Verge; In Proximity

By Jo Phillips

In conjunction with Milan Design Week 2018, Vitra presents the exhibition ‘Typecasting’, a panorama of some 200 objects curated by designer Robert Stadler.

On the surface, it’s a unique collection representing the ‘Atlas of Furniture Design’ – a reference book on the history of modern furniture which will be published in Autumn 2018 and previewed to the public for the first time in Milan. More than this though, the focus of the exhibition is representing the social function of these products; their qualities and connotations. Stadler regards the objects as characters and assigns them to groups which reflect stereotypical behaviour patterns and personality profiles in contemporary society.

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By placing them in proximity with each other, the collection gives viewers a distinctive opportunity to juxtapose the products, allowing us to question the limitations and boundaries of such everyday items, items which most of us never give a second thought. The exhibition allows us to question how commonplace and conventional objects demonstrate certain groups, whether they signify a socioeconomic position, or perhaps a particular style, a trend or a taste. What makes the elements of this installation ‘characters’ as such, is their removal of human presence entirely.


In one corner of the exhibition, you may see a leather wheelie chair, and believe that it looks as if it’s been designed ergonomically, to be sat in by a successful Ad-Man on a six-figure salary, manually adjusting his position in a prestigious office block, the adjustment options so numerous that he can’t decide what’s comfortable anymore. We may take a different kind of furniture and see it as a tacky, pale, low-end market sofa which might seat a working-class family. There is no definitive answer to what the furniture should suggest; this exhibition encourages interpretation. The examples of the Ad-man and the working-class family are stereotypical ones. Of course, individually, these objects mirror stereotypical behaviour patterns and personality profiles, though their regrouping and connection inspire one to create narratives in their own mind, narratives which are bound to deviate from person to person. ‘Typecasting’ was crafted this way.

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Milan Design week is happening now! See it at: Vitra, La Pelota Via Palermo 10, 20121 Milano.

17-21 April 2018: 10am-8pm.

22 April 2018: 10am-5pm.

Find out more here.

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