A growing hallmark of the artworks offered by 57 dealers from 12 countries at SOFA NEW YORK 2011 is their synthesis of art and design, the past and present, high concept and virtuosity of materials. Design, technology and globalization bring people and environments of many cultures together. Personifying this trend are the 6 ft tall porcelain vessels by Sin-ying Ho, a Hong Kong-Chinese ceramist living in North America, which will greet SOFA NEW YORK visitors at the entrance to the fair. Represented by Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, Ho spent many months in the Chinese porcelain center of Jingdezhan learning how to create and decorate life-sized, single-fired vessels, which reference not only the age-old royal blue Qing Hua porcelain tradition but also contemporary culture. For example “In the Dream of Hope” features hundreds of painted flowers juxtaposed with digital transfer-printed images of stock market index charts, which Ho says was inspired by the onset of the global economic crisis.
Also new this year on the design front, Jack Lenor Larsen, internationally renowned designer, author, and collector presents the 1st annual LongHouse Reserve Special Recognition Awards for Best Artwork in Show, and Best Booth Design at SOFA NEW YORK. Larsen's name is synonymous with twentieth-century textiles. Internationally known, he is one of only four Americans honored with a retrospective at the Palais Du Louvre, Paris. LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, New York is Larsen's public exhibition space, arboretum and sculpture garden. Larsen will select the LongHouse Reserve Special Recognition Award recipients in both categories on Wednesday afternoon prior to the Opening Night Preview, and name them at the Designer Breakfast (see last paragraph for breakfast details.)
Design highlights at the fair include: Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia presents the anthropomorphic furniture of young Vivian Beer, who says anthropomorphism is “central to the development of the domestic landscape. The objects we use are part of how we form identity through recognition of difference and the physical manifestations of social codes. They become both children and predecessors to our intimate experience and we live together on a spectrum between ergonomics and image, play and use, intimacy and performance.” Beer combines contemporary design, sculptural aesthetics and fine craftsmanship. She is a graduate of Maine College of Art, received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and recently completed a three-year residency at Penland School of Craft.
Berengo Studio 1989, Murano, Italy presents sculptures in blown glass by Kiki van Eijk, a new generation contemporary Dutch designer working with traditional Venetian glass techniques, who layers concept, material, structure, and technique in striking combinations. Berengo will also present works by van Eijk’s life and studio partner, Joost van Bleiswijk who reinterprets ‘forgotten objects’ with a contemporary design aesthetic: “I’m mainly influenced by the history of architecture and design (or crafts and art pieces) from the earliest time till about the beginning of previous century.” However, despite referencing the past, he is not a follower: ”If you design by following trends, you would be too late, not original and it would be boring for you.” He adds, “If we all design, create and buy in a personal and original way, a more sustainable, ecologic and personal world arises.” Don’t miss van Eijk and van Bleiswijk’s videos chronicling their design and process at work in Murano in the new MAD Video Lounge on the SOFA showfloor, designed by New York architect, David Ling.
New to SOFA, Love Wood Gallery Antwerp, Belgium presents Northern Ireland’s h.ollary.b, a leader in exploring the possibilities of contemporary functional object art. She calls her work “intuitive sculptural art,” some of which incorporates a functional dimension. She stresses she is not an artist making furniture, nor a furniture maker making art; she is an artist creating art which is furniture. Part of the meaning of her pieces is dependent on them being furniture and part of their form is dependent upon them being art. She defines her work as ‘Stand On Art’, as it can stand on its own as concept on the one hand, and as object on the other. She asks the cogent question, “Why have furniture when you can have art?” and has presented at leading art galleries and fairs across Europe including London, Paris, Milan and Zurich.
Also new to SOFA is Arzenal from Prague, offering collaborative works between Czech designer Borek Sipek and design notables Ron Arad, Oscar Tusquets, Nanda Vigo, Shigeru Uchida, Alberto Meda, Andrea Branzi and Toshiyuki Kita. Each has designed a limited edition glass object especially for SOFA NY. A spokesperson for the gallery says, “Borek Sipek is a designer whose main passion is glass art, and he has dedicated his work to this medium exclusively. This led him to work closely with a team of highly skilled glassblowers in Northern Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Sipek assembled and installed the team in a newly built glass studio with the most advanced glassmaking machinery. Their extraordinary skill inspired Borek to approach designers of his generation to design objects, and together create a collection of unique pieces. All the (above-mentioned) designers have significantly influenced design in the modern era; they know each other well and respect each others’ work, and their combined talent results in an inspired body of art.”
