elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play

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fragile beauty: Elton John and David Furnish’s photo collection

 

Architecture and design studio EBBA introduces a special project with the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), staging the scenography for Fragile Beauty, a new major exhibition celebrating Elton John and David Furnish’s renowned photography collection for the very first time. Led by founder Benni Allan, EBBA worked closely with the curators and the V&A team to craft a unique sequence of zones capturing the essence of the eight thematic sections at the museum, while ensuring the photography was centrestage. Guiding the pace, the studio carved out a series of threshold moments that give space between the rooms while also framing glimpses across to other galleries – underscoring the breadth of the show and the thematic connections at play. Placing sustainability at its forefront, EBBA repurposed over 75% of the materials from the previous major showcase of Chanel, reimagining and recycling the scenography with careful precision to create an entirely new experience.

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
EBBA scenography for Fragile Beauty at the V&A | all images © James Retief

 

 

EBBA’s thematic scenography blends light, curves, and colors

 

V&A visitors are first greeted by an initial welcome area where the subtle curvature of the walls skillfully removes any abrupt obstacles and establishes the rhythm and flow of the exhibition from the offset. As the first introduction to the themes of Fragile Beauty, ‘Fashion’ sets a mature yet playful starting point, where bespoke lighting works to mimic the flash photography synonymous with the era of many of the showcased works. Traversing through to ‘Stars of Stage’, EBBA (see more here) stages an opportunity for visitors to become part of the performance as a spotlight floods through the oculus. The peeled walls work to create intimate ‘rooms within a room’, ensuring space and attention are given to each of the major portraits displayed.

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
displaying Elton John and David Furnish’s renowned photography collection

 

 

creating a sense of visual crescendo at the V&A

 

In ‘Desire’, the sense of unveiling crescendos with the sharp placement of a large freestanding wall, teasing the visitor’s eye before discovering a series of intimate photographs which mark a key moment in the introduction of the body in the medium of photography. ‘Reportage’ offers a space for pause and reflection as the clean walls invite visitors to contemplate key points of recent history chronicled in photography. Meanwhile, ‘American scene’ introduces color and landscape, characterised by geometric mapping again directed by two large freestanding elements.

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
EBBA carved out a series of threshold moments that give space between the rooms

 

 

As the show progresses, the works become larger and more abstract. In order to address the scale and help make sense of the sequence, EBBA developed a large structure that appears to be suspended, evoking the feeling of a room that does not completely touch the ground. In addition to the hanging box, the perimeter walls peel away to distort the views and help to engage with each of the works more closely. Fragile Beauty opened to the public on May 18th, 2024, and will run until January 5th, 2025 at the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
repurposing over 75% of the materials from previous shows for the V&A exhibition

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
Fragile Beauty at V&A opened on May 18th, 2024

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elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
capturing the essence of the eight thematic sections

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
a color play outlines transitions from one theme to the next

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elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
‘Stars of Stage’ section

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
subtle curvature of the walls skillfully removes any abrupt obstacles at Fragile Beauty

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elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play

elton john and david furnish’s photo series at V&A is guided by thresholds and color play
EBBA worked closely with the curators and the V&A team to craft a unique sequence of zones

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