Mundane materials re-invented at London’s Aram Gallery


Extra Ordinary

Founded in 2002 by one of my most admired design-thinking role models, Daniel Charny, and far-sighted designer-retailer Zeev Aram, London's Aram Gallery has on multiple occasions introduced me to truly fascinating work that I hadn’t yet seen elsewhere. The exhibition space’s current offering, Extra Ordinary, continues the tradition with a presentation of young designers’ experimentations with ordinary, everyday materials, like corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap, and ten-cent coins.

Extra Ordinary exhibition at Aram Gallery; © Alessandra Amandine Extra Ordinary exhibition at Aram Gallery; © Alessandra Amandine

Take Mouldings by RCA-grads Soft Baroque, for example, a table that makes use of cheap, pine architraves and trims typically used to ornament the walls of traditional-style interiors and abundantly available at any hardware store. “By gluing together short lengths of pine quadrant mouldings,” explains the exhibition catalogue, “the designers found they could be arranged into two sinuous plinths, strong enough to hold a glass top.” The result is much more contemporary than wood moldings usually achieve.

Mouldings Table by Soft Baroque, created from hardware-shop-sourced wood architectural moldings Mouldings Table by Soft Baroque, created from hardware-shop-sourced wood architectural moldings

Other standouts include RCA-trained architect-designer Rachel Harding’s Wonderfluro wall lamps—which unite laser-cut aluminum, fluorescent tubes, and spectrum glass to magical effect—and Madrid-based experimental designer Jorge Penadés’s Structural Skin, which offers up a new kind of structural material composed of leather industrial remnants.

Wonderfluro by Rachel Harding, in which spectrum glass elevates standard fluorescent tubes Wonderfluro by Rachel Harding, in which spectrum glass elevates standard fluorescent tubes

Structural Skin by Jorge Penadés, a new raw material made from leather industrial remnants Structural Skin by Jorge Penadés, a new raw material made from leather industrial remnants

Structural Skin by Jorge Penadés Structural Skin by Jorge Penadés

All the imaginative, propositional projects on view in Extra Ordinary deserve attention, because, as curator Riya Patel explains: "This mix of 14 international designers have all found extraordinary ways of working with materials, products, or processes that most of us consider ordinary. Whether through object, lighting, furniture, or jewelry, they have a common ground in questioning attitudes [toward] value and beauty, seeing potential where it has been overlooked, and proposing alternative directions for craft and industry."

Cutting Edge Sofa by Martijn Rigters, fabricated in polystyrene using a hot wire cutter Cutting Edge Sofa by Martijn Rigters, fabricated in polystyrene using a hot wire cutter

Cardboard Stool by Luisa Kahlfeldt, composed of rolled-up laminated corrugated cardboard Cardboard Stool by Luisa Kahlfeldt, composed of rolled-up laminated corrugated cardboard

Neolastic by Ying Chang, made of heat-shrunk bubble wrap Neolastic by Ying Chang, made of heat-shrunk bubble wrap

PPPPP by Silo Studio, an experimental use of pressed polypropylene paper pulp PPPPP by Silo Studio, an experimental use of pressed polypropylene paper pulp

Recreate Textiles Bowl by Krupka Stieghan Studio, composed of cotton yarn remnants Recreate Textiles Bowl by Krupka Stieghan Studio, composed of cotton yarn remnants

Re-Engineering Desire by Roisin Johns, a collection of jewelry created from discarded materials found in landfills, skips, and factory refuse Re-Engineering Desire by Roisin Johns, a collection of jewelry created from discarded materials found in landfills, skips, and factory refuse

Duct Work Stools by David Steiner, in galvanized steel, on view at Aram Gallery until August 22, 2015 Duct Work Stools by David Steiner, in galvanized steel, on view at Aram Gallery until August 22, 2015

 * All images courtesy of Aram Gallery

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