Much has been said about the number of art galleries mushrooming around Los Angeles, but none have zoned in on the design arena quite as well as its newest addition, Gallery All. Located within the iconic iron-and-brick Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles, Gallery All is dedicated to showcasing contemporary design pieces from around the world, and brings a new, conceptual tone to the city's artistic offerings. It's a mission statement that's not taken lightly either; the gallery kicks things off with a memorable exhibition of new works from Naihan Li and Zhoujie Zhang.
For its first show, Gallery All has commissioned a series of new, limited-edition works from the pair of rising Chinese stars. Its co-founders Qingyun Ma and Yu Wang were keen to make a statement about the new era of design in China. 'It marks a shift from the "Made in China; mindset,"' explains gallery director, Xiao Lu, who previously worked with Johnson Trading Gallery in New York. 'Naihan Li and Zhoujie Zhang are both in their early 30s and represent the top post 1980-generation Chinese designers, yet galleries outside China have not exhibited their works. This first show marks their first appearance in the US.'
Yu set the young artists the task of creating works that had a futuristic quality. 'We set the young artists the task of creating works that had a futuristic quality. After China's Jade Rabbit [aerospace] explorer successfully landed on the moon, I really wanted to curate a show about exploring space by Chinese designers,' he recalled. 'Naihan Li has a special interest in designing complicated folding design pieces that can easily travel to anywhere, conceptually very similar to the Jade Rabbit explorer. So my brief to her was to make new pieces for the crates series.'
Zhoujie's works explore how to represent a complicated object in the simplest 2D geometry, then reverse-engineers the solution to re-define the question: what is a perfect 3D object, like a chair or a table. 'Conceptually it is very close to what the Jade Rabbit is trying to do - looking for the unknown to better define the known,' says Lu.
The gallery's minimal white space is the perfect backdrop for the exclusive collections. Li's furniture pieces dramatically transform from simple wooden boxes into nostalgia-tinged objects, like a desk, bar, bookcase and foosball table, while Zhang's fragmented constructions see traditional furniture forms built out of thin shards of brass that have been neatly welded together.
Gallery All not only seeks to commission artists to produce new works, or new additions from existing series of works, it also aims to open a sister gallery in Beijing, with an e-commerce site later in the year. Its focus will not just be contained to Chinese artists and designers either. There are projects with several American designers, including architects Aranda/Lasch, already in the works. Explains Lu: 'By establishing a branch in Beijing, we hope to build relationship with Chinese collectors and bring western designs into China.'