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'Design in Metamorphosis': Audrey Large and Théophile Blandet’s paradoxical creations
Exhibition view of Design in Metamorphosis with Audrey Large / Théophile Blandet at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (June 23‒August 13, 2023)
Image: Mathilda Olmi, © Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

'Design in Metamorphosis': Audrey Large and Théophile Blandet’s paradoxical creations

The design exhibition on view at the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève in Switzerland extends on themes of a larger group show exploring facets of metamorphosis. 

by STIRpad
Published on : Jul 24, 2023

Switzerland-based Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève is currently hosting an exhibition titled Design in Metamorphosis, holding the works of French designers Audrey Large and Théophile Blandet. On view from June 23 - August 13, 2023, the show, curated by Barbara Brondi & Marco Rainò, encompasses the unique investigations Large and Blandet have undertaken as part of their respective creative practices. The showcase extends on themes of metamorphosis, and its usage and presence in contemporary design—previously explored by the centre, in the group show Chrysalis: The Butterfly Dream. While immersive exhibitions, performances, screenings, and other special events were included in this larger showcase, the current exhibition, Design in Metamorphosis focuses on the craft that led to the creation of eccentric pieces of art by the two designers.

Audrey Large is a designer who hails from Bordeaux, France, and currently resides in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She graduated with an MA in Social Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven. In her work, Large calls into question the authenticity of what is visible and hence, considered real. Her work straddles visual arts, and material manipulation practices derived from digital cinema, image theory, and three-dimensional printing techniques.

Théophile Blandet is also a French designer who currently lives and works in Rotterdam. He began practising post his graduation in MA Contextual Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2017. His work combines the paradoxical logics pertaining to lucid engineering precision and to amateur devices, and thereafter, conceiving objects bearing the potential of stimulating narratives, and those that exist between fiction and reality. Apart from combining atypical points of inspiration in his work, the designer also melds crafting techniques, where he embarks on deep research into materials, utilising both advanced production techniques and older, more authentic craftsmanship techniques.

Works by Large and Blandet are multilayered, where materials melded upon them are done so using different modes and methods of crafting and creating, some of which have emerged in recent years, while others have stayed on since foregone times. Sitting next to each other in the gallery in Geneva, these objects ‘carry the spores of our material culture and of a society in constant transformation.’ An excerpt from the design exhibition text shared by the gallery relays, “They are prime derivatives of a future that projects itself onto the present, creating a fluid language that—paradoxically—combines polar opposites: intangible and tangible, one-off and reproducible, artisanal and industrial. Large and Blandet both pursue a design process marked by a radical interest in experimentation, and both view the zeitgeist through a lens of alteration, mutation, and change. Their objects show design as an effective tool for representing and manifesting the transitory.”

Large’s objects are characterised by a striking presence, owing to the colours employed. They offer an illusionistic image, one which ‘challenges the reliability of vision and our sense of the tangible.’ From a distance, it is difficult to decipher if the pieces are physically present or digitally projected. This attribute startles the viewer and urges them to question the accepted notions that define and distinguish real and unreal, the physical and the virtual. “These works erode and blur this dichotomy until it becomes wholly irrelevant,” the gallery continues.

Blandet’s works speak of a similar dichotomy, albeit, more subtly. They do not perturb the viewer, but instead, welcome them with the image of an object that is redolent of common furniture and product designs found in everyday life. However, once ushered in, these objects reveal their minor idiosyncrasies, and through them, question the conventional standards of functionality, while also presenting the scope for transformation and metamorphosis.

The exhibition, hence, reveals a series of chrysalis-like bodies, which are not only highly expressive, but also interact with each other in a manner that prompts viewers to reflect on the concept of normative identities, the scope of viewing objects from an alternate lens, and the potential of metamorphosing not only one’s methods and processes to design, but also, in the ways of viewing objects.

The ‘Design in Metamorphosis’ exhibition is on view from June 23 - August 13, 2023, at the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, in Geneva, Switzerland.

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