Named for the former use of its inaugural space, which opened in London in 2006, Carpenters Workshop Gallery has grown into a producer, exhibitor, and purveyor of exceptional, collectible design. In addition to its London location, the company has permanent locations in Paris, New York, and San Francisco, the last of which is housed in a splendid church.
Founders Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail state in the CWG manifesto: “We hold a mirror to artists, challenging their vision, all the while steadily building our haute couture market, ensuring rarity and provenance and relentlessly exhibiting our artists in our galleries, at fairs, and in museums worldwide.”
While CWG shows and sells established names like Wendell Castle, Le Gaillard and Lombrail are also committed to discovering and nurturing burgeoning talents. To that end they opened an 8,000-square-metre workshop in suburban Paris in 2016, where artists have the space and amenities to experiment with techniques and materials, and some experienced artisans to guide them.
Six such young designers are currently part of The New Guard: Paris, a group show in the Paris showroom. Part of the gallery’s Next Gen initiative, The New Guard: Paris aims to give visitors an idea of the new voices in the field. “Our energies are focused on a specific and rare moment when design becomes art: the inception of a new movement stepping into the debate of form versus function,” Le Gaillard and Lombrail explain.
Parisian artist Léa Mestres (29) is exhibiting three lamps in shades of pink and ranging from 160 centimetres to 247 centimetres in height. Their comically imposing proportions are further anthropomorphized by their human names: Stacy, Suzy, and Jessy. With textures that betray the work of the human hand, and the cartoony effect of the imperfectly spaced-out bumps, these lamp sculptures clearly aim to make us smile. “All the lamps I did have a personality,” Mestres says. Only when a lamp is completely done can she determine “if they are an old woman or a young person.”
A storyteller of a different kind is the Polish artist Marcin Rusak (35), who uses actual flora for his three vases and one credenza. Executed in polished zinc or bronze, Rusak’s work begins with plants and flowers specially treated and covered in a thin layer of molten metal. Rusak’s father and grandfather were flower growers, and in other, equally extraordinary pieces not on display here, he also employs flowers and plant life. In the works exhibited at CWG, the effect of the matte grey zinc covering the botanical material is dreamlike. Make sure to ask to open the door of the credenza: the inside of the doors reveals the steel and jute backing, also covered in metal, on which the plants were mounted. As interesting as the exterior, it is a detail that gives a glimpse of the piece’s craftsmanship and originality. Rusak has been winning awards since 2014—expect that to continue well into the future.
Along with the work of the other exhibited designers—Bea Bonafini, Paul Créange, Luke Fuller, and Sylvain Rieu-Piquet—the above works can be viewed by appointment at Carpenters Workshop Gallery Paris through September 3, 2022.