Step by step: Virgil Abloh, Jaime Hayon and more rethink the ladder at Galerie Kreo, Paris

A new exhibition at Galerie Kreo, ‘Step By Step’, invites more than 20 designers to rethink the ladder’s classic design

Exhibited designs of ladders
Left to right: 'Acid Tracks Ladder' by Jerszy Seymour, 'Yo Yo' by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Escabeau Shaker Object c. 1860, 'Altos Staircase' by Jaime Hayon, 'World Leaders' Special Commision by Virgil Abloh,  'Le Scala' by Jasper Morrison and 'Nodes' by Chris Kabel
(Image credit: © Alexandra de Cossette Courtesy Galerie Kreo)

Ladders and their biblical and symbolic significance inspire a new exhibition at Galerie Kreo, with more than 20 designers rethinking the form, materials and use of the traditionally functional object.

In Paris exhibition ‘Step By Step’, new pieces, from stepladders to wall and library ladders, sit alongside older pieces, including the primitive Dogon ladder and an 18th-century Shaker design.

Three ladders against a white wall

From left to right: 'Ladder,' Muller Van Severen; 'Ladder,' Muller Van Severen; and Dogon Ladder. 

(Image credit: © Alexandra de Cossette Courtesy Galerie Kreo)

The essence of a ladder is called into question by designers including the late Virgil Abloh, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Guillaume Bardet, François Bauchet, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Pierre Charpin, Jean-Baptiste Fastrez, Front, Vidya Gastaldon, Konstantin Grcic, Jaime Hayon, Hella Jongerius, Chris Kabel, François Lafortune, Sven Abplanalp, Alessandro Mendini, Jasper Morrison, Marc Newson, Muller Van Severen, Julie Richoz, Jerszy Seymour and Studio Wieki Somers.

It is a question first considered by the gallery in 2008 with the creation of Marc Newson’s ‘Carbon Ladder’, the first ladder to be produced by Galerie Kreo. ‘My idea was to take a mundane functional implement – the ladder – and turn it into an esoteric, airy, sculptural object that serves its intended purpose while being exceptionally sturdy and lightweight,’ Newson said, embracing the offbeat union of function and aesthetics adopted by all the exhibitors.

orange ladder by Virgil Abloh

'World Leaders', special commission, Virgil Abloh. 

(Image credit: © Alexandra de Cossette Courtesy Galerie Kreo)

Ladders are attached to the wall or hang from the ceiling; anthropomorphised, they appear to listen, are playful or traditional. Pieces from Hella Jongerius' suspended rope ladders ‘Twisted Steps’, 2022, to Jerszy Seymour’s ‘Acid Tracks Ladder’, 2022, and Front’s ‘Tree Ladder’, 2022, confront the viewer with a contemporary rethinking of a classic design.

For others, the ladder’s steps become significant marking points. In Virgil Abloh’s ‘World Leaders’, 2022, they are a showcase for iconic Black figures from the civil rights movement and popular culture, while for Julie Richoz in ‘O’Step’, 2022, they are deconstructed entirely.

ladders in art gallery

(Image credit: © Alexandra de Cossette Courtesy Galerie Kreo)

ladders in art gallery

(Image credit: © Alexandra de Cossette Courtesy Galerie Kreo)

ladder designs at Galerie Kreo exhibition

Top to bottom: 'Ciel Wall Shelf' by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and 'Tree Ladder' by Front; 'Trait d'union, Hyphen' by Guillaume Bardet, 'Nodes' by Chris Kabel and 'Saqqarah' by Jean-Baptiste Fastrez; 'Lassu' by Pierre Charpin and 'Level' by François Bauchet.

(Image credit: © Alexandra de Cossette Courtesy Galerie Kreo)


'Step By Step', Galerie Kreo, 16 September – 5 November 2022

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.