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Emma Scully Gallery presents Rafael Prieto’s emotive connotations in furniture design
Rafael Prieto’s ‘Together Over Time’ on view
Image: Joe Kramm

Emma Scully Gallery presents Rafael Prieto’s emotive connotations in furniture design

The designer’s solo exhibition 'Together Over Time' in Manhattan, presents objects that are a meld of several natural materials.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : May 28, 2023

It is perhaps the plurality of fortuitously configured colours, materials and textures in objects built by Mexican designer Rafael Prieto—for his solo exhibition Together Over Time at New York-based Emma Scully Gallery—that radiate a calmness absent from furniture and industrial design items that are cleanly chiselled. The gallery describes Prieto’s show as “a poetic showcase of aesthetic happenstance.” Stone, cast glass, wood and ceramic inlay, juxtaposed roughly against one another in the visage of tables, lamps, stools, benches and sculptures, allude to this description. On view from April 6 to June 3 2023, at the US-based art gallery, the exhibition presents nine works by Rafael Prieto, founder and creative director of the creative studio Savvy. “Through the view of a solo show, a room that is all Rafael's, visitors will be able to understand the magic of his unique perspective on the emotive connotations and evocative depths of design,” shares Emma Scully, founder of the Manhattan-based eponymous gallery.

Together Over Time marks Prieto’s debut solo exhibition. Sitting at the intersection of emotion and perception, the furniture and sculptures displayed at the gallery are pragmatically shaped, yet they encapsulate inklings of different natural materials, the glimpse of which is enough to transpose the viewers to a serene space. Sharing the origin and founding principle behind the showcase, Prieto shares, “Going through each day, observantly and present in the natural world.” An excerpt from the exhibition text states, “The show's title, ‘Together Over Time,’ is a homage to an interconnected way of thinking from ‘A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity’ by Mexican-American writer, artist and philosopher Manuel DeLanda. Prieto’s work interacts with this theory through the idea of how art is the result of chance, chaos, and ultimately – life itself.”

Apart from the collocation of pellucid and opaque materials next to each other, and the contrast of dark colours with lighter hues, it is the elegant placement of seats, tables and sculptures in the gallery space that welcomes visitors to navigate their way through them in multitudinous ways, and for them to form interpretations about the arrangement and the objects. “I see this as a concrete poem or haiku – something for others to engage with and feel connected to, as I do,” shares Prieto.

Amongst the pieces displayed at the American gallery is a coffee table, two side tables, the Marrow lamp, two upholstered stools, an upholstered bench, and two sculptures. The coffee table and side tables—developed in collaboration with Emma Scully Gallery—are made from cast glass, stone and ceramic inlays done by Atelier Lips. “Making was slow and intensive – it’s an honour for the gallery to be a conduit for Rafael’s creative intuition, through showing his artistic practice and through the production of the three tables on view. We have been working intimately together for over six months on production – in conjunction with local craftspeople – to capture his vision for this show. The result is a unique expression of his artistic and poetic output,” shares Emma Scully.

While Prieto’s Marrow light is part of his ongoing project in partnership with New York-based artist Loup Sarion, the upholstered stools and bench are an extension of the designer’s furniture collection with Spoliâ. The two sculptures serve as intellectual throughlines of the exhibition. While one of the sculptures is a pedestal sculpted from stone, glass and wood, the other is a kite-like lamp, developed in collaboration with Indian artist and fashion designer Kritika Manchanda. The lamp, made out of raw organic cotton, hangs from the ceiling by a rope, with a stone acting as the counterweight.

“I spent a lot of my childhood and younger years at my family's ranch in Chihuahua, in the north of Mexico, with a lot of empty hours. What I perceived as boredom then, I now see as contemplation. Observing the world around me, I would stare at the elements until they acquired a different form or meaning. When you immerse yourself into your environment and merge your perception with it, it can become something very special,” the designer explains. As evident in the designer’s showcase in Manhattan, Prieto is known for building objects and sculptures that evoke wonder and that ensure a calm around them. The Marrow light fixtures and the several tables dotting the gallery space present a balanced combination of the ethereal and the pragmatic.

Rafael Prieto’s ‘Together Over Time’ is on view from April 6 to June 3, 2023, at the Emma Scully Gallery in New York, United States.

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