I have yet to make it to Industry Gallery—the Washington, D.C., design-art space created by Craig Appelbaum—but it’s on my list of places to visit because Appelbaum has a sophisticated eye for exhibiting extraordinary talent. On view now is “Hands On,” which features a new series of concrete (yes, I said concrete, not inflatable) furniture by Dutch designer Tejo Remy—a founding designer at Droog—and René Veenhuizen, his design partner for the past decade. I’ve asked Appelbaum and the designers a few questions about the new collection in the exhibition, the first solo U.S. show for the pair; the inspiration behind the pieces; and how it feels to be so steeped in creativity. Appelbaum’s responses are here. To see what the designers had to say, visit my Examiner page. The show is on view through May 8, 2010.
RBD: When you first saw the concrete furniture, what popped into your mind?
CA: I had a couple reactions when I saw the pieces about six weeks ago in their Utrecht studio: first, these are an important addition to their oeuvre and further expand their design vocabulary, and second, they must be included in their exhibition at Industry. As “Hands On” demonstrates, Tejo and René have been extremely productive during the past decade, mining a very interesting aesthetic based on the use and re-use of humble and basic materials, but also furthering that sustainability aspect by experimenting with products such as Accoya.
RBD: How do you think artists/designers such as Tejo and René change the landscape of furniture design?
CA: The design innovations we’re seeing here go way beyond furniture. Tejo and René, and other visionary designers, change the way we view, understand, receive and value design writ at large. Their work enables us to think more expansively about the role of design and how great design improves actual functions and enriches us aesthetically. Historically, we’ve seen design innovations that have reflected a broader cultural worldview—whether the stunning efficiency of the Shakers or the opulence associated with 18th-century France. We now live in a catalogue culture that favors a homogenous response to nearly every design issue, whether in simple home products or urban planning. Tejo and René authoritatively help put that creeping homogenization to lie.
RBD: What’s it like to be continually exposed to such creative beings?
CA: On a personal level, every day with these designers provides another epiphany ranging from a new understanding about the use of a material to a philosophical outlook. One of my primary goals in opening Industry is to share design with a larger audience, in the hopes they’ll experience the some of the same joys and amazement that I experience.