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.
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.
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.
'Step By Step', Galerie Kreo, 16 September – 5 November 2022
Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.
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