Zeev Aram’s store has been the cornerstone of Covent Garden for half a century, bringing the designs of Eileen Grey, Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier to London at a time when the UK was still a ‘modern furniture desert’. For The Aram Gallery’s latest exhibition, cutting-edge modern design is once again front and centre, as the store ushers in the next generation of talent with a new show.
The exhibition brings together 14 international designers, who are using ordinary materials, products and process in unusual – and often surprising – ways. Fittingly titled ‘Extra Ordinary’, the show has been put together by another bright young spark: the gallery’s newly minted curator, Riya Patel.
Formerly an architecture and design journalist, this is the first time Patel has stepped into the curator’s seat. ‘I’ve been challenged by the unpredictable nature of working with physical objects rather than images or words on pages,’ she explains. ‘The pieces all have their nuances, which you don’t quite realise until they get here and you put them in combination with each other.’
Two new pieces have been created especially for the show. Dutch design studio Odd Matter has unveiled ‘Deposit’, a trio of furniture pieces in cast Jesmonite, which depict the stages of an alternative, recycling concept. Meanwhile, Rachel Harding is presenting ‘ Wonderfluro’, a strange and beguiling design twist on the cheap fluorescent public lighting found in stairwells and subways. The British designer has placed glass in front of the lamps, multiplying the white light in the process and creating a hypnotising rainbow effect, which changes as viewers move across them.
Other highlights include Martjin Rigters’ sublime ‘Cutting Edge’ sofas – made by pushing large blocks of polystyrene through a specialised hot wire cutter; David Steiner’s quartet of galvanised steel stools; and Ying Chang’s ghostly bubble-wrap vessels formed by heat shrinking. All is not as it seems in this thought-provoking show.