Two boxes of cards, one white and one green, with symbols embossed on the front
(Image credit: TBC)

The American artist Tauba Auerbach has long been fascinated with opposites, mathematics and symbolic language. Indeed, her most comprehensive study of these disciplines is best seen in her 50/50 series.

An open green box, with playing cards scattered around. The cards have symbols and patterns rather than the traditional designs

(Image credit: TBC)

See more of Auerbach's cards

For the December 2008 entertainment issue of Wallpaper*, we thought Auerbach would be just the person to create something new for us to play with as winter’s gloom gathered over our London HQ. The New York and San Francisco-based artist delivered on her commission, and then some. Blending nostalgia with creative chutzpah, One Deck of Cards was an intriguing reinterpretation of playing cards in which the royal family morphed into Platonic Solids while suits were replaced by mathematical symbols and multi-coloured polygons. Suffice to say we barely noticed winter’s passage.

One year on, and just in time for Christmas, Auerbach has synthesised her ideas and created for commercial release two limited edition decks of 250 each. The Functions Deck is a lineal descendant of the Wallpaper* prototype, exploring with cerebral verve the idea of opposites while dominating the cards with a black and white colour palette. The Shapes Deck imposes four abstract geometric shapes as suits (Jokers are represented by scribbles and amoebas), this time using a palette of red and black on white.

Betraying her artistic background, Auerbach has left no detail to chance, leaving her creative imprint even on the plastic-coated card stock. Meanwhile, each deck is packaged in a linen and cardboard case entwined by a grosgrain ribbon.

Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.