Kukje Gallery is pleased to present its first exhibition of work by the critically lauded Dutch designer Joris Laarman. Widely known for his exquisite furniture designs such as the Bone Chair and Starlings Table, Laarman’s work has been celebrated internationally as heralding bold new trends in design and fabrication.
In 2008, having only recently graduated from the Dutch Eindhoven Academy, Laarman exhibited his Bone Chair and Bone Chaise at the Museum of Modern Arts’s (MoMA) exhibition “Design and the Elastic Mind” and the Museum subsequently acquired the chair for its permanent collection — a tremendous honor for such a young artist. What makes Laarman such a groundbreaking designer is his broad interests and willingness to push both the conceptual and formal boundaries of design. He does this by merging cutting edge research and technology in 3-D modeling and the life sciences creating a hybrid approach that has been remarkably successful. His Bone Chair, for example, was designed using new computer algorithms that allowed him to model the proportions of naturally occurring growth such as in bones and trees. The algorithm, originally used by the German car industry, enabled him to reduce and strengthen his designs by optimizing material allocation, weight and stability, while minimizing material input. In his own words, Laarman sculpts “using mother nature’s underlying codes.”
What makes the Bone Chair series so successful is the way it integrates elegant lines and compelling inspiration with a powerful and provocative form. The chair was catalyzed first by Laarman's interest in the technology and the very complex problem of building the chair, but as the idea became a reality, the designer returned to the natural qualities of a living thing and the importance of balance. This inspiring synthesis of digital processes and traditional inspiration has led Paola Antonelli, senior curator of design and architecture at MoMA to argue that Laarman is a new kind of designer reflecting both the power of innovation and the "organic tradition" that goes back to Art Nouveau.
While each of his designs bears the hallmarks of advanced technology, they are at the same time exquisitely crafted hand finished objects that reflect the attention to detail of fine art and sculpture. This intersection of highly refined aesthetics and paradigm breaking concept is what has marked Laarman as such an international trendsetter and why his approach has garnered so much praise. Not content to rest on his early successes however, Laarman’s design strategy relies heavily on constant experimentation, trial and error. It is this pursuit of new compelling ideas that underlies his choice to call his studio the Joris Laarman Lab. Indeed, the idea of a laboratory perfectly frames the work of Laarman, who has noted, “When scientists make use of the freedom and emotional creativity of artists, and artists make use of the skill and discipline of scientists, great things can happen.”
It is Laarman’s characterization of his studio as being like a laboratory in addition to his intellectual curiosity and attention to detail that inspired the Wall Street Journal to award him its inaugural Designer of the Year distinction in 2011. In its announcement the WSJ wrote that it is Joris Laarman's prescient ability to "seamlessly meld the invisible logic of science with the ornamental nature of design" and his "mapping out a bold new aesthetic with robots and 3-D printers" that merited this prestigious prize and make him such an important new figure in creative problem solving and aesthetic innovation.
The current exhibition at Kukje Gallery will include the Bone Chair, Bone Chaise, and Bone Armchair, Bone Rocker, Branch Bookshelf, Bridge Table, Leaf Table in addition to his stunning new Forest Table series.
About Joris Laarman
Joris Laarman was born in the Netherlands in 1979, and graduated cum laude from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2003. While still in school he created the “heatwave radiator,” a design widely-lauded and incorporated into museum collections such as the Cooper-Hewitt and Fonds national d’art contemporain, Puteaux, France. In 2004, he received Wallpaper’s “Young Designer of the Year” award, and in the same year established his studio and laboratory. He has since received the Red Dot Design Award (2006), the Woon Award (2007), the Elle Deco International Design Award (2008), and the “Innovator of the Year” award by the Wall Street Journal (2011). He has collaborated with Flos, Vitra, Swarovski, and Droog.
His work has been exhibited internationally and can be found in major public collections worldwide including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Groninger Museum, Netherlands; the Art Institute of Chicago; the High Museum, Atlanta; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany. The artist currently lives and works in the Netherlands.