Category: Reviews/Reports

In the Atelier Brancusi

In Brancusi’s studio

Reviews/Reports 17.11.12

A sharp, low building at the north end of the Place Georges Pompidou is home to a reverently preserved example of an intriguing type of interior. The building in question was designed by Renzo Piano to house the unique atelier of  Modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi.

In the words of the Pompidou’s free leaflet, Piano’s reconstuction ‘is not intended to be an ethnological recreation of the layout of the place down to the smallest detail, but to communicate the unity that Brancusi created between his sculptures inside that studio space.’

In the Atelier Brancusi

Apparently Brancusi had amassed a significant number of works within his studio towards the latter end of his career. In that singular space he had them arranged in ‘mobile groups’ – groups of objects in such perfect spatial arrangement that the groups became, to his mind, works in their own right.  He even refused to sell works toward the end of his life, that he might not disrupt the delicate equilibrium which he had created; when works were sold, they were replaced with plaster versions, keeping the spatial balance intact.

In the Atelier Brancusi

In the Atelier Brancusi

As a designer and maker myself, I can relate to the desire to understand a thing which one has made in a spatial context. The desire to put it in a space with other objects, and feel how it pushes and pulls on them.  Indeed, the dust covered groups of objects on our coffee table attest to the difficulty of moving on from a particularly good arrangement of things.

One of the objects on our coffee table at present is a bowl designed by Max Lamb, a contemporary designer who has more than a passing similarity with Brancusi in his approach to forming material. Lamb’s approach to working up forms often seems to involve an engagement in dialogue with material, a give and take in which the material’s response to the sculptor’s strokes is central to the form a piece takes. In the words of the leaflet again, Brancusi ‘considered the material to have a life of its own, a uniqueness that he had to seek out and understand in order to achieve unity with the form, believing that the sculpture was already contained within the material chosen and his task was to reveal it.’

In the Atelier Brancusi

Back in Brancusi’s Atelier, it is difficult not to buy in to his assertion that there is a right way to arrange these objects. There is an exquisite sense within the space that things are as they should be. Despite the absolute stasis of the works, hermetically sealed within Piano’s glass walled studio rooms, there is an exquisite sense of tension and slackness, between the objects, the groups, and the space between them. This is a feeling that was missing when, in June this year, Elizabeth and I saw his Bird in Space on its own at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. The Atelier Brancusi is beauty in arrangement, and a powerful argument for an understanding of space that goes far beyond the functional.

In the Atelier Brancusi

In the Atelier Brancusi

Cups at Saint Sulpice Ceramics Fair

Coffee & Ceramics

Reviews/Reports 05.08.12

A little bit of serendipitous wandering in Paris last month found me visiting the church of St. Sulpice on the same day as a ceramic fair had overtaken the adjoining square.  An overwhelming amount of  work from potters all over France was on show, and at the centre of the show, to my delight, was an ingenious impromptu cafe.  The premise of this construction was that each potter had contributed a number of vessels, sufficient in size to hold coffee or tea, which the passer-by (me) could choose  to drink their drink from. I duly obliged, ordering a coffee and selecting a small white slip-cast cup. Here lay the ingeniousness of the cafe. The inevitable consequence of drinking from this unique cup, was that I formed a sort of bond with it, and, upon finishing my coffee, I had to buy it from the potter who had made it, and take it with me.

Ceramic Fair Cafe at Saint Sulpice

Cups at Saint Sulpice Ceramics Fair

Cups at Saint Sulpice Ceramics Fair

My cup at Saint Sulpice Ceramics Fair

The Ceramiste who made my little cup is Aline Lafollie, who makes beautiful, minimal work out of her studio in Arras.

Her website:

Creative Multiversities

Reviews/Reports 03.08.12

Neri Oxman Object Detail

Currently on show at the Pompidou Center, Paris, is a remarkable exhibition curated by Valérie Guillaume intriguingly titled Creative Multiversities.  The exhibition catalogue unpacks the Multiversity part of the title as a portmanteau word, formed from the prefix ‘multi’ and the noun ‘diversity’, which ‘expresses the notion of creative universes that are both multiple and in transformation’.
So far, so murky, one might say, but as it happens this is a suitably complex label for a show which features designers, architects and researchers whose practice finds them reaching into the primordial soup of emerging technology and drawing out creative possibilities with unimaginably expansive potential.

Neri Oxman Mythical Beast Object

One of the key pieces in the show is a suite of objects created by a team from MIT, lead by Neri Oxman and Craig Carter. Their objects have been defined in three-dimensions using generative software, and are inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings.

Neri Oxman Mythical Beast Object

They incorporate the prospective purpose of being prototypes for protective garments or accessories. This potential purpose though, in the context of the show, is entirely secondary to the manner in which they are developed and made. The objects are realised using multi-material 3d printing technology developed byObjet, allowing the specification of different material properties within different areas of a solid object.

u-Cube by EZCT Architecture

Another intriguing concept, by innovative architecture practice EZCT Architecture & Design Research, is based on the development of a system of polystyrene cubes with CNC cut voids which can be filled with fibre reinforced concrete to create architectural structures.

