The objects, designers, news, and events worth knowing about.
Fi Isidore’s “Pomegranate Carved in the Round” at Larrie
During the pandemic, Brooklyn-based artist Fi Isidore spent hours scrolling through the V&A and Met’s digital collections and reading Paul Preciado’s Pornotopia, which interprets pieces of furniture as psychosexual objects. Isidore’s first solo show, “Pomegranate Carved in the Round,” at Larrie through August 27, is filled with pieces based on her lockdown-era research: designs inspired by Victorian garment and shoe patterns and made with materials like leather, lace, and human hair and teeth (from her sister and Etsy, respectively). A wall-mounted altarpiece called Block from the False Door of Mery’s Chapel (Julian, Lily, Eliza, Kara…) was inspired by mourning veils and reliquaries; a chair titled Figure: Twins is adorned with leather strung like a corset and riffs on traditional conversation seats, but Isidore’s version plays up the tension with conjoined back-to-back seats. (She designed it with a friend, saying they “wanted somewhere to sit at an after-hours party.”) “I felt most guided by Preciado’s reading that furniture is just objects in the setting of our dark and formative experiences,” Isidore says. “It plays this shadow-self role.”
The Fulton Fish Market’s Transformation Into a Food Hall
The South Street Seaport seems to be in a constant state of redevelopment — what with the Howard Hughes Corporation determined to turn the tourist trap into a luxury destination. Pier 17 has been the focus recently with a sprawling restaurant-and-entertainment complex that hosts rooftop concerts. The last piece of the pier’s postindustrial transformation is the historic Fulton Fish Market’s conversion into a food hall, the Tin Building, curated by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which is now complete. The redesign, by SHoP Architects with interiors by Roman and Williams, is not without controversy — the building was disassembled and moved 32 feet to the east — but the results are stunning. The ground floor has the feel of a European marketplace with its Art Nouveau–style green tile on the walls, marble counters at the bars and restaurants, and lots of natural light. The building’s design nudges you to explore the 53,000 square-foot space — from the charred-cedar walls of the sushi bar to the neon-green escalator leading upstairs and the candy-and-gelato shop done up with pink walls like a Wes Anderson set. “We wanted it to be everybody’s dream of what a candy store should be,” says Robin Standefer, one-half of Roman and Williams. “Even the crazy terrazzo floor looks like something you could eat.”
The escalators at the Met have always felt like an afterthought — a rather unceremonious (and kind of ugly) piece of equipment in an otherwise grand building. Thankfully, the museum commissioned artist Michael Lin to create a site-specific installation for the escalator nearest the Great Hall steps. For Pentachrome, a permanent installation that opened on August 15, Lin covered the walls in floral patterns borrowed from two of the museum’s Qing-dynasty porcelain vases: one with rocks and flowers and one with plum blossoms and birds. The vases typically live tucked away on the balcony overlooking the Great Hall steps; Lin’s installation puts the porcelain artistry front and center.
While Shaker design has never gone out of style, per se, it has been experiencing a resurgence lately — as evidenced by contemporary designers and artists exhibiting in historic Shaker villages, Rita Sodi and Jody Williams’s new restaurant filled with wooden tables and stools, and home-goods shops like Salter House channeling the aesthetic. Raf Simons is the latest to reinterpret the utilitarian style of furniture (traditionally made by the Shaker religious sect) with an accessories collection for Danish textile company Kvadrat. Simons designed key chains, tote bags, a magazine holder, pillows, throws, and a mirrored tray, all of which can hang off of an upholstered rail with hidden hooks inspired by the Shaker peg rail. “I wasn’t attracted to simply making a series of objects,” Simons told Vogue. “I thought, how can I give an identity to all these things together and make them relate to each other?” Would the Shakers have approved of Simons’s derivation? Probably not. They followed strict rules around creating “honest” furniture and avoiding deceitful ornamentation and garish color. It’s safe to say millennial pink and an upholstered powder-coated rail wouldn’t have been allowed, but they would have appreciated the attention paid to everyday objects and the ability to store them within arm’s reach. “My interest in industrial design has always been, at its core, about serving people and making people’s lives easier, better, more functional,” Simons added.
MASA, the Mexico City design gallery that took over an abandoned post office last spring (painting the entire space ivory and filling it with modern art and design), is in the Hamptons for “Harmonious Contradiction,” an exhibition organized with Sotheby’s. For the show, which runs until September 18, the artists created furniture and sculpture out of bronze and explored a variety of themes — from childbirth to caregiving to an Oaxacan archaeological site. Standouts include Mario García Torres’s A cast of the space under my chair, which was molded from the negative space beneath a traditional Jaliscan Silla Equipal chair, and Milena Muzquiz’s Casted bronze stools, inspired by African wood stools and how they contour to the human body.
In The Street Project, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Boyd looks at the intersecting reasons for pedestrian deaths in the city: Culprits include hundreds of years of car-centric urban planning, oversize SUVs that make driving more dangerous, the auto industry shifting blame to pedestrians, and political resistance to fixing the problem. Those who follow transportation policy will be familiar with the topic, but Boyd’s film provides a public service by making a wonky conversation broadly accessible. (It’s streaming on PBS, Amazon, and Apple TV, which certainly helps.) Boyd speaks with activists and urban designers in New York City about the work to transform Queens Boulevard (a.k.a. the “Boulevard of Death”) into a bikeable street. She reports from Phoenix, one the deadliest cities in America for pedestrians, which is finally embracing a Vision Zero policy. And she travels to Copenhagen to show how a city’s bicycle-first transformation — one that began in the 1990s — can lead to more livable cities. The Street Project makes a thorough case for protected bike lanes, shorter crosswalks, more signals, and generally safer streetscapes, showing that we can (and need to) design them better.
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