Omar Sosa, creative director and cofounder of the influential interiors magazine Apartamento, tells us about his first curatorial effort, “Comfort,” a group show of unconventional and provocative art and design works—which range from a wonky Ettore Sottsass bookshelf, to a Bless-designed hammock made of pillows, to a toilet-sink hybrid by Guillermo Santoma—on view through Feb. 15 at New York’s Friedman Benda gallery.
How did the idea for the show begin? What led you to explore the notion of comfort?
Comfort is something that, most of the time, is not considered much in the world of contemporary art objects that could be utilitarian. It’s always been interesting for me when somebody completely outside or unfamiliar with this world looks at a chair and thinks, “Is it really to be used? Is it actually comfortable to sit on?”
It’s exploring the idea of comfort in a physical sense, but also visually and psychologically. At the same time, on a personal level, I’m doing something new and going outside of my comfort zone by curating a show, which for me is really venturing into a different world. It’s hard to say what people will experience—and I want to keep it quite open-ended—but, for me, it’s more about asking questions rather than providing answers.
With Apartamento, you’ve had the chance to step inside the homes of many eccentrics and creatives around the world. How do you feel this has shaped your personal taste?
Seeing so many people’s homes conditions the way you think about your own space, and this is actually one of the reasons that comfort instinctively came up. Maybe the only nondescript rule of Apartamento is that we show people who have a strong expression in their personal environment, which often means a completely different thing from person to person. It’s made me realize that I’m more interested in venturing outside of what I consider beautiful versus not beautiful, or what I like or don’t like—looking at things in that sort of black-and-white way doesn’t apply anymore.
For me, visual comfort is very important, and that comfort is more based on what I find interesting. I prefer to live with objects that are challenging, that you may not like at first, but which slowly grow on you. That comes from having seen so many houses, how different people live with different things, and have different standards of beauty and of comfort.
There seem to be more and more artists working with “functional sculpture,” a blurry middle ground that defies conventional lines between art and design. Of course, there’s a longer history of artists who have done this, but why do you think this approach resonates today?
Today, houses are being turned inside out in a way that has never happened before. With Instagram and social media, it’s easier to show what you have in your house and also see what other people have—there’s a heightened interest and attention to this realm because you can share your sofas as easily as you would, say, your sneakers. What the objects in the show have in common is that they transcend the comfort zone of conventionality. And what I wanted to highlight here, a bit, is that it has been happening for some time—it’s not just a recent phenomenon, though there is obviously more attention and interest to it now. It’s about objects that have a strong and critical art component, but also could be used in your everyday life.
The toilet-sink definitely challenges my comfort zone! One is for cleaning and the other expelling, and yes, you usually see the two together, but not so… close.
That was one of the few works I commissioned for the show. I thought the idea of having such an often disregarded, common, utilitarian everyday object would be a fun way to bring in some humor. Guillermo made his own version of it by combining it with a sink and flattening the surface—it makes fun of the idea that these fixtures just kind of recycle the same water. It’s a challenging piece, and interesting to see alongside other works.
Another piece [in the show] that’s relevant for me is Nicola L.’s “Canapé Homme Geant.” I like the connotations of her being a woman artist, chopping a man into pieces, and then sitting on him. It’s super powerful and feminist. Another important piece is a couch by John Chamberlain. It’s just a beautiful, generous couch to lie down in. It’s so simple—he cut some foam and put a parachute over it. It’s one of the contrasting pieces of the show. When you see this together with the others, it’s meant for you to be like, “Oh, that’s comfort!”
The jagged spine of the Rocky Mountains is too beautiful to mar. Yet over the years, developers and builders have manageBuckminster Fuller, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eliot Noyes, and Eero Saarinen completed commissions in the Western United States, transforming it into a hub for architectural modRocky Mountain Modern: Contemporary Alpine Homes (Monacelli Press).
A recurring theme in design critic Alexandra Lange’s work is unpacking how—and for whom—objects and spaces are designed.The Dot-Com City, and surveyed how kids’ toys and physical environments impact their development in her 2018 book, The Design of Childhood. The ways in which outdoor public spaces, with their basketball courts, playgrounds, and skate parks, fail teen girls wa story she wrote for Bloomberg CityLab—one of many publications she has contributed to over the past two-plus decades.
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In branding and marketing, animal imagery abounds: Lacoste’s crocodile, Bacardi’s bat, Geico’s gecko, Swarovski’s swan, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), animals appear in approximately 20 percent of all advertisements. These creatures, however, receive little to n
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In 1983, French photographer Simon Chaput arrived in New York City for a weeklong trip, and ended up staying for nearly –1991) in California and Japan to “The Floating Piers” (2014–2016) in Italy. Along the way, in 1984, Chaput met the artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who recognized Chaput’s love oNew York,” which he began in 1996, that chronicled the developing built environment of Lower Manhattan.
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Three years ago, on New Year’s Eve in Havana, artist José Parlá introduced Craig Dykers, a founding partner of the archiSnøhetta, to Jon Gray, one-third of the Bronx-based chef troupe Ghetto Gastro. The two began what would become an ongoing converBurnside, an intimate, flexible café and culinary event space for the Tokyo creative agency En One. (Health restrictions have pr
Blackness as a color and, in some ways, as a culture often finds itself in close proximity to death. Despite the vivid b
In 2019, Madrid-based designer Jorge Penadés founded Extraperlo, a nonprofit exhibition platform for unorthodox work andCurating Curators,” on view Feb. 18–20 at Penadés’s warehouse-like studio as part of this month’s Madrid Design Festival, upends the conv
Hanna Nova Beatrice is the founder and editor-in-chief of The New Era, a recently launched independent Scandinavian design publication. “It grew out of a strong belief in the [power of] priResidence magazine, prefers to consume media the old-fashioned way, with an eye toward periodicals that innovate on physical page How do you start your mornings?
As the world adapts to pandemic life, we’ve seen creativity heroically emerge, in nearly every sector, amid limitations.Kei Truck Garden Contest in Osaka, which brings nature closer to city-dwellers in the form of compact, foliage-filled creations. (The date for t
For most of us, the urge to bring smartphones into our bedrooms is too strong to resist—even when science, and firsthandattest to the habit’s harmful effects. One way to curb the temptation: Loftie, an alarm clock designed to transform sleep spaces into phone-free sanctuaries. Calibrated for the digital age, the dev
Those visiting Japan’s beloved gardens during the winter might be struck by the sight of trees confined within mysteriouyukitsuri—the term for these intriguing rope webs—is a traditional Japanese gardening technique intended to protect trees’ long b
Design can be a powerful tool in times of crisis, when creativity is a crucial element for survival. At the start of theDesigners Against Coronavirus, and in the fall, took the project a step further by documenting 272 of the works in a book of the same name. Nearly all the resources to publish it, from the paper to securing the copyright for each image, were donated, and the