7 Must-See Collectible Design Shows Around the World This May
From new bronze works by architect David Adjaye to never-before-seen designs by Pierre Paulin
1. “Beauty in Paradox” at Bernd Goeckler | New York
Taking its name from the duality of clay, “Beauty in Paradox” at Bernd Goeckler showcases an array of ceramics that push the boundaries of the medium and blur the line between art and design. “Each object in this show is a meditation on the unique character of a material that can at once be strong, yet vulnerable enough to shatter,” says gallery director Katja Hirche. In dialogue with vintage works dating to the 18th century are a slate of contemporary pieces by some of today’s top talents, among them Peter Lane (one of Galerie’s 2022 Creative Minds), Shizue Imai, Trevor King, and Scott Daniels. On view through May 31, the show also marks the gallery debut for Los Angeles–based Stephanie Morton-Millstein, whose lustrous clay works possess a graceful fluidity and are destined to be coveted by collectors.
2. “Coarse” at Friedman Benda | New York
The second solo show at Friedman Benda for fast-rising British designer Samuel Ross, “Coarse” presents a suite of new sculptural furnishings that reference everything from Brutalism, post-Industrialism, and historical West African design principals. Created using a mix of traditional materials (wood, metal, and marble) as well as unorthodox elements (turmeric, honey, and milk), the six evocative pieces are rooted in a community based on generosity of spirit. Open through June 17, this new body of work grapples with themes such as the relationship between space and time.
3. “Staged” at Friedman Benda | Los Angeles
It’s always a treat to jump into the wild and wonderful world of Misha Kahn, who just opened a trippy solo exhibition at Friedman Benda’s Los Angeles outpost. Known for his irreverent shapes and punchy color palette, the Brooklyn-based artist is presenting a whimsical selection of chairs, sofas, tapestries, and other objects that embody to his free-flowing and utterly unique style. “Creatively, I have a kind of manic shopping energy,” he admits. “I like to try on new materials and processes.” To wit: also on full display is Kahn’s expert use of a wide range of media, including concrete, bronze, chrome, wool, ceramic, and plastic.
4. “Mitera” at Les Ateliers Courbet | New York
A poetic collection of abstract ceramic vessels by artist Peter Speliopoulos are soon to be unveiled at Les Ateliers Courbet in Manhattan. Opening May 17 is “Miteria,” a show featuring the Greek artist’s recent explorations in new glazing techniques and tactile finishes that pay homage to the ancient mythology of his homeland. “Miteria vessels embody powerful energies that are both ethereal and earthbound, dynamically emerging from a vanished central point,” says Speliopoulos. “These sculptures reflect the dual nature of the goddess of spring, being both chthonian and vegetative. They feature appendages that grow upward and outward, reaching for light from the darkness.”
5. “Yaawa” at Carpenters Workshop Gallery | London
Award-winning architect David Adjaye, who recently completed a monumental multi-faith complex in Abu Dhabi, is now turning his attention to a smaller, but no less impactful, endeavor. Inaugurating Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s new London flagship, “Yaawa” showcases the British-Ghanaian architect’s latest forays into bronze, an important material with a long history of craft and weaponry on the African continent. (Yaawa means “bronze” in Twi, an indigenous Ghanaian language.) Serving as a continuation of his ongoing Monoform series, the eight limited-edition pieces showcase Adjaye’s experimentations in hand-casting, oxidization, patina, and polish—and they also mark the first time that he has exclusively used the material to create functional works of art.
6. “Formal Disruption” Demisch Danant | New York
One of the most influential designers of his generation, late French visionary Pierre Paulin (1927–2009) created sculptural, modern designs that are still highly prized decades after their release. While he’s mainly regarded for the ingenous modular developments from the 1960s and 70s, Paulin conceived a host of avant-garde furnishings and limited-edition collections for exclusive clients such as the Elysée Palac, the Louvre Museum, and Paris City Hall. Now, those designs—many of which have never been seen by the public—are getting their time in the sun thanks to the latest show put on by Demisch Danant in collaboration with Paulin, Paulin, Paulin, which runs his estate. Swing by before it closes on May 27 and make sure to see the astonishing Mitterrand office suite, which comprises five pieces commissioned in 1985 by French President François Mitterrand.
7. “Cultural Artifacts” at Cristina Grajales Gallery | New York
Opening May 11, this inventive exhibition at Cristina Grajales Gallery features a selection of sculptural furnishings and paintings by New York–based Israeli artist Roy Nachum, who takes cues from prehistoric and ancient architectural styles that have roots in Jerusalem and puts them in a modern context. Case in point: A collection of deceptively simple arch-backed oak chairs are actually chained to moving mechanical gears, which give the pieces an immersive quality that incorporates sound, motion, and space into the experience. Also showcased are Nachum’s “Flip” paintings, which are viewed from behind the canvas in order to allow the viewer to “complete” them.