Despite a unanimous accreditation of most furniture design items under the identity of sculptural objects, there are very few creations that meander close to the artistic boldness usually seen in decorative sculptures. However, an upcoming design exhibition by Voukenas Petrides at United Kingdom-based Gallery FUMI subverts this notion through a series of experimental pieces crafted using gypsum, bronze and aluminium. These objects, crafted by furniture designer Andreas Voukenas and architect Steven Petrides of Voukenas Petrides, will be presented for the first time as part of the Mayfair Design District during the London Design Festival 2022. Under the solo exhibition Haptic Nature, the showcase will remain on display from 17 September to 22 October 2022.
“Steven Petrides and Andreas Voukenas complement each other perfectly. They are both huge talents with an incredible drive. They are always pushing boundaries, doing the near-impossible and somehow making it work,” share Valerio Capo and Sam Pratt, founders of Gallery FUMI. This exhibit, scheduled to be unveiled during the design event, includes a coffee table, a mirror, two standing lamps, a bench, three chairs, and twelve small sculptures.
Voukenas Petrides, a design studio in Athens and New York, combine their creative and analytical skills to create poetic art for indoor spaces. While Voukenas is trained in interior architecture and product design from the Athens University of Applied Science, American designer Steven Petrides studied architecture at Columbia University. After crossing paths, the two designers decided to collaborate with each other. This also lined up with Petrides's move to Greece, in 2014. The product designers now have a studio space in the industrial suburb of Tavros where Voukenas facilitates the production process, while Petrides fashions objects using gypsum.
Voukenas and Petrides, who have been working together for seven years, have carved out a distinct design narrative for themselves. Sculptural in nature, their designs resemble aesthetic evocations of vast ideas and are mostly made of plaster and bronze. The Haptic Nature collection also alludes to this description. Their bronze furniture and sculptures are honed at a foundry located right outside Athens. In keeping with sustainable practices, the designer duo also makes sure that the plaster used to build their sculptures are processed from locally sourced gypsum, which is mined on the Zakynthos island.
Although Voukenas Petrides' designs are heavily influenced by Greek traditions and use vernacular materials, there are clear references to Pollywogs and skunk cabbage from the wetlands of Petrides' hometown, Massachusetts. Despite their diminutive size, their works are influenced by the grandeur and monumentality of remarkable architectural spaces and features. Some of the objects that Voukenas and Petrides regularly design include chairs, tables, stools, colourful totems, and innovative design installations.
Their most recent collection of indoor objects was sculpted at their Athens studio this summer. While all the individual pieces come together to form an admirable series of objects, the most impressive of the lot are, perhaps, the two-metre tall sculpture art light sculptures, plastered in gypsum. They are taller than the average human and appear to be animated animals ready to prowl. Red bronze and aluminium chairs and tables provide a rich aesthetic to the collection.
The gigantic light sculptures are constructed using woven wire mesh. According to the designers, "the framework provides a tripod illusion, while the finished form has an anthropomorphic appeal." Once intact, the structure was covered in wet plaster and left to dry. It was finished off with a layer of polish and sealant. Although shaped like a sturdy column, the kink and opening at the top of the pier makes the piece appear more humane.
The bronze benches, seats, light sculptures, tables, wall sculptures and mirrors all use twisted, turned, or linked cylindrical or tear-tube parts to create visually complex, yet precisely balanced, works of art. The table and mirror, which were cast in aluminium, exhibit Voukenas Petrides' interest in fractal topographies and seashore geology. These artistic creations, characterised by organic and convoluted forms, are easily turned into functional items with the duo’s technical and architectural expertise.
The lamps, sculptures, tables and chairs that make up this unique collection are beguiling items fit for curating a transcendental experience in indoor spaces. These ornamental pieces easily cater to utilitarian needs, and hence, serve as an ideal choice for creating a dynamic and charismatic indoor environment. Some of the pieces displayed at the gallery include Bent Half Tube Bench, Bent Half Tube Chair, Gypsum Light Sculpture 1, Gypsum Light Sculpture 2, Suspended Light Sculpture, Volumetric Chair 1 and Volumetric Chair 2, Volumetric Table, Fotini sculpture, and Wall Sculpture 1 and Wall Sculpture 2.
Voukenas Petrides’s ‘Haptic Nature’ will remain on display from 17 September to 22 October 2022 at Gallery FUMI, London, United Kingdom.
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