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Unique items that question ideas about the contemporary home, by designers including Martino Gamper and Studio Swine, are on display at Chamber gallery in New York’s Chelsea. Just What Is It is the first of four exhibitions in Chamber’s Collection #3, curated by Matylda Krzykowski of contemporary design gallery Depot Basel.

The show is named after English artist Richard Hamilton’s 1956 artwork: Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? As his collage presents objects considered desirable at the time, Krzykowski has similarly selected covetable luxury and one-off pieces that reflect or suggest current tastes and preoccupations.

“The request to make a choice of 100 items for a gallery show is like collecting 100 potential fragments for a collage,” said the curator and designer. “It’s an ambivalent concept, because clearly the aura of the individual piece is sabotaged.” Design-art items that straddle functional and sculptural are on display across the gallery. They range from surrealist lights and foldable structures to a giant architectural drawing template.

At the entrance, Mirka Laura Severa’s illuminated photographs of dressed prosthetic limbs act like advertising screens without any identifiable brand to promote. In the main gallery, items are arranged around the edge and atop a central podium. Pieces in the middle include Studio Swine’s cabinet made from aluminium foam, and a huge rug woven from thick rubbery ropes by Louie Rigano and Gill Muller.

Of a variety of mirrored pieces, a hinged design by Florian Ziller and Fatemeh Naderi alters the angles of tessellated panels when it senses movement. Colour also plays a prominent role in the show, as seen in a set of multi-hued bins by Martino Gamper, which question why trash cans aren’t made features of the home, and a blue metallic room divider by Oskar Zieta.

Following Part I of her series, Krzykowski’s second exhibition will open on 15 December 2016, with Parts III and IV in March and May 2017 respectively. “By exploring a different theme with every exhibition, each globally assembled collage becomes a token of our times expressed through various types of work,” said Krzykowski. “Collection #3 will be a temporary and static image in the same time.”

Chamber opened its space under the popular High Line elevated park in September 2014. Previous editions of its Collections series have been curated by Belgian artists Studio Job and American filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman. The gallery’s other recent exhibitions have included a collection of nine cabinets by different designers and a solo show of work by Japanese botanical artist Makoto Azuma.

Photography: Lauren Coleman

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