These 5 New Exhibitions—Complete With Balloon Furniture and Chairs Made for Cuddling—Reveal Directions That Design Is Going Today


It’s February, the dead of winter, and a recession might be on the horizon. Design galleries around the world are responding with exciting solo and group shows that aim to enliven our daily lives with color and texture. From tactile sculptures to textile-like glass works, galleries and designers are striving to connect with viewers. Here are five exhibitions reminding us to stay human.


Luam Melake at R & Company
New York, New York

Chairs by Luam Melake. Courtesy of R & Company.

Why can’t furnishings express feelings? The exhibition “Furnishing Feelings” takes a humanistic approach to design, showcasing California-based Luam Melake’s chairs, through April at R & Company.

Crafted out of foam, dye, and twine, eight monumental settees invite interaction. One of them, , was the first seeat Melake conceived with the idea of advancing interpersonal relationships, while promotes cuddling by drawing from psychology and psychotherapy. 


Hamza Kadiri at Les Ateliers Courbet
New York, New York

Wardrobe by Hamza Kadiri. Courtesy of Les Ateliers Courbet.

Wardrobe by Hamza Kadiri. Courtesy of Les Ateliers Courbet.

In his solo show at Les Ateliers Courbet (through March 10), Moroccan talent Hamza Kadiri transforms pieces of found rare wood into otherworldly sculptures-cum-furniture. Kadiri revitalizes traditional Moroccan marquetry and cabinetry skills, working closely with local artisans. 

One credenza pushes the limits of what carved wood can be while a cabinet’s butterfly shape cleverly matches its own woodgrain. Kadiri and his team also look beyond these rich traditions to explore techniques like Shou Sugi Ban charring.


Brian Thoreen at Masa Gallery
Mexico City, Mexico

Installation view, Brian Thoreen, Masa Galeria. Photo: Alejandro Ramirez Orozco. Courtesy of Masa Galeria.

Installation view, Brian Thoreen, Masa Galeria. Photo: Alejandro Ramirez Orozco. Courtesy of Masa Galeria.

Coinciding with the 21st edition of Zona Maco—Mexico City’s art and design fair—Masa Gallery is setting up in the 18th-century home of patron and artist Federico Sánchez Fogarty, who threw the legendary Fiestas del Tercer Imperio (Parties of the Third Empire).

Brian Thoreen‘s solo show “Non-Zero-Sum” (through April 8) incorporates functional and nonfunctional designs, bringing together close to a dozen large-scale sculptural works that challenge the conventional use of rubber and bronze. 


정 Jeong at The Future Perfect
New York, New York

Padded chair series. Courtesy of the Future Perfect.

Padded chair series by Jineyoung Yeon. Courtesy of the Future Perfect.

Bicoastal gallery the Future Perfect is taking a serious look at contemporary Korean design. The “정 Jeong” group show—through March 17—surveys seven emerging and established talents who riff on the country’s artisanal vernacular.

Seungjin Yang challenges material limitations with his epoxy-coated balloon-like chairs; Myung Taek Jung’s conceptual furnishings distill ancient Korean architecture; Jineyoung Yeon upcycles unused goose-down jackets to create padded chairs; Junsu Kim’s soft focused, almost trompe l’oeil vessels are adorned with topographic patterning; and Brooklyn-based ceramicist Jane Yang-D’Haene reinterprets the age-old moon jar typology. 


Anthony Amoako-Attah at Heller Gallery
New York, New York

Anthony Amoako-Attah

Purveyors of contemporary glass art, Heller Gallery stands apart by exhibiting experimental practitioners, such as Ghanaian artist Anthony Amoako-Attah—a fixture of the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, United Kingdom, and the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state. 

From February 9 to March 11, his exhibition “What Do You See?” incorporates new works that translate kente cloth designs and Adinkra symbols into layered sheets of screen-printed and shaped glass.


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