“A blast from the past” gives Greco-Roman aesthetics a modern twist

Lighting shaped like Roman arches and seating inspired by Classical Greek architecture were among works celebrating Greco-Roman aesthetics in the exhibition at Dutch Design Week this year.

Curated by Studio Joachim-Morineau, “A blast from the past” showcased work from several emerging designers whose projects “reclaimed its identity using different mediums” including sculpture, furniture and ceramics. 

“From questioning the use of ornamentation to the reinterpretation of archetypes and production techniques—the exhibition is intended as a celebration of past aesthetics,” explained founders Carla Joachim and Jordan Morineau whose practice echoes the same sentiment. 

Studio Joachim-Morineau often produces designs that fuse traditional crafts with new technologies, as demonstrated in several of its projects featuring ceramics. In 2018, it developed a dripping machine that combines industrial precision with human error to create repeat patterns with a “handmade” aesthetic.

On this occasion, the studio decided to step away from pottery and present its latest collection called “Archetype”, featuring a series of aluminium columns inspired by the Pont du Gard in France and ruins from the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo in Rome

During a tour of the exhibition, we had the chance to speak about the collection in detail, the concept behind “A blast from the past”, and the other works on display…

Studio Joachim-Morineau curated the exhibition “A Blast from the Past” inviting designers with a connection with Greco-Roman aesthetics – © Pierre Castignola

Hi Carla and Jordan, thanks for welcoming us: can you tell us where are we?

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “Hi! We are in our workspace called “ATWORK”, an old and large Philips warehouse, in the industrial area Strijp-T in Eindhoven, which is shared between designers, communication agencies and event organisers. 

The ground floor where the exhibition currently takes place is usually for common use, with all kinds of machines for wood and metalwork and a ceramic workshop. This is where we design and produce all of our pieces. On the mezzanine, we have our private office and storage space.”

This exhibition was one that we singled out in anticipation of DDW, don’t miss Isola Design District x Dutch Design Week: From biomaterials to collectible design.

The exhibition took place in the workspace of Studio Joachim-Morineau called “ATWORK”, an old and large Philips warehouse, in the industrial area Strijp-T in Eindhoven – © Pierre Castignola

What is the spirit and message of the exhibition “A blast from the past”? 

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “Since last year, we have been preparing our first furniture collection called “Archetypes”, which is a celebration of past Greco-Roman architecture and aesthetics with a reflection on the industrial processes we use today

The exhibition “A blast from the past” is the next step where we invite designers along with us to create a group exhibition around this Greco-Roman subject and an immersive exhibition, where the past and the present are being merged together.”

How did you select the different designers involved in the exhibition? What do they have in common and how does their work fit in the overall concept?

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “We were willing to work along with emerging designers who have their own relation to the Greco-Roman subject: in the design aesthetic/practice, their production process, or the concept development. Moreover, we also invited the designers based on the diversity of the work: the size of the chosen pieces, materials and colours were thought to enhance each others’.

Everyone in the exhibition has a connection with this past aesthetic, but if you start questioning the designers about their pieces, each of them will bring you into their world and can develop on their own thoughts, use of ornamentation, techniques or processes.”

Every designer or studio part of the exhibition has a connection with the Greco-Roman subject, but relate to it in a unique way – © Pierre Castignola

Let’s start with the Archetypes Collection, which you contributed to the show as Studio Joachim-Morineau.

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “We imagined the collection last year during the pandemic. After working with ceramics for quite a while, we wanted to change scale, function and material. 

Our inspiration took place from emblematic edifices such as the aqueduct du Gard in France and the ruins from the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo in Rome. From the observation of the construction and the formalistic essence of these architectures, we decided to translate those archetypes into new furniture pieces.

We created a dialogue between the past and the present, from the classic shape of the Greco and Roman aesthetic to a modern language of material and processes

In our production, we re-use factory-made standardized metal profiles and sheets to build our furniture. As we enhance the beauty of these industrial parts, we see a potential added value to industrial wastes. It also questions the temporality of each object into a long-term construction.”

The series Everyday Ornament by designer-artist Adèle Vivet is unique in its approach to decorations and furniture—can you tell us what this series is about?

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “Everyday Ornament emphasizes the fact that that decoration remains important to highlight the singularity of an object, our way of life and our history. Memory is an incredible tool to understand our contemporary aesthetics, revealing political, cultural and social motives when we peel back the historic layers of these art movements.

Adèle Vivet shows the appreciation of decors within a range of stools and vases, entirely made of ceramic. Her idea was to develop a series of double-sided objects that are referring to modernist aesthetics in order to overwhelm them with ornaments from the inside. She tells the history of ornament in our western culture, how abundance and representation keep standing through the different eras.

Fragments and Distortion by French designer Marina Mankarios features a series of beautiful and evocative sculptures: how are they made and what is their message?

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “Marina considered the mold as a specific creative tool. She questioned the significance of the words “reproduction” and “representation” by playing with the rules of Greco-Roman models in her work. She chose plaster as material for all her sculptures, for the simple reason that it’s the most-used material in molding, and it gives her the liberty to work directly with her hands.

Fragments and Distortion are two series of sculptures where she includes perturbations in the perception of those archetypal sculptures. On the first hand, she uses processes of repetitions, offsets, and collage so that sculptures seem to have suffered a strange and nonsensical degradation. 

In the second part of her research, she plays with distortion processes to reinvent archetypes. In a surrealistic approach, she presents sculptures as if they were soft, in total contradiction with the plaster’s hardness.

The exhibition also features the Cross Legged Ceramic Table by Rino Claessens and The Column I by Victor Ledure. What do they represent and how are they made?

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “Both Rino and Victor have an architectural approach in their work and both use ceramic to expand the limits of the material from indoor to outdoor. 

The Column I series, from Victor, brings back architecture to its basic principles; questioning predetermined roles and ancient archetypes. By removing the piece from its original supporting purpose, it now doubles its functions as bearing and leading architectural elements.

The CLCT’ (Cross Legged Ceramic Table) maintains a formal language with a sponged finish that gives it a highly tactile quality. This texture intrigues the nature of the material itself. With this table, Rino is showing ceramics in a new context and he is challenging the limits of the material.

Each piece is made out of clay, by hand and can be stacked with others to distil our inner desire to create, to disassemble, to rebuild.”

What are your ambitions for the exhibition after Dutch Design Week?

Studio Joachim-Morineau: “Meeting with all the designers from the exhibition and seeing the energy it brought, we believe there is more potential for collaborations and synergy. 

There is nothing concrete yet, but we also have some ideas such as bringing the exhibition to Paris, since most of the designers have their practices there. We could place “A blast from the past” in a more classical architecture context, to create a contrast with the industrial location in Eindhoven

When we designed the exhibition, we wanted interior designers, architects and gallerists to be able to project each work in a different context, from private to public places. Regarding our collection, we see a lot of potential for our arches and columns to create set-ups for window displays, but also for hotels, restaurants and retail spaces. Every piece can be made on-demand and adapted to the location. 

In this sense, the Archetypes collection can grow outside the door of our workshop.”

Infusing tradition and history into furniture design creates rich narratives that pay homage to an abundant heritage, check out HENRYTIMI’s artkitchen is inspired by ancient traditions in Pompeii.

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