iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum

a chair and you at grassi museum of applied arts

 

With A Chair and You, the GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts is showcasing one of the world’s most important private collections of seating products by over 100 artists, designers, and architects from the 1960s to the present day. Since the late 1990s, Geneva-based entrepreneur and collector Thierry Barbier-Mueller brought together many innovative chairs with a sculptural character that goes far beyond the usual typology. The presentation of around 140 pieces is entrusted to American artist, director, and designer Robert Wilson. An exceptional scenography of sound, light, and set design, the show plunges the public into immersive worlds where chairs are treated as if they were the protagonists of performing arts, spotlighting the many variations of seating design. Wilson scrutinizes the objects and breathes life into them, to let them speak for themselves. This major show is one of the highlights of Jubilee year 2024, when the museum celebrates its 150th year. 

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
A CHAIR AND YOU at GRASSI Museum: Bright Space | image © Felix Bielmeier

 

 

robert wilson concocts an opera of four acts 

A Chair and You at GRASSI Museum (see more here) offers the visitor an ‘opera’ in four acts and just as many stages – with a scenography in which the history of art and design from the 1960s to the present day is told through Thierry Barbier-Mueller‘s unique collection. The first, KALEIDOSCOPE SPACE, remains closed; its cubic layout with a mirror-lined interior serves as a showcase for the exhibits. Circular openings reveal the sculptural and metallic qualities of the chairs, which virtually melt into this reflective environment. The changing light intensifies the kaleidoscopic effect. Up next is DARK SPACE; through a low, backlit door, the dazzled visitors enter a dark and hushed room. As if floating in darkness, the chairs are revealed in turn by changing lights that give them a star power. As in a planetarium, projectors guide one’s gaze to observe some of the most significant pieces of the collection.

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Bright Space | image © Felix Bielmeier

 

MEDIUM SPACE, meanwhile exudes calm, minimalism, and geometry; straight, clean lines divide this monochrome landscape. Onspired by the formal language of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion (1929), the layout is structured by semi-transparent walls made of tulle. The open, soothing space is in dialogue with chairs that have strong architectural features. The soft and diffuse light contrasts with a metallic sound environment.
Lastly, visitors discover BRIGHT SPACE, designed as islands comprising a dense network of some of the most colorful and eclectic chairs in the collection, giving visitors the illusion of getting lost in a forest, as if from a fantasy world. Bright colors, surprising materials, and curves predominate in this light-flooded space. The chairs have been intuitively arranged according to affinities and grouped around themes such as the animalistic, the sculptural, a pop factor, humor, or technical sophistication.

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Medium Space | image © Felix Bielmeier

 

 

a deeper dive into the Thierry Barbier-Mueller collection

 

The chair embodies an exciting combination between aesthetics and use, a form with infinitive possibilities. In the 1990s, Thierry Barbier-Mueller (1960–2023) became fascinated by the creativity, freshness and tremendous explosion of spontaneity of designers such as Ron Arad and Tom Dixon, especially in this field. His acquisitions grew spontaneously through new discoveries and encounters, resulting in a collection of over 650 chairs dating from the 1960s to the present day. Comprising about two-thirds unique pieces, prototypes, or works from limited editions, the collection reflects an interest in atypical objects, off the beaten track of industrial design. Far from wanting to put together an exhaustive and scientific corpus on the contemporary history of the chair, Barbier-Mueller was interested in everything that stood out as unique and innovative in the field. It was above all the object itself that captivated him. Its uniqueness, its plasticity, the humour it evokes, or its materiality.

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Kaleidosope Space | image © Lucie Jansch

 

 

The collection at GRASSI Museum brings together works by internationally renowned creative minds and lesser-known talents, including designs by, among others, Ron Arad, Maarten Baas, Humberto and Fernando Campana, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Tom Dixon, Front, Martino Gamper, Garouste & Bonetti, Frank Gehry, Richard Hutten, Hella Jongerius, Daniel Libeskind, Michele de Lucchi, Xavier Lust, Enzo Mari, Ingo Maurer, Alessandro Mendini, Jasper Morisson, Nathalie du Pasquier, Gaetano Pesce, Oki Sato, Jerszy Seymour, Ettore Sottsass, Marcel Wanders, Stefan Wewerka, Tokujin Yoshioka, Oskar Zieta, and visual artists such as Donald Judd, Isamu Noguchi, Niki de Saint Phalle, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Wilson and Franz West. A book documenting the entire collection was published in 2022 and will be available at the museum’s bookshop: The Spirit of Chairs. The Chair Collection of Thierry Barbier-Mueller, October 2022, Lars Mueller Publishers GmbH, 384 pages, 927 illustrations. 

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Dark Space | image © Felix Bielmeier

a-chair-and-you-designboom-full-1

Ingo Maurer | image © Lucie Jansch

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Xavier Lust, Archiduchaise, 2007 | mirror polished aluminum, Edition of 18 | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Ron Arad | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller

a-chair-and-you-designboom-full-2

Dark Space | image © Felix Bielmeier

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Stefan Wewerka, Klassenraumstuhl, 1971 | © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2024 | image © Patrick Goetelen

iconic chairs by robert wilson, gaetano pesce, frank gehry & more land at GRASSI museum
Tom Dixon | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller

a-chair-and-you-designboom-full-3

Humberto & Fernando Campana | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier Mueller

 

1/8
Alessandro Mendini | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Alessandro Mendini | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Pool | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Pool | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Charles Kaisin | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Charles Kaisin | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Boris Dennler | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Boris Dennler | image © Patrick Goetelen, collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Kaleidosope Space and Robert Wilson | image © Lucie Jansch
Kaleidosope Space and Robert Wilson | image © Lucie Jansch
Kaleidosope Space | image © Lucie Jansch
Kaleidosope Space | image © Lucie Jansch
Dark Space and Robert Wilson | image © André Kempner (LVZ)
Dark Space and Robert Wilson | image © André Kempner (LVZ)
Medium Space | image © Felix Bielmeier
Medium Space | image © Felix Bielmeier

project info:

 

name:  A Chair and You 

location: GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts, Leipzig | @grassimak

curators: Chantal Prod’Hom, Charlotte Savolainen-Mailler

exhibition design: Robert Wilson | @bob___wilson

scenography: Annick Lavallée-Benn

lighting design: Marcello Lumaca

sound design: Dario Felli
R.Wilson personal assistant: Liam Krumstroh
GRASSI Museum project coordinator: Miriam Heckhoff

graphics/advertising: kocmoc.brand

viewing dates: 08.05.2024 – 06.10.2024

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom
happening now! AXOR makes individual luxury a reality in the bathroom, and reveals its citterio C collection by antonio citterio.

chair design (606)

exhibition design (559)

museums and galleries (660)

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5