Following 2009’s Design Real, curated by Konstantin Gricic, Serpentine Galleries is hosting its second major design exhibition. Titled design is a state of mind, the exhibition emphasizes London-based, Italian-born designer Martino Gamper’s curatorial vision with a selection of major design works brought together by the renowned designer. Gamper, reminding viewers of the emotional charge of design works are capable of beyond their mere functionality and surface presentation, aims to underline the multiplicity of perspectives when appreciating design.
Gamper’s design is a state of mind, concurring with Haim Steinbach’s once again the world is flat at Serpentine Galleries presents an alternative approach to a present yet invisible part of everyday life: shelving. Similar to Steinbach, Gamper’s selection of shelves are populated with various objects displayed on them, as a reflection on the variability and interpretation that design encourages, and on the personal and emotional attributes that are allowed to spring forth from them.
Gamper’s curatorial approach diverges from Steinbach’s, however, as the Italian designer brings together a larger group of influential designers’ works, orchestrating a selective panorama from across the history of design. A wide range of milestone shelf designs by important designers are displayed here, alongside the designers’ personal belongings, which offers a unique perspective into both material and personal concerns at play in the design process. In equal measure, the presentation gives a strangely compelling human element to the design process itself. In one piece, an Anna Castelli Ferrieri-designed bookcase is displayed with objects borrowed from Jurgen Bey, or in another, turnaround shelves by Gamper himself are matched with Ernst Gamperl’s personal belongings. Dating back to 1930s, some shelves portray different movements and trends in the history of industrial design, spotlighting works and possessions by major names such Gaetano Pesce, Ettore Sottass and mass production-focused companies such as Ikea.
Highlighting the utility of these shelf constructions on display, selections of personal objects borrowed from a group of designers including Ron Arad, Maki Suzuki and Daniel Eatock showcases the personal act of gathering and displaying objects, in concert with the personalities of the designers themselves. By presenting a Dexion brand, highly industrial metal construction, with Ron Arad’s personal objects, or a Campo Graffi-designed bookcase with Betham Laura Wood-chosen objects, Gamper is commenting on the interdisciplinary aspect of design while proving and providing the sentimental charge of the objects, and their display that would normally be taken up by their owners.
Martino Gamper: design is a state of mind is on view at Serpentine Galleries through May 18th, 2014.
— O.C. Yerebakan