Non-visual forces: Robert O’Connell at James gallery

'Standing Objects' artwork from Robert O’Connell
‘Standing Objects’ marks the start of a series of explorations on the fundamentals of design by Parisian gallery James, debuting with the works of American designer Robert O’Connell
(Image credit: TBC)

Parisian gallery James (opens in new tab) presents the works of American designer Robert O'Connell (opens in new tab) in a new exhibition debuting later this month.

‘Standing Objects’ marks the start of a series of explorations on the fundamentals of design, which the gallery founders Paul Viguier and Candice Fauchon intend to carry out through several exhibitions in the coming month. The pair founded the gallery in 2012 at the Puces de Saint-Ouen market, and recently relocated to a new Paris outpost, where they now present a diverse range of modern and contemporary design. (They've a penchant for Brazilian makers but maintain a wide outlook at global creative talent.)

The RISD-educated O’Connell creates archetypal shapes that blur the boundaries between furniture and art through a minimal aesthetic. The designer's capsule collection is a departure from his earlier, more voluminous works, and results from an exploration of structural codes of post-war furniture. His inspiration focusses on the principles of economy of means, an instrumental notion in the definition of modern design, which he pushes to the very limit.

Using half-inch steel rods, O’Connell created forms both abstract and familiar, giving viewers the possibility to complete the visual story. He cites design influences such as Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer and references artists such as Donald Judd (the designer’s background, pre RISD, is in visual arts), whose aesthetics are distilled into these pieces. ‘Form and visual experience are one element of an object,’ he explains, ‘functionality is another. Form and function are not mutually exclusive, one enhances another.’

Playing on the fine line between form and function, ‘Standing Objects’ is the beginning of a larger conversation, both for the designer’s young career and for the gallery’s future design explorations. ‘This is a communicating bridge for the art I saw in design,’ adds O’Connell. ‘My goal for this series was to describe the non-visual forces of the humble phenomena present in the third dimension.’

'Standing Objects' artwork

The pieces on display feature archetypal shapes that blur the boundaries between furniture and art through a hyper-minimal aesthetic

(Image credit: TBC)

'Standing Objects' artwork made from steel rods

Using half-inch steel rods, O’Connell created forms both abstract and familiar

(Image credit: TBC)

'Standing Objects' artwork using steel rods

O’Connell cites design influences such as Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer and references artists such as Donald Judd, whose aesthetics are well distilled into these pieces

(Image credit: TBC)

Sketches from Robert O'Connell

Two examples of O’Connell’s early sketches, which explore the spatial dimensions of the pieces

(Image credit: TBC)

A digital drawing of the collection, enhancing its simple shapes

A digital drawing of the collection, enhancing its simple shapes

(Image credit: TBC)

INFORMATION

’Standing Objects’ is on view from 22 October – 15 November

ADDRESS

James Gallery
18/20, rue de Thorigny
75003 Paris

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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.