Traditional design techniques ‘alive and well’ at Paris exhibition

Traditional design techniques ‘alive and well’ at Paris exhibition

Old and new were brought together in this exhibition at the GSL gallery in Paris, which celebrated contemporary creatives observing the design traditions of the past.

Le Salon de Septembre was the inaugural exhibition to be held at GSL Gallery, a factory-turned-art space in the Patines district of Paris run by the creative collective The Guild of Saint Luke.

Guided by the tagline “Re-Mastering the Past,” the group thought it appropriate for the show to highlight the fact that traditional design techniques are “very much alive and well.”

The exhibition showcases contemporary designers who observe the design traditions of the past

“These techniques are being adopted by young avant-garde artists and designers around the world to create new forms that can also be read in the context of the history of decorative art,” the group’s founder, John Whelan, told Dezeen.

“This is a personal opinion but I believe that artworks and design pieces that reference the past draw from our roots, which are the foundation and life force of our culture – works that attempt to break free from the past can often seem ‘disconnected’ and meaningless despite their valiant efforts.” To create a new language.

Pieces include this stainless steel daybed from Olivia Posey

A mix of established and emerging creatives contributed essays to the exhibition, which was curated by Whelan and interior architect Edgar Guyette.

On the ground floor of the gallery, a black wood and stainless steel daybed by Australian designer Olivia Posey stands next to a gleaming aluminum lamp from designer Max Cobolov.

This was based on the working style of the Weiner Werkstätte – a modernist Austrian design studio established in 1903 by the painter Koloman Moser, the architect Joseph Hofmann, and the patron Fritz Wehrendorfer.

The glass showcase includes a Quirol-shaped chair designed by Edgar Gayet and a 19th-century bento box.

A vitrine in the same room contains an ornate bento box from 19th-century Japan and a raw aluminum bench designed by co-curator Gayette.

This provided a reinterpretation of the seat of kyol, which was used by powerful magistrates in ancient Rome.

Upstairs in the gallery’s mezzanine floor, a chair by Seoul-based designer Kim Byungseob was on display.

While its seat is made of finely finished steel, its backrest features najeonchilgi: a historic Korean craftsmanship technique in which mother-of-pearl motifs are inlaid onto painted surfaces.

The mezzanine of the exhibition displays the najeonchilgi chair designed by Kim Byungsub

Other items on this level included a walnut veneer lounge chair by London-based artist E. J. R. Barnes, designed to emulate “turn-of-the-century European grandeur.”

There was also a black ash, steel and felt pendant light by London-based designer Joe Armitage, who took his cues from a floor lamp created by his architect grandfather Edward Armitage in 1952.

Nearby is a walnut veneer lounge chair by EJR Barnes

A collection of paintings, prints and engravings served as the backdrop for the pieces in the exhibition. These nodded to the exhibition design for the 1903 edition of the Salon d’Automne, an art exhibition held in Paris every year.

“My curatorial partner, Edgar Gayet, and I were particularly interested in the avant-garde spirit of the original Salon d’Automne, which was controversial in its day, as it showed the Fauvists, Cubists, and Futurists, as well as Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier in the show,” Whelan explained.

“Archival photographs of the original gallery in 1903 have greatly influenced the scenography of our works, with an ebony oak glass front and a shelf above which artworks are hung in a crumbling flip-flop style.”

This suspension light by Joe Armitage also comes as part of the exhibition

Like Salon d’Automne, Le Salon de Septembre will now become an annual event at the GSL show.

“We hope to provide an annual glimpse into the zeitgeist in art and design, showcasing artists and designers exploring heritage as a means of contemporary inspiration,” Whelan concluded.

Before GSL Gallery opens in early 2023, The Guild of Saint Luke specializes in reviving historic interiors and creating new designs.

Previous projects include Nolinski, an Art Deco restaurant in the French capital, and Maison Francois, an elegant brasserie in London that evokes the architecture of Ricardo Bofill.

Photography by Celia Spenard-Coe.

Le Salon de Septembre was held at 27 rue Jacques Cotin, Pantin, Paris, from September 15 to October 6. Check out Dezeen’s events guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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