Coming to America

Design | Apr 2017 | BY Ann Binlot

Robert Stadler has long been known in the European design community for his experiments in tufting, stacking layers and deconstruction. The Paris-based, Austrian designer has had a number of successful exhibitions at venues like the MAK design salon in Vienna, as well as the Centre Pompidou and Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris and London, but he had yet to break through stateside.

That’s all about to change. This month, a solo exhibition opens at the Noguchi Museum in Queens concurrently with “Weight Class,” a solo show at CWG in Manhattan. “The feedback has always been tremendous and it was time to do something ambitious in New York,” says Loïc Le Gaillard, co-founder of CWG. Stadler will also have an installation, Waiting Room: Noguchi/Stadler, at Collective Design Fair, opening May 3, co-curated by the designer and Noguchi Museum Senior Curator Dakin Hart.

Cut_paste #7 (Onyx Coffee Table)

When the Noguchi Museum first proposed an exhibition that probed the relationship between the works of its late namesake Isamu Noguchi and the designer, Stadler couldn’t see the correlation. Dakin Hart, the senior curator of the Noguchi Museum was persistent. “He kept showing me images and examples and anecdotes that showed parallels that I never suspected,” recalls Stadler, who visits the museum on every trip to New York, and was eventually convinced.

“It’s a lot about questioning the usual categorization of art and design,” says Stadler of the show, entitled “Solid Doubts.” “It’s about surprising with new works that don’t necessarily always connect to what preceded it. It’s not always the most linear way to work.”

Pools & Pouf!, 2004. Photo by Patrick Gries.

“Solid Doubts” is comprised of four areas that show Stadler’s work alongside Noguchi’s; in two sections the work is exhibited densely: One will show Stadler’s PdT (pierre de taille, or cut stone) pieces, composed of travertine juxtaposed against the Herodiade sculptures of whitened plywood Noguchi designed in 1944 as a set for choreographer Martha Graham. In the other, works from Stadler’s 2007 Pouf and Pools series are shown alongside Noguchi’s Akari lanterns. “We wanted something really physical, really strong and really intense,” said Stadler.

Though it took Stadler some time to come around to the correlation, his dealer found the connection to be quite apparent. “Both artists—in their own ways and own time—have a very intellectual and thoughtful approach of making furniture and design,” says le Gaillard. “Although their work seems very simple and understated, there’s a deep reflection into it.”

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