Anyone familiar with industrial designer Ionna Vautrin’s curvilinear lamps and vases might not be surprised to discover drawings that incorporate similar shapes. But it doesn’t take long to realise the risqué nature of her debut art show; all of the figures in the series are in some pursuit of, well, let’s just say 'pleasure'.
Titled 'Striptease', the series consists of 100 identical square frames featuring as many inventive, suggestive and arousing activities. Vautrin has not shied away from kitsch; see the Darth Vader pointing his light saber at Princess Leia’s nether regions, or else an 18th-century-inspired couple satisfying their appetites on something other than cake. She winks at our digital narcissism with two people taking selfies while intimately engaged, while several couples demonstrate positions that wouldn’t be out of place in the Kama Sutra. She has addressed a spectrum of fetishes: props, acrobatics, food and furry costumes. Most notably, she’s all-inclusive, featuring same-sex couples, small groups, large groups and even singletons.
Yet Vautrin deliberately stopped short of anything that borders on pornographic; genitalia is strategically excluded. This, she says, keeps the series flirty – she uses the French word ‘coquin’ – rather than explicit. And owing to her clean and calligraphic technique, they titillate as much for their design as their subject matter.
It’s impossible, however, to view the series without wondering to what degree they are personal. Vautrin reveals to Wallpaper* that the idea emerged during a long distance relationship when she started sketching instead of sending photos. The guy is no longer in the picture but she came away creatively stimulated. ‘I tell myself this is better,' she quips.
Indeed, when Cendrine de Susbielle saw early examples, the gallery owner urged Vautrin to produce enough to show. ‘They are universal; they speak a language without words,’ says de Susbielle, whose Espace Modem provides the ideal neutral space for the collection.
The designer spent the past month-and-a-half drawing ceaselessly (each piece is unique), which she says was intense but provided ‘an opportunity to breathe’ from her usual work. She says she is open to the idea of the series being parlayed into something else, to-be-determined. For now, though, she sums-up the exercise with a fitting double entendre: ‘The more I do, the more I want to do.’