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Design Philadelphia 2009
With the fall design season in full swing in New York, it is easy to forget that while the city may be the design capital of the country, it is not the only locus of design activities. While attending a wedding in Philadelphia last weekend, I had the chance to walk around the 3rd Street design district. I reconnected with old acquaintances at Mode Moderne and Moderne Gallery, and spoke with Eugenie Perret, proprietor of Minima, a staple of Philadelphia contemporary design, but new to my attention.
Minima handles a stable of contemporary design talent from prominent sources such as Droog and Jasper Morrison, as well as lesser-known designers such as Bannavis Sribyatta and Todd Noe. As the gallery name implies, the collection is tightly edited. It is also artfully presented, laid out in vignettes and room groupings, suggesting how one can decorate and live comfortably with pieces that individually may appear either austere or overly bold. In this, Minima differs from Moss, where the objects are presented in a manner less connected to domestic context.
A few standouts at Minima, shown here, include a Walter Knoll circular sofa by Un Studio backed by a Fortuny lamp and the Algae screen by the Bouroullec brothers; a vignette with a white chair from the Bugatti series by Francois Azambourg below a pair of decorative appliqués by Todd Noe; a room setting with a Jasper Morrison sofa and a free-edged wooden coffee table by local craft shop Bolle Design; a window with a hanging “Smoke” chair by Marten Baas for Moooi; and a green design tête-à-tête by Bannavis Sribyatta of PIE Studio with a Paul Smith silk-screened cabinet behind it.
Across the street from Minima is Moderne Gallery, where owner Bob Aibel is just opening an exhibition called “Early Furniture by George Nakashima, 1936-56—the Architect Designs.” Running through December 24, and including pieces lent by museums and collectors, as well as pieces for sale, this groundbreaking exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on Nakashima’s formative years. As such, it promises to add to the dialogue about Nakashima, whose work Moderne Gallery has been handling for years. Shown here is a custom-made and architectural hi-fi cabinet from 1951.
If this is not enough to draw one to Philadelphia, consider that Design Philadelphia ’09—the fifth installment of this week-long event—began yesterday, and continues through October 13. The full menu of events, exhibitions, lectures, open studios, and workshops can be found at designphiladelphia.org. Highlights include lectures by Phyllis Ross on Gilbert Rohde, and by Mira Nakashima and Bob Aibel on George Nakashima; a panel discussion on design education; “Gimme Shelter,” a competition that produced six temporary structures demonstrating sustainable design and building techniques; and the welcome house, billed as an artist residency by day and an art installation by night.
If this is still not enough, there is always the Liberty Bell and Jim’s Cheesesteak.