Celebrating Studio Job, The Goofy Mavericks Of Design-Art

Antwerp-based Studio Job is one of the strangest, and most exciting, design firms working in Europe today. They have made “Rock Sofas” that resemble giant geodes. They have skewed cabinets to look like reflections in a carnival mirror. They have inlaid tables with skulls and cross bones, a motif they repeated in the cabin of a $455,000 leisure boat. Their taste for whimsical ornamentation and functional ambiguity positions them squarely in the design-art movement that swept the design world (and lined the pockets of the art galleries) last decade.

Now, principals Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel are, at the ripe old age of 41 and 34, respectively, getting their first comprehensive retrospective at the Groninger Museum, in the Netherlands.

Studio Job & the Groninger Museum features dozens of objects, including early pottery-type containers that could pass for student projects (and maybe were?) and other material experiments, like paper chandeliers. It also exhibits Studio Job’s more monumental work–projects that show design-art at its most outrageous and paradoxical. Take Robber Baron (2007), a suite of five cast-bronze furnishings: a cabinet, a mantel clock, a table, a standing lamp, and a jewel safe. Elaborately detailed and gilded to a T, they were designed to reflect the excesses of 19th-century American tycoons and modern-day Russian oligarchs–while, at the same time, being affordable only to tycoons and oligarchs.

The exhibit opens October 16. More info here.

[Photography: J.-B. Mondino, C. Theurer, R. Kot, M. Aukes, P. Stigter, and M. de Leeuw; courtesy of Studio Job]SL