The immersive, imaginatively opulent work of Antwerp-based designers Studio Job will be on glorious display at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design from March 22 to August 21. The Belgian and Dutch duo – Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel – are known for their expressive work that fuses traditional applied arts practices such as gilding, marquetry, bronze casting and faience with a contemporary, irreverent edge.
Two light-filled floors at the museum have been devoted to Studio Job: Mad House – an exuberant exhibition designed to resemble a fictitious collector’s home, from flooring to wall-coverings to furniture and decorative objects. Everything – right down to the light fixtures – will be available to buy either from the museum’s gallerists or commissioned from the designers themselves. An audio guide – narrated by the imaginary “collector” – will include stories about the provenance of each piece in the faux collection.
These artists’ fascination with quirky souvenirs and highly personalised collections is evident from the outset, with works such as the bronze, glass and paint Banana lamp (€15,000, first picture) from the Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery, and the Train Crash table, made of polished and patinated bronze with 24ct gilding ($180,000), courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Among the most striking pieces is the duo’s dramatic Chartres cabinet in dark bronze and gold leaf (€340,000, second picture). A reference to the Gothic French cathedral, this cupboard is a sculptural masterpiece that turns a scale replica of the revered building turned on its side. Equally dazzling is the playful Monkey Business ($110,000) – a Swarovski crystal-encrusted treasure chest made of polished and gilded bronze with LED light fittings.
A cheeky F*** the Teacher thumbtack sconce ($5,000, third picture) and a Sinking Ship drawing ($7,000-$9,000) are other unexpected works on display – ones that will make the viewer pause, ponder and possibly chuckle.
Studio Job: Mad House subverts traditional museum tropes with gleeful energy – from offering works for sale to constructing a purposefully fake narrative. It promises to be an extraordinary cultural adventure, one worth extending by investing in the colourful Rizzoli and Carpenters Workshop Gallery monograph ($60) by Smeets and Tynagel that accompanies the exhibition, and sheds further light on the duo’s creative processes.