Last chance to see: Front’s magic mirrors in Paris

Last chance to see: Front’s magic mirrors in Paris

Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren of Swedish design studio Front present ‘Seven Stories About Mirrors’, a new solo exhibition at Paris’ Galerie Kreo (until 24 July 2021) looking at the history of mirrors in a contemporary context

Galerie Kreo unveils ‘Seven Stories About Mirrors’, a project by Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren of Front featuring seven new mirrored objects exploring the history of mirrors, on view until 24 July 2021. 

For the past three years, the Swedish designers have been asking themselves, ‘What’s in a mirror?’, and this collection is the result of wide research. ‘From the first stone mirror made 8,000 years ago, the history of mirrors has been laced with magic and poetry, luxury and vanity, myth and faith, medieval industrial espionage and modern psychology, craft and technological advances, culture and self-consciousness,’ say the designers. ‘Each of our seven stories about mirrors draws from a key step in the development of mirrors, and their unique craftsmanship.’

The history of mirrors: from stone to metal

The ‘Secret Mirror’, inspired by 15th-century Venetian techniques. The designers explain: ‘When workshops in Venice perfected the technique of making plate glass, craftspeople were moved to the island of Murano to keep the secret of their craft away from foreign spies. The guildsmen were sworn to uphold trade secrets on penalty of death.’ The secret eventually got out: Louis XIV persuaded some artisans to come to Paris and share their knowledge, and in the late 1600s, Gerolamo Barbini contributed to the realisation of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Front worked directly with the Barbini family (still based in Murano) to create this piece

‘Through researching the history of the mirror, we wanted to understand how an object can transform its function, materiality, value and status over time,’ say the designers. The pair started by analysing reflection, mirror design and manufacturing through history, and created seven mirrored objects that respond to these moments in time. Working from a cultural, symbolic, as well as physical perspective, Lagerkvist and Lindgren dissected several centuries of design history and techniques to create their new pieces. 

From water reflections to 13th-century blown glass, from 8,000-year-old obsidian to foundries making bronze mirrors, each piece, they explain ‘is the result of an astute typological and historical analysis of the mirror-object in order to investigate how the value, significance, cultural meaning, and technical aspect of a specific object is constantly evolving with time’.

The ‘Convex’ vase and mirror, inspired by ancient Roman techniques that resulted in a distorted, bright reflection

As well as traditional vertical mirrors, the collection includes the ‘Water Reflection Side Table’, a design evoking the reflecting water surface used since prehistoric times for ceremonies or to mirror and study the sky, and two ‘Mirror Vases’, inspired respectively by ancient Roman glass mirrors and by 13th-century manufacturing techniques involving unrolling a flat sheet of glass to create a mirror.

Other mirrors in the collection include a thick, black obsidian piece that resembles a wall-mounted, oversized piece of jewellery, a bronze mirror inspired by the Chinese mirrors dating back to 2000 BC, and ‘The Secret Mirror’, referencing 15th-century Venetian plate glass techniques. 

 An octagonal mirror hanging on the wall. The mirrored surfaced is made of pink glass, while the mirror also features a golden frame and white cotton tassels at the bottom
The ‘Bronze Mirror’ is inspired by ancient Chinese mirrors made since 2000 BC, originally featuring decorated reverse sides with mythological symbols or personal inscriptions. In ancient China, mirrors were a symbol of wealth and fastened with a ribbon to the owner‘s clothing, explain the designers, who were in turn inspired to create a hand-crafted rope to decorate this mirror

‘“Seven Stories About Mirrors” is about how one can study the evolution of humanity through the prism of the mirror, and how a single object fractures into multiple narratives,’ reads Galerie Kreo’s introduction to the project. ‘From industrial espionage in 16th-century Venice to Chinese metal mirrors, from early craftsmanship prowess to technological achievements, from the metamorphosis of the materiality of an object to the relationship of each one of us to our own image.’ §

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