Surrealism and design on display at London’s Design Museum

by HomeDecorBeauty

Surrealism had a major influence on the design world. Originating in the 1920s, the movement not only revolutionized art, but had a significant impact on various fields from decorative arts and furniture to interiors, fashion, photography and film. From October 14, and until February 19, 2023, the Design Museum in London will host the exhibition “Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today” which traces the history of Surrealism and its influence on design.

The exhibition will cover almost a hundred years and is divided into four sections: everyday objects, interior design, fashion and the body, and the mind. About 350 objects will be exhibited, including paintings, sculptures, photographs and clothing. The exhibition will also feature some of the world’s most famous surrealist works, such as Salvador Dali s lobster phone, Man Ray se The gift (Le Cadeau) and Marcel Duchamps Porte-Bouteilles. Most of the objects in the exhibition come from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, which produced the exhibition, while other pieces come from private collections and important institutions such as the Tate and the Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts.
The exhibition begins by examining the 1920s, the origins of Surrealism, when design played an important role in the evolution of the movement. It was indeed from everyday objects that early artists likeDalí, Magritte, Meret Oppenheim and Man Ray inspired. From the 1940s, on the other hand, it was the designers who drew inspiration from surrealist art to create surprising and humorous objects. The exhibition will also include a focus on the United Kingdom, concentrating on some important pieces of Surrealist interior design created on British soil, as well as the influence the movement had on fashion from the 1930s.
In addition to presenting Surrealist art, the exhibition will highlight the movement’s influence on contemporary designers. For example, sketches by contemporary designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec will be exhibited, as well as examples of Sketch furniture, tracked by the hand and body of the designer in the air using motion capture. The shapes drawn in this way are translated into a digital file and then 3D printed to create functional furniture. The exhibition offers a fascinating insight into how surrealist ideas shaped the world of design and continue to influence contemporary artists and designers, with one third of the objects on display created in the last fifty years.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Images courtesy of The Design Museum London

Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today
A Vitra Design Museum exhibition
Date: 14 October 2022 – 19 February 2023
Location: the Design Museum London, UK

Compiled by
From the Design Museum, London – Kathryn Johnson (Curator), Tiya Dahyabhai (Assistant Curator)
From the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein Dr. Mateo Kries (Director, Vitra Design Museum), Tanja Cunz (Assistant Curator, Vitra Design Museum)
Exhibit 2D Design: Violetta Boxhill

Caption and credits

01 Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone, 1938. Photo West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, DACS 2022
02 Tour, 1993, Gae Aulenti, produced by FontanaArte, Glass; bicycle wheels. Vitra Design Museum
03 Schiaparelli, Look 6 Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2021. Courtesy of Schiaparelli
04 Mary Katrantzou, Typewriter’s Printed Silk Dress, 2018. Courtesy of Mary Katrantzou
05 Wall plates no. 116 from the series Tema e Variazioni [Theme and Variations], after 1950, Piero Fornasetti, Silkscreen on porcelain. Fornasetti Archive
06 Armchair, circa 1962, Pedro Friedeberg, Production of this specimen: c. 1965, Carved mahogany. Vitra Design Museum
07 Horse lamp, 2006, Preliminary design, Manufactured by Moooi BV, Breda /Netherlands, Plastic; metal. Vitra Design Museum
08 Salvador Dalí and Edward James, Mae West’s Lips sofa, c. 1938. Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust, Brighton and Hove. © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, DACS 2022
09 Man Ray, Ingres’ violin (Le Violon d’Ingres), 1924. © Man Ray 2015 Trust/DACS, London 2022
10 Porca Miseria!, 2019 edition of 1994 design, Ingo Maurer, Steel; porcelain. Vitra Design Museum

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