Konstantin Grcic — Man Machine
Past: February 13 → May 17, 2014
Clearly, Konstantin Grcic is a designer who thrives on challenges whatever the technical constraints or time required for a project to unfold. For his new furniture collection Man Machine taken from the name of the 1978 album by legendary group Kraftwerk he has worked exclusively in glass, a common enough material and yet one rarely seen in the field of contemporary design.
Examples are few and far between in the discipline, with the exception of Shiro Kuramata’s Glass Chair (1976) and a handful of designs by Fontana Arte. All the odds are that Man Machine will write a new chapter of its own, so singular is the collection and so imposing in its purity.
In collaboration with a workshop established in Frankfurt in 1829, Konstantin Grcic has developed an ingenious collection of glass furniture made from industrial float glass identical to that used in architecture. Each piece round table, bookshelves, chair, side table, large table, single and double chests, vertical cabinet is operated by a simple mechanism that not only meets contemporary design’s demand for scaleability but also that truly performs its function. By means of pistons, hinges, cranks and knobs, and through the use of black silicone that allows plates of glass to move whilst highlighting their design, each piece is dynamic and lends itself to human movements and mechanical strength a reminder of the designer’s penchant for the world of automobiles, already manifest in his Champions collection exhibited at Galerie kreo in 2011. Nonetheless, there is nothing cold, distant or “electronic” about this association of the transparent and the mechanical. Although Man Machine is firmly bedded in the industrial design approach characteristic of Konstantin Grcic’s work, here the glass like Kraftwerk’s electronic music takes on sensual and porous notes. Yet, in 2008, with his Karbon chaise-longue, the designer was examining the tension between reality and appearance: for this piece between the lightness of a design and the sturdiness of a structure.
Exploring the relationships between exterior and interior, fragile appearance and real practicality, potentialities and tautology, human mechanics and the power of air, the Man Machine collection, stripped of all artifice, also seems to toy with the current questionings of design, elaborating on the issues addressed by the Light & Space movement in 1960s America and Larry Bell, in particular or those raised by Jeff Koons with his cabinets in the early 1980s. Once again, Konstantin Grcic pushes back the boundaries of the domestic stage by creating a radical collection poised between hi-fi aesthetics, a fascination with transparency and a reflection on his own practice
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