New York’s design gallery Chamber has quickly established itself as a landmark in the city’s design landscape not only through the impressive roster of designers it represents, but also in the innovative way it programs its space. Each year, it enlists a guest curator to come up with a yearlong Collection (last year, it was Studio Job), interspersed with capsule collections that have shorter runs.
To curate its new collection, Chamber turned to Andrew Zuckerman, a photographer and filmmaker based in New York, who (as a self-described design neophyte) was able to approach the subject with a fresh eye. ‘I’ve looked at a lot of design over time where you needed historical references to understand it,’ he explains. ‘I tried to vacuum all of that stuff out of this show.’
The resulting collection, ‘Human | Nature,’ which will roll out in three separate chapters, brings together objects that each engage the relationship between humans and the natural world. ‘All the pieces included in the show represent people who are making things in an effort to process where they are in the world and what their relationship to nature is,’ explains Zuckerman. ‘If we are standing on the beach looking at the ocean, we all have the same response—that this world is so much vaster than ourselves. A lot of artists and designers are processing that question in their work.’
Throughout the exhibit, Zuckerman conveys that message in different ways. At the center of the MOS-designed space, Alexandra Kehayoglou’s rug, Pastizal, conjures up a vision of forested lake country. Adjacent to it, a newly commissioned gray sofa by KiBiSi + Versus provides a foil to the rug. (‘It feels like a stone wall at the edge of a field,’ Zuckerman points out.) Ika Künzel’s ‘Lasso’ saddle, and three of Brian Persico’s handmade bows— Scythian, Mongolian, and Longbow—with Fort Standard’s ‘Implements for Fire’ suggest the ways in which us humans might inhabit this imagined landscape.
For Zuckerman, the concept of nature is more than just a sublime expanse, as the inclusion of NASA’s lunar rake would seem to indicate. To emphasize that point, he commissioned Azuma Makoto to make a paludarium, which takes pride of place in the gallery’s front window. ‘It’s this extraordinary closed ecosystem—an amazing contrast between nature and technology,’ says Zuckerman.