Best in Show: London Design Festival
Reimagining plastic, Ini Archibong’s Below the Heavens collection for Sé, and more
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).