New York powerhouse gallery R & Company is known for its ability to balance a historical and contemporary focus. Its expertise of the midcentury modern Brazilian period is matched by its mastery of Postmodern design from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. The multi-venue gallery is also recognized for its diverse roster of contemporary talents; working in various mediums, applications, styles, and approaches. Playing to its own strengths, the gallery has mounted two distinct group shows at its sprawling White Street location this spring. On view till June 19th, these two exhibitions reflect a clever curatorial vision: the decision to reframe, reassess, and recontextualize key works from the gallery’s boundless stores and to debut newly acquired pieces.
Building on the success of a similar exhibition mounted in 2017, a seminal anthology, and full-feature-length film—developed with independent curator Maria Cristina Didero—Radical living presents important works from various collectives and talents of the once controversial but wildly influential Radical Italian Design movement. This period of firebrand fervor saw major designers question the fundamentals of how we live, interact, and occupy space. This design zeitgeist reflected the progressive and revolutionary tones of the time’s societal shifts.
Inspired by the irreverent interiors of the era, three uncluttered, immersive vignettes display singular yet seminal works by Joe Colombo, the partnership of Pietro Derossi, Giorgo Ceretti and Riccardo Rosso, and R & Company darling Lapo Binazzi. Colombo’s rarely-seen Living System Box 1—a modular living environment that comprises a closet, bed, chest, shelf, desk, and vanity—is joined by the designer’s equally transposable Table Kitchen.
In another mise-en-scene, four of Derossi, Ceretti, and Rosso’s iconic Prantone sofas—graphic “big lawn” inspired polyurethane foam units—are placed and interlocked together in front of a two-tone green stripe wallcovering that appears reminiscent of a Daniel Buren installation but is in-fact evocative of an Ettore Sottsass interior. Nearby, Studio 65’s epochal Bocca “lips” sofa flanks a display of Binazzi’s lamps: Dollaro and MGM. The designer’s wearable umbrella light—developed as a statement piece during Documenta 8 in 1987, hangs in the gallery’s street-facing window.
Downstairs and within the void of locale’s 40 foot-high atrium, the Dinner exhibit assembles an eclectic array of works created by R & Company’s assorted cast of contemporary and historic talents. Five dining room arrangements feature tables and chairs; accessories and wares; carpets and luminaires. this display combines designs by Pierre Yovanovitch, The Haas Brothers, Rogan Gregory, Katie Stout, Oscar Niemeyer, Joaquim Tenreiro, Ole Wanscher, Christian Wassmann, Renate Müller, Kelly Lamb, Jeff Zimmerman, and Ashley Hicks. These fascinating juxtapositions reveal the gallery’s broad scope but also hint at an interesting dialogue between different design approaches.
Key works include Yovanovitch’s OOPS collection, The Haas Brother’s Young Willing & Table, and Katie Stout’s handprinted porcelain plates; produced by Austrian heritage brand Augarten during her residency at Schloss Hollenegg for Design.