The tale begins in 2006, in London, inside an old woodworking shop in Chelsea chosen by the two friends Julien Lombrail and Loïc Le Gaillard as a space for selling paintings. “We soon realized, however, that the art market was very crowded, and we needed to find our ‘thing,’ the founders say. “Seeing the way that functional objects – a chair, a table, a lamp – could equally evoke a strong emotional response, we soon knew we had found our ‘raison d’être.’”
In 2008 they opened a site in London’s Mayfair district, followed by new venues in 2011, in the Marais district of Paris, in 2015 in New York and finally in 2018 in San Francisco, inside the Saint Joseph’s Arts Society, an eccentric art space created in a deconsecrated church. With the idea of generating an unusual art-design concept, summed up in the phrase “haut artisanat savoir faire,” the manifesto written by the founders forcefully expresses the leitmotif of Carpenters Workshop Gallery: “Our energies are focused on a specific and rare moment when design becomes art: the inception of a new movement stepping into the debate of form versus function. Carpenters Workshop Gallery is a play, constantly demanding to be reset, in which we cannot help but be ourselves.”
A gallery that is not only a display space, but also an operative site in which the magic of crafts transforms the project into a true functional work of art. As Julien Lombrail & Loïc Le Gaillard put it: “We are addicted to the creative process, we surrender ourselves to our yearning for poetry and emotion, which guide us in our artistic choices. Beyond markets and trends, we seek our own timeless truth: every new piece must seduce both of us, stirring every atom of our minds and senses with an overwhelming desire to touch and caress it, providing a total and intense experience.”
Following this vision, Julien Lombrail & Loic Le Gaillard decided to open a production house, Carpenters Workshop Roissy, where a team of master craftsmen shapes the ideas of artists who have been working with the gallery for some time. Protagonists of contemporary creativity like Virgil Abloh, Atelier Van Lieshout, Maarten Baas, Wendell Castle, Paul Cocksedge, Nacho Carbonell, Johanna Grawunder, Rick Owens, Drift, Studio Job, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Aneta Regel, whose works are presented by Carpenters Workshop at the most important events for collectible design.
The space in New York (693 Fifth Avenue) is now hosting an exhibition on Vincenzo De Cotiis, “Éternel,” with sculptural works made in iridescent aluminium whose surface changes color and form from various vantage points. “The ethereal luminescence and transparency of the materials used, such as Murano glass and iridescent metals, alter perception while the sutures attempt the impossible: patching time,” De Cotiis explains.
In the London location, until 27 August 2021, “Tiss-Tiss” features the collection of the same name by the French-Japanese duo Aki+Arnaud Cooren – winners of the Collectible Design Award – who are known for their interdisciplinary approach. In their first solo exhibition in the UK, the new collection with its minimalist aesthetic contains chairs, bedside units, stools, lamps, a dining table and a bench made with traditional handmade textiles mixed with aluminium.
Finally, at 54 Rue de la Verrerie in Paris, “Elemental Folds” – on view until 28 July 2021 – is the first solo show by Kostas Lambridis, a rising Greek designer who has worked in the studio of Nacho Carbonell, capable of reconstructing iconic models like the Baroque Badminton Cabinet or the Carlton bookcase by Memphis to re-create tables, chandeliers, cabinets and bookcases. At the gallery, nine works made by hand with objects found in Athens – broken glass, tiles, bamboo baskets, wooden furniture, plastic garden chairs, auto parts – reassembled in unique sculptures of monumental proportions. As Nacho Carbonell remarks, “Kostas is like a brother for me, and his work is both brutal and refined at the same time, made with very great intelligence. An artist who will help to open up new horizons in the field of creativity, guiding us to improve our perception and understanding of the world.”
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
London (Mayfair), 4 Albemarle Street
Paris (Marais), 54 Rue De La Verrerie
New York, 693 Fifth Avenue