noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest

noguchi museum collaborates with objects of common interest 

 

the noguchi museum has partnered with objects of common interest to present a collaborative installation titled ‘hard, soft, and all lit up with nowhere to go.’ the greece- and new york-based studio sculpts its pieces with an ‘unfamiliar simplicity,’ and scatters them among the monolithic works of isamu noguchi. the work is playful and soft, made from a range of soft materials as carved foam, cast technogel, and inflatable plastic. an exploration of opal resin shows the sunlight transformed into pale blues and deep oranges. 

 

designboom meets with the team at objects of common interest in time for the show’s opening to learn more about the enormous and enigmatic body of work. 

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
tube light, 2019, alongside noguchi’s sculpture | image © designboom

 

 

objects of common interest scatters its enigmatic pieces

 

eleni petaloti and leonidas trampoukis, co-founders and principals of objects of common interest, express a shared focus with isamu noguchi. they each approach form as ‘an abstract empirical tool of social function.’ the team ultimately views its objects as without an explicit or essential purpose, searching for something more than simply function or attention. instead, the objects hint at an ‘unidentifiable usefulness.’ exhibition curator dakin hart comments: it’s in those in-between states and zones, free from any particular requirement, that noguchi’s thinking thrived,. 

 

for ‘hard, soft, and all lit up with nowhere to go’, the studio has scattered its enigmatic and luminous pieces across the museum, in dialogue with noguchi’s original works. the luminous and soft sculptures contrast the raw character of the existing ones. the artworks are at once abstract, expressive, emotional, and undefinable. 

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
tube light, 2019, alongside noguchi’s sculpture | image © designboom

 

 

VIEWING THE EXHIBITION

 

meandering through the garden of the noguchi museum,  an inflatable ‘standing stone’ at once dominates the place. commenting on the work, with its imperfectly organic profile, curator dakin hart (DH) notes:structurally this just a giant beach ball!‘ as the towering monolith softly sways, he continues: ‘your average fifteen-ton standing stone doesn’t do this.’ 

 

DB: when you make an inflatable standing stone, what’s the first step? is the geometry first 3D modeled?

 

DH: it’s incredibly interesting, the process — eleni and leo collaborate on ideas just by talking, not by sketching. then they have a platonic ideal of the thing that they want to make that they share, then they find a fabricator and they do it.

 

DB: so it’s obviously not a perfect shape, it’s very organic in an imperfect sense — is that intentional, or is the shape a result of the fabrication process?

 

leonidas trampoukis (LT): it is intentional but not designed to be that way. we were first commissioned to do a show with reference to greek cycladic art. we sketched it in our minds, we discussed and then we did a couple of sketches — then we selected the 3D models and sent those to the fabricator. 

 

so the irregular shapes are intentional, but it wasn’t until they were made that they were actually finalized. we couldn’t finalize them in sketches because the fabrication controls so much — the way the seams are placed — it was modified slightly from our original sketches. but we’re open to this, and we don’t need to design the perfect, precise object. 

 

DB: you did mention earlier that was the spirit of the project.

 

LT: very much. to some extent, you let the material determine what becomes of it — what the sculpture ends up being.

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common intereststanding stone, 2019 | image © designboom 

 

 

MATERIAL EXPLORATION

 

much of the work in this way lies between intentionally-designed geometry and resultant form. through a playful experimentation of materials, the team discovers new and unexpected conditions.

 

perhaps the clearest instance of this discovery is shown through the offerings-rock objects. the team recalls a ‘tchotchke fabricator’ who had used a unique opal acrylic to create small ‘statue of liberty’ figurines. upon his retirement, he shared his enigmatic opal with the designers at objects of common interest for their sculptural work.

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interestofferings-rock II, 2000 | image © designboom

 

 

the digital feature

 

earlier before the exhibition, objects of common interest and the noguchi museum have also released a digital feature investigating noguchi’s relationship with greece. the feature takes shape as a visual collage in three sections. the first section is named ‘noguchi in greece’ and gathers photographs, letters, and other ephemera from the museum’s archive to illustrate noguchi’s travels, personal relationships, and impressions of greece. meanwhile, the second section titled ‘greece within noguchi’ follows influences of the culture, materiality, and atmosphere of greece through his work.

 

in the third section, ‘tracing noguchi’, the studio showcases a collaboration with international photographers invited to interpret objects of common interest’s works in relation to henry miller’s impressionist travelogue ‘the colossus of maroussi’, which noguchi held on to during his travels through greece in the 1950s. as objects of common interest explain : ‘as we investigated, it became almost essential to express how our study of noguchi has affected our quest for abstraction. noguchi’s impact on us is not unlike that of the greek landscape, sun, and culture: not in any direct way related to formal expression, but the essential backdrops to our journey.’

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interestlounge | image © designboom

 

 

about isamu noguchi

 

as stated in the exhibition’s curatorial texts provided by the museum, noguchi’s aim in invoking the relationship between art and design was neither to elevate nor to reject design. isamu noguchi saw no hierarchical relationship between the disciplines and was disinterested in such labels. in his view, all sculpture should be functional — function is what he means by ‘fundamental problems.’

 

in an interview with the league quarterly, noguchi explained his perspective on what it meant to design as an artist: ‘I am not a designer. the word design implies catering to the quixotic fashion of the time. all my work, tables as well as sculptures, are conceived as fundamental problems of form that would best express human and aesthetic activity involved with these objects. I have done some work for mass production technique. here the problem was approached entirely freely and without compromises so far as I was concerned. art is an act. the act of creating a fundamental form, though it may be disciplined by the fundamental nature of the object desired, is not designing in the accepted sense.’

 

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
tube light, 2019, alongside noguchi’s sculpture

noguchi-objects-of-common-interest-exhibition-designboom-full-width-02

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
tube light, 2019

noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
tube light, 2019, alongside noguchi’s sculpture

 

 

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noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
 
noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
 
noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
 
noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
 
noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
 
noguchi museum dotted with soft, enigmatic forms by objects of common interest
 

project info:

 

exhibition name: ‘hard, soft, and all lit up with nowhere to go’
designers: objects of common interest
location: the noguchi museum, long island city, new york

curator: dakin hart
dates: from september 15, 2021 through february 13, 2022.

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