Opened in Berlin in 2018 with a focus on contemporary design, the innovative Functional Art Gallery stems from the encounter between Benoît Wolfrom – with a background in real estate – and Javier Peres, a lawyer who has opened one of the most highly acclaimed art galleries in Los Angeles, and then in Berlin: Peres Projects.
“We come from different worlds, and visiting the homes of clients we saw that at times their art collections were combined with a less intense approach to design. We were already gathering prototypes and one-offs by rising young talents, and we thought the time had come to concentrate on collectible design. So the Functional Art gallery was born,” Wolfrom explains.
A stage for new talents, including Finn Meier and BNAG, a/k/a Oliver-Selim Boualam and Lukas Marstaller, who with their creativity give form to the question of what is art and what instead belongs to the sphere of design. Objects and furnishings that erase the thin boundary between form and function, perception and intention, aesthetics and purpose, leaving the imagination free to roam.
The works presented embody the creativity of young, visionary minds like OrtaMiklos, the duo composed of the Frenchman Leo Orta and the Dane Victor Miklos Andersen, both born in 1993 and graduates of the Design Academy Eindhoven. Inspired by the furnishings of Franz West and the decorative alchemy of the Italian group Memphis in the 1980s, their works reveal a deeper narrative in playful utilization of colors and forms.
One example is the installation Roman Decadence presented at Design Miami, evoking the paintings of Thomas Couture dating back to 1847. The result is a collection of surreal, sculptural and extravagant furnishings. A work that belongs to what the creators themselves call “ignorant design,” i.e. a process that explores limits and unknown aesthetic worlds through traditional silhouettes.
Pop colors, on the other hand, encase a tubular shape that shapes space in three dimensions and seems to unfold in an infinite way: the result is the Mono collection created by the Korean artist Greem Jeong, born in 1993, a graduate of ESAD Reims. Furnishings made with one of his favorite materials – silicone – which the designer likes to use to shape his functional works of art.
The creations of Anna Aagaard Jensen, born in 1991, one of the rising talents coming out of Eindhoven, take on a total pink look: here series Lady, composed of ten gigantic sculptural seats, is a genuine ode to femininity and a political gender manifesto. With a warning for men: it is forbidden for them to sit on them.
Another student of the Dutch design academy has produced an original idea: Théophile Blandet, French, 29 years old, has an approach that goes decidedly against the current; he shapes his furnishings with materials that will no longer exist in the future, including industrial plastic. “Which Théophile treats as if it were the ivory of the future,” the gallerists say. “Because his mind is already reaching into 2050.”