Whatever your level of familiarity with Michael Anastassiades’ contemporary design or the Nordic modernist furniture showcased by Galerie Dansk Møbelkunst, you will most definitely agree that their joint exhibition in Paris was a collaboration meant to be.
With 'Stilleben', which translates to 'Still Life', the London-based designer has established a continuous series of vignettes that position his signature lighting in direct relation to his curation of pieces from the gallery. At the centre of the space, his mobile chandelier appears arched above a Kaare Klint mahogany dining table set atop plated spheres, establishing an orbital focus to the staging. Around this pairing, the frame from an Erik Magnussen 'Z-down' lounge chair has been angled sideways and stripped of its leather stretcher, while Anastassiades’ triple cluster of globe lights appears on the floor, conjuring up some sort of illuminated flower.
While Bruno Mathsson’s birch and canvas daybed (c.1936) has been mounted vertically to the wall so that its curved legs resemble a swimming pool ladder, a rug by Anna Thommesen (a preliminary design for Roskilde cathedral, from 1973) slumps down the opposite wall, its blue and green pattern uncannily similar to an aerial plan of a landscaped garden. Anastassiades' 'Beauty Mirror', conversely, can be found on the floor, giving the impression of a gold-plated puddle.
The intention, Anastassiades tells Wallpaper*, was to create a ‘surreal, almost metaphysical setting’, that he alternately describes as ‘liquid environment’. This helps explain his choice of wall colour – a murky green from Farrow & Ball that closely matches the Seine, within view from the gallery, on an average day. For Dansk Møbelkunst’s Marie-Louise Høstbo, the switch from white walls marks one of the designer’s most noticeable interventions.
‘We’re Danish. We don’t have much light so it’s important to keep all the light inside. It’s nice that someone is brave enough to start using a colour. We’re really happy about it,’ she says, noting how they first met at a dinner in Copenhagen roughly three years ago and were immediately complimentary of the other’s work. Sure enough, they proved complementary in practice, too. ‘When you’re dealing with these beautiful master pieces, you have the weight of something really old and established that has a lot of authority,’ Anastassiades says. ‘I think the new and the old work very well.’
Ultimately, Anastassiades’ ‘brave new eyes’, as Høstbo calls them, do not redefine the attributes of such timeless furniture so much as recast them in a wonderfully animated light. In this way, the one-off installation isn’t still at all – the 'Mathsson' table, its legs specially set atop reflective spheres, looks ready to roll right out of the gallery.