Miami is an art and culture hub, bringing together some of the most accomplished works in unique ways. Launching on April 8, THE OFFICE. is proud to announce its partnership with renowned design group, Memphsis Milano.
The exhibition, Unusual Perception, also includes the works of Eduardo Sarabia, Thrush Holmes, Alyss Estay, Maru Jensen and Adam Rabinowitz. Running until June 12, this exhibition is truly pushing boundaries and redefining contemporary art.
Ocean Drive had the chance to catch up with the masterminds behind the Design District’s contemporary art gallery and showroom, THE OFFICE.’s Matthew Chevallard, as well as the team at Memphsis Milano to talk all about this exciting new partnership.
This is THE OFFICE.’s debut with Memphis Milano, how did this partnership come about?
Yes, it’s our debut partnership with Memphis Milano, although we have admired the noteworthy design studio for a while. It initially started with a fond appreciation for Ettorre Sottsass, the mastermind behind the Memphis Group. Given Matthew’s Italian roots, Ettore has always been some form of topic of discussion within his circles. From the inception of the gallery, we started introducing a few pieces by Sottsass in parts of the space for our own enjoyment. It’s no surprise that guests would continuously comment how beautiful the pieces were and it was clear how well the pieces fit with our environment, especially being in Miami - they’re so bright and organic, extremely unique to the Memphis style.
After purchasing several pieces (chairs, tables, side tables and lamps), we eventually visited the Memphis Milano studio, where our relationship began. We met Alberto Bianchi Albrici, the owner and managing director of Memphis Milano since 1996, who knew Ettore well and worked at Memphis practically since its inception. The relationship was very organic and the idea to introduce Memphis Milano at our gallery came about during our many conversations with Alberto. There was a mutual respect there and a common love for design and from there it made perfect sense to add their pieces to our showroom concept at THE OFFICE.
What is your curation process? In particular, what was your curation process for this exhibition?
We wanted to focus on highlighting new bodies of work from some of our existing artists while also taking the opportunity to showcase a few new artists that we are thrilled about. As huge fans of Ettore Sottsass, we selected works that gave us the same excitement as Ettore’s work, with similar sparks of striking and captivating hues. It was important for us to showcase a wide range of styles, from figurative to abstract, works with textures and organic configurations/structures.
Can you describe the exhibit's title, “Unusual Perceptions”?
We take a lot of inspiration from the legendary Ettore Sottsass. The title comes from one of our favorite quotes of Ettore, “Decoration can be a state of mind, an unusual perception, a ritual whisper.” This particular group show brought on an opportunity to really create our own expression of what Memphis Milano and the movement means to Matt and I. Therefore we selected various works from a handful of artists, both new and existing to THE OFFICE., that we felt best encapsulated our “Unusual Perception” of the movement and the overall sentiment that the design studio’s pieces bring to us.
How do you think Memphis Milano’s work differs from those of which you typically display?
Contrary to past exhibitions we’ve presented at THE OFFICE., this will be our first time showcasing designer furniture, and moreover, our first attempt at a joint exhibition with a blend of furniture and art. We’re thrilled to showcase this blend of practices, as we consider the future of art galleries to be a mix of art and design.
Is there a piece you are most excited about featuring?
It’s impossible to pick just one. We have some beautiful works featured in the group exhibition. Adam Rabinowitz is showcasing a new body of work that he has been perfecting since our last solo exhibition of his work. Alyss Estay is presenting some new works in organic shapes, from her experiments with foam and line weight. We are also thrilled to be presenting a new artist, Maru Jensen, from The Bakehouse Complex, art residencies here in Miami. Although she primarily works in ceramics, we are absolutely captivated by her technique and capability in figurative painting.
This is such an exciting group exhibition. Why Miami?
Yes, we are very excited to be showcasing our pieces in Miami. Ultimately it was the close relationship with Matthew Chevallard that drove us to this partnership. Their love for Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Movement along with their many visits to our showroom in Milan, slowly developed an organic relationship that ultimately led to this debut.
It is really special how well the Memphis movement fits into the Miami environment…. Art Deco was a big influence of Memphis Milano when Ettore Sottsass started the group alongside fellow creatives in 1981. Miami and Art Deco go hand in hand, so of course, Memphis Milano and Miami is no different. The bold and vibrant colors mixed with the organic shapes of our design are perfect for any Miami interior.
This exhibition is bringing together art and furniture, why do you think it is important to display the two simultaneously?
At the foundation of the Memphis Group and Memphis Milano, lies a deep and important appreciation for art. When Ettore Sottsass founded Memphis Milano in 1981, he felt it was essential to the brand to involve many young emerging artists, improving year by year a strong DNA and inimitable codes. Representing a cultural movement, Memphis continues to influence the general audience’s imagination from fashion to art and design.
Then in 1989, Sottsass embarked on an innovative experiment that involved no longer designers, but internationally renowned artists engaged for the first time in the design of objects and furniture. Artists such as Alighiero Boetti, Franz West, Joseph Kosuth, Mimmo Paladino, Lawrence Weiner, Marco Bagnoli, Mathis Esterházy, Sol LeWitt, Bill Woodrow, and Gerhard Merz featured once again in the project, demonstrating that the linguistic and expressive boundaries of industrial design can be questioned.
Meta Memphis developed the philosophical reflection on living that had characterized Memphis, taking it to extremes, producing apparently useless hybrid objects that are both artworks and furnishing accessories.
In other words, Memphis has a long standing relationship with the art world that once again is being appreciated and reflected by THE OFFICE.’s group exhibition “Unusual Perception” that will feature an array of emerging and internationally recognized artists.
How do you see your partnership with THE OFFICE. evolving?
We are thrilled to be working with Matthew and his gallery THE OFFICE. It is very exciting to be showcasing our brand in Miami and hope to continue providing more pieces to be displayed at their gallery, THE OFFICE. in the future.
Photography by: Courtesy Memphis Milano