Best in Show: Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val

Reimag­in­ing plas­tic, Ini Archibong’s Be­low the Heav­ens col­lec­tion for Sé, and more

Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Sa­man­tha Tse mat­terof­

In the four years since Mat­ter of Stuff launched as a web-based re­tail plat­form, founders Si­mona Au­teri and Sofia St­ef­fenoni have grown more am­bi­tious, trans­form­ing their ven­ture into a vir­tual de­sign gallery that fos­ters re­search and tech­nol­ogy. In ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity, both on­line and off, with a se­ries of col­lab­o­ra­tions and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, the duo is lead­ing ma­te­ri­al­ity – no­tably mar­ble and ceram­ics – into new ter­ri­tory. Ex­pand­ing into a phys­i­cal space was a nat­u­ral tran­si­tion. Dur­ing the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val this past fall, Au­teri and St­ef­fenoni un­veiled their Pop Up Con­cept Gallery, hav­ing com­mis­sioned lo­cal stu­dio Raw Edges to trans­form 350 square me­tres of un­fin­ished space at Fen­man House in King’s Cross. “We wanted to di­vide the floor plan up to be able to tell the story of each in­di­vid­ual de­signer as well as [those of] the ma­te­ri­als,” Au­teri ex­plains. “The room is so large and a bit alien­at­ing. We didn’t want to just dis­play fur­ni­ture – we wanted to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence.” The pair has done this so suc­cess­fully that the pop-up has been ex­tended un­til Jan­uary 10. Its pop­u­lar­ity can be at­trib­uted as much to the am­biance as to the con­tents. To re­shape the large, open set­ting into a se­quence of loosely de­fined rooms, Raw Edges (which was founded by Yael Mer and Shay Al­ka­lay) hung “walls” of wooden dow­els from the ceil­ing with blue string, im­bu­ing the aus­tere space with warmth and tex­ture in the process. “Other ma­te­ri­als were pro­posed, but we thought the wood was more sus­tain­able and could have a sec­ond life,” says St­ef­fenoni, who added that, after the pop-up closes, the wood will be do­nated to the Cam­ber­well Col­lege of Arts. As for the con­tents, the dis­plays are a heady mix of ma­te­ri­als and ideas. Works in­clude Bocci’s stretched and folded 87 lights and Bohinc Stu­dio’s Pomo-in­spired So­lar, Or­bit and Lu­nar chairs. The perime­ter walls, mean­while, serve as over­sized mood boards. Ce­ramic and mar­ble sam­ples are on dis­play to ed­u­cate vis­i­tors about ma­te­ri­al­ity and to in­spire col­lab­o­ra­tions dur­ing talks and events in the venue. The mar­ble dis­plays, for ex­am­ple, high­light var­i­ous tech­niques (in­clud­ing in­lay and ma­chined sur­faces), while the ceram­ics in­clude iconic tiles by Gio Ponti and Fer­rag­amo. “It’s re­ally about cre­at­ing an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore not only the ob­jects but the con­cepts,” says St­ef­fenoni. “It’s a layer we could only add with a phys­i­cal space.”

The founders of Mat­ter of Stuff col­lab­o­rated with an­other Lon­don duo, Raw Edges, on the for­mer’s King’s Cross pop-up gallery (left). Items on show in­cluded Bohinc Stu­dio’s Or­bit din­ing chair (above) and Made in Ra­tio’s Fo­cus ta­ble and Corie chair (top).

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