Studio Job: Mad House

New York’s Museum of Arts and Design goes… crazy

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.

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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.

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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.

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