the years a very broad collection of rare pieces, becoming after its 10 years of existence a solid worldwide reference and a dynamic promoter of postmodern design. Eclecticó Studio is now floating somewhere between Bucharest, Paris and Ibiza.
In terms of exhibitions, in the past two years we focused on the work of 80’s radical designer duo Paolo Pallucco and Mireille Rivier. The retrospective of their work held in Paris in March 2022 was surprisingly very well received by the general public and the specialised press, proving an accurate rewriting of some lesser known episodes of design history was needed.
On the occasion of Eclecticó’s 10th anniversary we are staging up a major exposition on European postmodern design that traces down the collaborations and mix of influences involved in developing a diverse design scene at the end of the 20th century. Moreover, we will publish a comprehensive catalogue that will bring new perspectives on the design history of the last two decades of the century.
press clippings from the last show
We have assembled a pan european experienced team to mirror the idea of paneuropean design.