Spanish designers question the concept of a book in New York
Book fetish finds its physical manifestation in a new exhibition opening this week in New York. ‘Errata: Books do clutter a room’ launched 16 May at Mast Books as a part of New York Design Week. Taking a cue from the 1971 Anthony Powell novel Books Do Furnish a Room, curators Miguel Leiro and Nelson Harst of Antifurniture tapped nine Spanish designers to interpret the book in relation to the design object.
‘The exhibition’s concept has to do with how we perceive the things that we own, both the books that we have in our house as well as the objects we live with,’ explains Leiro, who splits his time between New York and Madrid. ‘Sometimes, we own things not necessarily for the exact function it may perform, but how we perceive it — be it a really nice book or a really nice piece of furniture we may never use — and I think this is really relevant in the designer world today, based on how people are consuming things.’
Parsing the book’s role as a signifier for values in the same way an expensive object can — a bookshelf full of heavy tomes is as much about performance as it is possession — the nine pieces conjured by the designers ranged from the conceptual to slightly surreal. Mallorca-based designer Sara Regal offered an interpretation of the church lectern in bubbling polyurethane, weighing the object’s relevance in relation to the (in this case Holy) book it serves. While Pablo Ferreira’s ‘Magazine Rack’ swings in at the opposite end of the spectrum: a hanging chrome and black latex basket that brings to mind dungeons.
‘Hiruki’ by Julen Ussía, a ceramicist by training, bounds together three rectangular panes of glass with oversized rubber bands to create a standing bookmark, while Jorge Penadés experimented with metallic finishes on his ‘Screwed’ shelving, made from a single bent piece of stainless steel. A softly glowing lamp constructed from sheaths of paper by Pablo Alabau rounds out the more material-focussed objects on display.
‘It is a conversation about the correlation between the book as an object and the design object itself,’ continues Leiro, ‘both on a physical level in terms of functionality and on a conceptual level in terms of the role an object has in communicating thoughts and ideas.’ §