Francois Brument Laser Sintered Bowls

François Brument’s project for the show uses laser sintering technology to investigate the way in which recycling polyamide powder affects the form of objects.  His series of vases are made using polyamide powders recycled up to 6 times in the creation of organically inspired bowl shapes.

Andre Kudless_Matsys Chrysalis III

Creative Multiversities offers a fascinating glimpse into the not-too-distant future of making. The processing capabilities of computers are now being harnessed to realise the visualisation and modelling of objects with levels of complexity previously found only in the natural world. In conjunction with rapid prototyping technologies such as multi-material 3D printing and laser sintering, forms are being realised which a few short years ago were only imaginable.  Not only this, but the future of how objects and buildings are developed and defined is changing rapidly, to the point where buildings are now being largely defined using algorithms drawn from the natural world, rather than conventional dimensional parameters.

Modelling and manufacturing technologies are developing at an exponential rate and it is near-impossible to predict what the complexion of the manufacturing industry will be in a very few years time.  If this show is to be taken as evidence, though, it seems more and more likely that the industry is on the cusp of a paradigmatic change.

3rd May 2012 – 6th August 2012

Centre Pompidou
Place Georges Pompidou
75004 Paris

Review written for Maynard Design Consultancy under the title ‘The Future of Making’.


Reviews/Reports 10.05.10

Chuffed to be participating in this show, curated by Matt Blomeley for Objectspace.

From the press release:

“Quotidian (def: everyday, commonplace) invites 11 New Zealand designers to talk about examples of everyday design, uncovering how design ideas are recycled, leveraged, refined and can in turn inspire new design. Using the exhibition as a forum for designers to think globally while advancing local design discourse, each participant will showcase an everyday design object alongside an object of their own design and write about their understandings – and discoveries – brought about through considering the vices and virtues of “everyday” objects.”

MOAD Christmas Sale

Reviews/Reports 08.12.09

Here comes this year’s Ministry of Art and Design Christmas sale!

I’ll be there with a couple of new gift size pieces and so will a whole bunch of Auckland’s best designers.

Saturday 12th December 11am-2pm

Trinity Methodist Church Hall

400 New North Rd


Jamie Mclellan at Objectspace

Reviews/Reports 24.11.09

Twig Coatstand by Jamie Mclellan, image credit Flash Studios.

I recently finished working with Matt Blomeley to set up an exhibition for Jamie Mclellan in the Vault at Objectspace gallery.  The show features some of his work for Tom Dixon as well as recent work for Fletcher Systems and Simon James’ new label Resident.

From The Media Release:

Designer Jamie McLellan says “over the years I have learned to live with and celebrate my inner engineer. More and more I am finding the beauty of an object lies in its engineering, how it’s put together. I find both a purity in exposing this and at the same time a higher a level of detail being possible without the need for anything superflous.”

More here: Offshore: Jamie Mclellan

What: Offshore: Jamie McLellan
Where: Objectspace, 8 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland.
When: Exhibition runs until 19 December 2009.
Gallery hours: Tues – Sat, 10am – 5pm. Free admission.

Of Its Time

Reviews/Reports 04.09.09

Of Its Time Flyer

My work is influenced by form, landscape, Elizabeth’s library, the shape of the city, growth, movement, the poetry of materials, conversation and sometimes, the economy!  My work for “Of Its Time” is driven by the necessity of using resources at hand: materials gleaned from my day job and the skills of my friends and family.  Thanks Amazon and Emma!

In From The Garden

Reviews/Reports 02.08.09

I must admit I was immediately interested in this exhibition by the title, given my fascination for the human predilection for moving plants about.  Getting off work early and running through the rain along Ponsonby Road to Objectspace on the last day of the exhibition was utterly worth it though.

With ‘garden’ in mind I went straight for Renee Bevan’s brooches, the most literally ‘garden’ inspired works in the show.  Layers of wood built up to form an abstracted three dimensional rose combined with kitschy stuck on rose imagery form an interesting re-representation of cultivated nature.

Near by were  the meticulous wooden creations of Ben Pearce.  His miniature villages and abodes  hinting at the lives of unseen occupants were beguiling, and his evident craftsmanship in creating tin cans from timber was impressive.

The work of Blue Black was certainly the most difficult to reconcile with any of my preconceptions of craft or design, and as such was some of the most interesting work in the show.  On first inspection I could only describe the brightly glazed ceramic forms hanging from their makeshift steel gantry as grotesque, but was surprised to find the more time I gave them the more they transformed into intriguing individual characters.  Maybe there is some deep life lesson here!

Certainly the most deliberate work in the show was ‘In Harm’s Way?’ by Victoria McIntosh.  Her tableau of carefully selected found objects got straight to the point, provoking a discussion of our origins and development as people.  I found the cupcake tin brooches included very satisfying as objects and interesting in terms of the semiotic potential of the materials used.