|Be Amish Bottles 2011
8 Bouteilles de Be Amish, dimensions variables
|Vues de l'exposition Ideal Home, 2011, Chelsea Space, London, UK
Chelsea Space is delighted to present ‘Ideal Home’ an exhibition of original and editioned design and contemporary art from private collections and the Special Collections of Chelsea College of Art and Design. This exhibition, organised as part of the London Design Festival and the Icon Design Trail 2011, brings together work by over 50 artists and designers made across 98 years from 1913 to 2011 exploring the increasingly blurred boundaries between art and daily life.
‘Ideal Home’ takes its title from one of the exhibits – an Omega Workshop Rug designed by Frederick Etchells for the 1913 Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition held at Olympia, London. The Daily Mail invited the avante-garde Omega group, founded by Roger Fry, in what appears to be a cynical attempt to recreate the public outrage caused by the exhibition Manet and Post- Impressionism curated by Fry for London’s Grafton Galleries in 1910. Beyond the public dismay and anti-modern art rhetoric whipped up by the press, the 1913 Ideal Home Exhibition also caused rivalries and bitter feuds between members of the Omega Workshops and the Vorticists culminating in a ‘round robin’ letter discrediting Fry signed by Wyndham Lewis, Frederick Etchells, CJ Hamilton, and Edward Wadsworth; seen in 2011, Etchell’s seemingly benign and historic rug belies a story of utopian dreams turning into nightmares.
Fairs such as The Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, like shopping arcades and department stores, were seductive and seemed to reflect society better than the museums, creating a new worldwide form of entertainment and education combined with trade. Movements such as Arts and Crafts, Constructivism, De Stijl, and Bauhaus made optimistic experiments combining art and design and later, thanks to mass production, companies such as Habitat, Ercol, Athena, and Ikea introduced ‘lifestyle’ and the notion of a life enhanced by art and design into the lives and homes of a wider populace.
Taking into consideration the apparent cynicism and bitter arguments that surrounded The Omega Workshop and the 1913 Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, this show at Chelsea Space focuses not only on the optimistic vision of a harmonious life through art and design but also looks at the flipside through artworks which are dysfunctional, often darkly humorous critiques of modern life. From Gerrit Rietveld’s De Stijl Red and Blue Chair to Gavin Turk’s Egg Seat – a Philippe Starck perspex ‘Ghost Chair’ with an egg shaped hole cut in the seat and a plastic bucket beneath, this exhibition gives us a view somewhere between domestic bliss and a living hell.