A series of objects and furniture pieces by Paris-based designer Adrien de Melo are now on display at the Valerie Goodman Gallery in New York City in an exhibition entitled Escaping Gravity.
“For my first show in the US at the Valerie Goodman Gallery, I imagined a series of pieces under the idea of ‘Escaping Gravity’ where more is less,” said de Melo. “I departed from full forms to explore the organic. I focused on hollowing out to expose the essence of the piece. The energy of the forms comes from bare bone architecture or the repetition of a motif.”
For his New York debut, de Melo envisioned himself as a builder high above the streets of the city, fleeing his usual highly structured environments in search of something more organic. “The builder’s dream” results in what de Melo describes as “forms trying to evade determination,” as in the case of his Black Forest Table (which he named after the mythic region where his grandmother lived). The eye moves along the irregular contour of the solid oak tabletop as if encircling a foreign island.
The two lamps named “Colosses” are decidedly more grounded— their large slate bases appear like feet belonging to glowing white onyx legs. For his SOW desk, de Melo placed a reconstituted birch plywood slab with a laminated walnut inlay on top of a support resembling a human rib cage, further exploring his original vision of the organic.
And while the theme of flight is again addressed in his intricate birch "Butterfly" stools, it is with his two mirrors framed by runaway tiles that de Melo most vividly realizes his notion of “escaping gravity."
The designer describes his work as “translating the metaphysical into the physical.” Often, de Melo's thoughts find their first material expression in a lump of clay or plastiline, which he soon transforms into a complex, multifaceted shape. A porcelain vase constructed from fractured planes into a small cubist rock formation reflects his ongoing interest in abstracted nature.
Instead of honing his manual skills at a design school, de Melo graduated from the Sorbonne in Art History and preferred to learn directly from working with engineers and contractors. His gift for bridging the conceptual and the technical positioned him in 2006 to become the trusted interface between the artist Daniel Buren, the architect Frank Gehry and the city of Paris for the multi-million-dollar project where a series of micro-architectures arose along a resurrected early 20th-century tramway.
The exhibition is on display at the Valerie Goodman Gallery at 315 East 91st Street, 4th floor, until November 30.