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Elen Pouhaer
Entretien | 27 août

The form of things to come
At La Gaîté Lyrique, an exhibition curated by Lidewij Edelkoort offers a crystal ball on the future of design.

To select the creations featured in the exhibition “Design Oracles” at La Gaîté Lyrique (through August 16, 2015), Lidewij Edelkoort drew upon a veritable treasure trove: the extraordinary reserves of the CNAP (Centre National des Arts Plastiques), some 6,000 archetypal pieces of furniture and decorative objects. The high priestess of design, and founder of the agency Trend Union, Edelkoort reveals to Pluris her vision of the forms of tomorrow.

What is a “design oracle”?

Design is a reflection of its times. Here I thought of it as an oracle shedding light on the metamorphoses of our societies — for example 25 iconic pieces in black imbued with prophetic power, like Konstantin Grcic’s chairs, that speak to us directly, loud and clear, delivering a message about our present, our doubts and our future.

The exhibition is organized around ten themes, including “Abstract,” “Inflated,” “Organic” and “Naive.” How did you decide on this classification?

La Gaîté Lyrique seemed to me the ideal showcase for this exhibition, a setting that offers a striking contrast to the historic collections of the CNAP. Most importantly, I wanted to create an osmosis, establishing links between the two entities in order to conceive a unique exploration of contemporary creative activity. In August 2014 I began compiling a selection of about 500 pieces from the CNAP archives, organizing them as I went in groups according to ideas, forms, materials and symbols. This process of research and discovery led me to define ten realms that overlap, intersect and interact, forming a vast landscape.

And how do they relate to the future?

These themes illustrate the major currents of tomorrow. In all, the exhibition comprises 225 works that outline the scenarios of the future. The wooden pieces with pared-down lines evoke our need to simplify and to slow the pace of our consumption. Other pieces, of naïve inspiration, express our desire for a return to childhood in reaction to this complex era.

One of the themes is “Archaic.” Isn’t that a contradiction in an exhibition about the future?

Not at all. The archaic forms created by the new generation of designers, like Nacho Carbonell or the Formafantasma duo, unite the past, present and future. Their work symbolizes the need for more security and authenticity. People try to get in touch with their roots through a return to the source, with rough-hewn materials evoking the dawn of civilization, perhaps to compensate for the barbarity of the modern world.

What connection do you see between these archaic forms and the new technologies?

Objects in mutation, like the pieces produced by 3D printing, are spawning a futuristic, ever-changing design. And yet their esthetic is often linked to a kind of archaism, with organic or primitive forms that hark back to the origins of life. They seem to predict the breakthroughs in biotechnology, or even to herald a sort of coproduction between mankind and nature.

How do you envision our relationship with design in the future?

The oracles of design convey an upbeat message tinged with playful optimism, a need for flexibility, but also for unity and sharing, a return to origins that allows for better, simpler and more sensible modes of consumption. The object will engage the user in a dialogue, creating strong, intimate bonds.
 “Oracles du Design” (“Design Oracles”), , exhibition at la Gaîté lyrique August 16, 2015.
 © Yves Chenot/CNAP
 © Yves Chenot/CNAP
 © Yves Chenot/CNAP
 © Yves Chenot/CNAP
 © Yves Chenot/CNAP
 © Yves Chenot/CNAP
 © Michel-Alain Barjou/CNAP
 © Agence Patrick Join ID
 © Ikea France
 © Bruno Scotti
Crédits photo : Yves Chenot/CNAP, Thirza Schaap, Michel-Alain Barjou/CNAP, Lisa Klappe/CNAP, Ikea France, Bruno Scotti, Agence Patrick Join ID
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