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Beauty Does Still Matter

A lot of big ideas are dominating design fairs and discussions of late. And that’s great.  But it is also good to occasionally see something that is just genuinely beautiful.  Time and again the Dutch Invertuals team put together a show that resonates with an intense beauty. They did it again in Milan with Untouchables Retouched.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 24-04-2012

This year Invertuals added to their hugely successful showing at last year’s Dutch Design Week on vulnerability with more evolved work from mostly the same group of designers.

“People almost do not notice that we have shaped a society devoid of danger,” says curator Wendy Plomp.  “Nevertheless things happen to us that we can’t control.”

“Untouchables Retouched’’ is a visual dialogue about re-balancing and re-valuating the beauty of vulnerability.

The stand out installation during Dutch Design Week was Jalila Essaïdi.  She decided that Milan was not for her and opted out of this year’s Salone.

Most of the others returned with upgraded versions of their earlier work.  “It all feels more finished and ready,” says Plomp.  “I was really thrilled with what they presented.” favourite Jetske Visser took her work with soot and ran with it.  She likes soot because it is a natural pigment that does not fade or alter in direct sunlight  “It always stays black,” she says, “and that is hard to do.”

Along with her earlier oil lamp she created a working table.  Placed on a burnt steel (black) frame she made a tabletop from carbon mixed with Arabic gum.

By itself the table is beautiful – cracked and flat like a dessert, but when water is spread over the tabletop, the gum dissolves creating a pigment that can be used to die fabric or even write with.

“Chinese people used the same method to make ink tablets,” Visser says.

Plomp says that Visser plans to design her soot-dyed textiles into garments.  “She has been experimenting, but it wasn’t yet ready to exhibit – hopefully next time,” she says.

Plomp also mentions that the mood in Milan was noticeably more sober this year but the response to “Untouchables Retouched” was positive.

“I think people have really gotten bored of seeing chair, chair, chair,” Plomp says.  “When they come in here they say ‘Wow. This is what we come to Milan to see.  It’s design, but it’s different.’”

Each of the objects Plomp selects for her shows possesses a passion as well as a strong narrative that visitors always respond to.

Untouchables Retouched participants: Daphna Laurens, Edhv, Mieke Meijer, Raw Color, Jetske Visser, Jeroen Wand, Maurizio Montalti, Kirstie van Noort, Susana Camara & Mike Thompson, Adrien Petrucci, Paul Heijnen.

Images by Raw Colour and video by Bart Hess.

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