Collage days: curator Matylda Krzykowski’s eye for pastiche and design

 New York gallery chamber.
Recently opened at New York gallery chamber, ‘Just What Is It’ is the first in a four-part series of installations curated by Matylda Krzykowski
(Image credit: Matylda Krzykowski)

Upon entering the peculiar playpen of design currently on view at Chamber in New York, the urge to learn the exhibition's theme is inevitable. With 'Just What Is It' – the show's tongue-in-cheek title – the answer is a little more complex; the jumble is an artwork of its own, a conceptual collage conceived by Switzerland-based curator Matylda Krzykowski.

Krzykowski follows in the footsteps of Studio Job and Andrew Zuckerman for the third iteration of the exhibition series at the boutique/gallery. Taking her inspiration directly from Richard Hamilton’s collage Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?, Krzykowski reinterprets the British artist’s concept in a 3D compilation of specially comissioned and existing works.

Ancient Drawing of a Very Mysterious Forceniert Nochmals.

(Image credit: Rafal Dominik)

'Ancient Drawing of a Very Mysterious Forceniert Nochmals' by Rafal Dominik

‘Richard Hamilton thrived on ambivalence, playfulness and observation, and without comparison, I thrive on the same,’ says Krzykowski. Contrasting forms, like Studio Silo’s surreal Chicken sculpture and Studio Swine’s boulder-shaped ‘Metallic Geology’ cupboard, she appraises the side of design void of consumerism. The curator explains: 'Once something is successful, the industry mass-produces it to a level that nothing is left from the initial idea.'

The fringes of the 'photomontage' play between silhouettes in steel squiggles by Polish sculptor Rafal-Dominik, and organic curved shelves by Robert Stadler. These stand in opposition to the abstract geometry of a trio of specially comissioned pieces – Florian Ziller’s dynamic foldable mirror, Martino Gamper’s rubbish bins and Deborah Bowmann industrial room dividers, all in metallic or reflective finishes.

Elsewhere Jochen Holz's blown glass neons and Os and Oos' graphic lighting straddle the realms of art and functional design. Mirka Laura's Still Life series tackles Krzykowski's tumult, questioning the very notion of what a product is.

Blue accents guide visitors around the space.

(Image credit: Mirka Laura)

Still life by Mirka Laura

Krzykowski steers clear of the one-note palette of mass-produced domestic design too – blue accents guide visitors around the space. Sprawled across the central marble plinth is Louie Rigano and Gil Muller’s robust weaved rug, Jiří Pelcl's whimsical metal teddies and Tina Roeder’s shelving, all in similar electric hues.

‘Once the pieces in the gallery find an owner, the mode of camaraderie is broken, and the individual relationship to these possessions begins,’ she adds. Krzykowski intends to add more layers to her collage – the next three chapters of her installation are set to unfold between now and spring next year.

The exhibition takes inspiration from a collage by British artist Richard Hamilton.

The exhibition takes inspiration from a collage by British artist Richard Hamilton, and is an eclectic medley of new and especially commissioned design works

(Image credit: Richard Hamilton)

Chicken sculpture in studio.

Chicken, by Silo Studio

(Image credit: Silo Studio)

he Vessel (Just What Is).

The Vessel (Just What Is), by Niek Hendrix

(Image credit: Niek Hendrix)

’You Name It, 2016 Shelf #1, Thing #1’.

’You Name It, 2016  Shelf #1, Thing #1’, by Robert Stadler

(Image credit: Robert Stadler)

Blue Leather Shelf.

Detail of ’Blue Leather Shelf’, by Tina Roeder

(Image credit: Tina Roeder)

Cannit, Binnit and blankets.

Left: ’Cannit, Binnit’, by Martino Gamper. Right: ’The Death of Graphic Design’ blankets, by Design Displacement Group

(Image credit: Martino Gamper)

Neon lights and Cold Cut.

Left: Neon lights, by Jochen Holz. Right: ’Cold Cut’, by Nick van Woert

(Image credit: Jochen Holz, Nick van Woert)

Dynamic mirror and Syzygy Phases

Left: ’Dynamic mirror’, by Florian Ziller. Right: ’Syzygy Phases’, by Os & Oos

(Image credit: Florian Ziller, Os & Oos)


’Just What Is It’ is on view until May 2017. For more information, visit the Chamber NYC website


515 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011


Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.