Cynthia Reeves Project, New York presents furniture artist and sculptor Jaehyo Lee. Lee works in natural materials and steel as his primary media while emphasizing his material’s most essential nature and inherently complex textures. In working with predominately unadulterated wood, the artist's hand is most overtly seen through the sculpture's form, often smooth, geometric shapes such as wooden spheres and conical pillars. When working in charred wood and nails, however, the sculpture's forms become the more organic element of the work, contrasted against the high drama of velvety black burnt wood and highly polished burnished steel.
David Richard Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM presents acclaimed sculptural design objects by famed 82 year-old artist Peter Chinni. From Mt. Kisco, NY where he was born to Calabrian parents in 1928, to New York City, to Rome, and then back and forth for some years— and now from Taos, NM where he lives and works, Chinni's large- and small-scale works have found collectors and collections all over the globe, from the Rockefellers to the shah of Iran, and from the Whitney Museum of American Art to the Hirshhorn Museum to the Chase Manhattan Bank in Rome. His sleek three-dimensional abstractions show Italian influences with hints of Futurism, and often feature Chinni’s signature interlocking design elements.
Schantz Galleries, Stockbridge, MA will present new pieces by Dante Marioni, whose work is influenced by Venetian glassmaking, with a 20th century twist: "In the 1930's and 40's, there were some really fabulous works made by some architects and product designers who went to Venice to work," Marioni explains. "A lot of that work continues to be a source of inspiration for me.” Drawing on ancient Greek and Etruscan pottery forms, Marioni calls his work “post-modern sculptures that refer to vessels.” Distinguished by his elegant geometry and rich, saturated colors, Marioni’s work is collected by many top world museums including the Smithsonian Institution; the White House Crafts Collection; the
Carnegie Museum of Art; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
William Zimmer Gallery, Mendocino, CA presents the artful furniture of Kent Townsend, who says: “I draw inspiration from Asian arts and the work of some of the great designers as well as makers of the past, such as Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann and Edward Barnsley. My current work plays back to the great tradition of work from the 1920 Art Deco Movement in which furniture was elevated to its highest level of technical skill and refined form.”
Townsend studied furniture making at the College of the Redwoods in Northern California, where he learned traditional cabinet making techniques and hand skills, and explored complex forms and veneering techniques. His education continued at Capellagarden in Sweden, a school with a long history of fine craftsmanship and design.
Lacoste Gallery, Concord MA brings seminal Scandinavian design to SOFA with extraordinary near-paper thin, slip cast porcelain cylinders by Denmark’s famed Bodil Manz, which are so translucent that light and shadow pass through both walls of her vessels. Manz applies geometrical patterned decals on both sides, so that the pattern of one playfully overshadows the other. Born in Copenhagen, Manz studied ceramics at the School of Arts & Craft in Copenhagen, then at the Escuelo de Diseno y Artesanias in Mexico and Berkeley University in California. Her work is represented in the National Museum of Sweden, the Danish Museum of Decorative Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
On Thursday, April 14, the 4th annual SOFA NEW YORK Designer Breakfast Preview and panel discussion at SOFA NEW YORK will be moderated by Greg Cerio, editor of “Modern,” and feature the highly acclaimed modernist designers Alexander Gorlin, Amy Lau, and Juan Montoya. The topic is “Contemporary Design Viewpoints: Where Do We Go From Here?” Gorlin, Lau and Montoya are co-chairs of the SOFA National Design Committee joined by Jamie Drake, Nancy Epstein, Steven Gambrel, David Ling, Joyce and Maya Romanoff and many other top designers.
Downloadable high-resolution press images, releases, and online press credentials form available in the SOFA NEW YORK 2011 Press Room at www.sofaexpo.com/press.
SOFA NEW YORK 2011 will open April 14 – 17th at the Park Avenue Armory, Park Ave. at 67th
Street. Opening Night, Wednesday, April 13: Invitation-only 5-7pm; Public Preview 7-9pm,
Tickets: $100.00. Opening Night attendees may also support New York’s Museum of Arts and
Design (MAD) by purchasing a ticket to attend a private dinner in the Armory’s Tiffany Room
beginning at 6pm. To purchase dinner tickets call 212-299-7712. New Collectors, Young Designer
Night: Friday, April 15, 6:00-8:30 pm. $35 tickets include all-day Friday admission and are
available at the door. Exposition hours: Thursday, April 14: 11am-7pm; Friday, April 15: 11am-
6pm; Saturday, April 16: 11am-7pm; and Sunday, April 17: Noon-6pm. Tickets are $25 for a
single day of general admission and $40 for a four-day pass; both include catalog. For general
information, visit www.sofaexpo.com; call 800-563-SOFA (7632) or 312-587-7632; or email