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chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue

DESIGN IN DIALOGUE: INTERVIEW WITH chris schanck

 

on april 1, 2020, new york gallery friedman benda initiated a series of online interviews aimed at connecting individuals across the world with leading voices in the creative field. design in dialogue is a conversational program hosted alternately by curator and historian glenn adamson and designer stephen burks that engages with designers, makers, critics, and curators as they reflect on their careers and creative processes. against the backdrop of COVID-19 and global lockdowns, the conversations are held virtually on zoom for 1 hour for anyone in the world to tune in to, and include a participatory Q&A with the audience in attendance. friedman benda has since presented more than 90 episodes, each offering unparalleled insight into the sensibilities, musings, and memories of today’s creative protagonists. see our recent feature of ortamiklos on ‘improvisational design’ and tom dixon on ‘creative salvage’.

 

on april 8, 2020, design in dialogue welcomed detroit-based artist and designer chris schanck, who discussed the compelling story of his studio, located in a former factory in banglatown. working with a team of artisans – including bangladeshi craftspeople from his neighborhood – schanck creates bespoke furniture, sculptures and other objects out of salvaged and inexpensive materials. he quickly became known in the design world for signature fabrication process, titled ‘alufoil’, in which the studio’s artisans burnish thin pieces of aluminum foil to an object’s structural armatures, which are built up from pieces of steel and hand-carved foam insulation. although made from ‘valueless’ materials, the unique pieces of furniture and sculptures that emerge from this process evoke a certain opulence and unconventional sense of luxury. ‘the perceived outcome of these pieces may be that they are luxurious, but they don’t start off that way,’ chris schanck mentions during his conversation with glenn adamson.‘they are not, in the traditional sense, luxury items. so there are no rare, precious materials in them. what makes these valuable is the people and the work that goes into working with these materials.’

 

watch the full video interview at the top of the page, and learn more about the work of chris schanck and his ongoing exhibition at the museum of arts and design (MAD) below.

 chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
installation view of ‘chris schanck: off-world’ at the museum of arts and design, new york (february 12, 2022 to january 8, 2023). photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

 

 

‘chris schanck: off-world’ at mAD, new york

 

chris schanck’s otherworldly furniture forms are now on view at the museum of arts and design (MAD). marking his first solo museum exhibition in new york, ‘chris schanck: off-world’ presents the artist’s elaborately carved, colorfully hued, and lustrous sculptures and pieces of furniture. on view until january 8, 2023, the exhibition also includes several recently completed works that explore the artist’s new directions toward the figural and the personal. his works are influenced by a wide range of sources, ranging from his local surroundings of detroit, brutalist and art deco architecture, ancient egyptian and aztec iconography to motifs from the fringes of popular culture. his strange, unfamiliar forms suggest coral reefs, extraterrestrial worlds, and artifacts from ancient civilizations, while other works, particularly the latest figural pieces, reference mythology, poetry, and aspects of his own life.

 

guest curated by director of the cranbrook art museum andrew blauvelt, the exhibition is a result of a long-standing creative dialogue between blauvelt and schanck, who graduated from cranbrook academy of art in 2011. ‘schanck is one of the most exciting artists working in contemporary furniture design today,’ said blauvelt. ‘his work represents the fruitful integration of art and design. conceptually rich, materially inventive, and aesthetically adventuresome, it challenges our expectations of design—it does not quietly occupy space, but rather inhabits our minds and engages our senses.’

 

video by studio oiseau

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grotto mirror: lavender II, 2019; grotto console: pomegranate, 2019. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

 chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
concretion, 2021, edition of 8. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

 chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
cryo II, 2020. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

 chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
invasion, 2018; fluorescence, 2020. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
mum chandelier, 2020; scrying table III, 2018; the eye of the little god, 2022; gold 900, 2018. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum

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installation view of ‘chris schanck: off-world’, photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

 chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
shuddering cabinet, 2022. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

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shuddering cabinet (detail), 2022. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
banglatown, 2018. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

chris-schanck-off-world-at-mad-new-york-friedman-benda-design-in-dialogue-designboom-large

installation view of ‘chris schanck: off-world’, photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
shuddering coffee table, 2021. courtesy of friedman benda and chris schanck. photography by clare gatto

chris schanck on his otherworldly alufoil creations for friedman benda's design in dialogue
the eye of the little god, 2022. courtesy of friedman benda and chris schanck. photography by clare gatto

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the eye of the little god (detail), 2022. installation view at the museum of arts and design, new york. photo by jenna bascom; courtesy the museum of arts and design

 

 

project info:

 

exhibition: name: chris schanck: off-world

duration: february 12, 2022 – january 8, 2023

location: museum of arts and design (MAD), new york

designer: chris schanck
gallery: friedman benda

 

 

design in dialogue is a series of online interviews presented by new york-based gallery friedman benda that highlights leading voices from the field — designers, makers, critics, and curators — as they discuss their work and ideas. hosted alternately by curator and historian glenn adamson and designer stephen burks, the conversations are held on zoom for 1 hour and include a participatory Q&A.

 

watch the full video interview with chris schanck at the top of the page and stay tuned as designboom continues to share design in dialogue features. see all past episodes — and RSVP for upcoming ones — here.

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