Critics’ Picks

View of “Martino Gamper,” 2015

View of “Martino Gamper,” 2015


Martino Gamper

MUSEION of Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano
Piazza Piero Siena Platz 1
June 6–September 13, 2015

Industrial designer Martino Gamper is known for a nonconformist approach that often seems more befitting an artist. Some of his most renowned furniture is made from recycled parts of other pieces, whether chairs abandoned on the street or rare creations by Giò Ponti and Carlo Mollino.

“Design is a State of Mind,” which also traveled to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London and the Pinacoteca Agnelli in Turin, has now arrived at its third and final venue. It reveals Gamper in his triple role as designer, curator, and connector of a vast group of friends and collaborators. The exhibition’s formula is simple: Shelves sourced from the 1930s onward (design classics, unique pieces, hybrid sculpture-furniture by Gamper himself) offer up objects from the collections of various individuals connected to Gamper. These collections are as unusual as they are fascinating: an assortment of bricks of every shape and material, collected by Maki Suzuki; wooden spoons that come from all over the world, assembled by Jason Evans; an assortment of tools with bizarre functions, put together by Andrew Stafford (one such device apparently “protects uniforms when the buttons are polished”). These shelves and objects, together, celebrate both design in every possible aspect (whether made anonymously or by known authors, archaic or recent, elitist or mass-produced) and the broader human attitude toward making, using, trading, and collecting objects. The “culture of design” rediscovers its most profound meaning and worth: that of a practical knowledge, which binds together form, function, and aesthetic, allowing man to inhabit and navigate the world.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.