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Exhibitions

Galerie kreo: @home

Six curated salons exemplify the Krzentowski approach to domestic space.

Galerie kreo, 31, rue Dauphine, 75006 Paris

3rd November 2020 – March 2021

By Anne Bony / 5th January 2021
Installation view COURTESY: Galerie Kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Installation view
COURTESY: Galerie kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

GALERIE KREO, ESTABLISHED in 1999 by Didier and Clémence Krzentowski, started out in the rue Duchefdelaville in Paris, a district known at that time for its cutting-edge contemporary art galleries. In this avant-garde context, kreo’s first exhibition was dedicated to ‘Furniture and Objects, 1969-2000’. Alongside iconic Italian designer Joe Colombo, younger designers such as Marc Newson and the Radi designers were exhibited. This winter, as the gallery, now located on the rue Dauphine, opened its 127th exhibition – @home – Didier Krzentowski talked to The Design Edit about the principles which have inspired Galerie kreo throughout its history and how they are reflected in this show.

As a passionate collector himself, Didier Krzentowski has always mixed vintage design with the work of contemporary makers, and has shared this approach with his collectors. Another important inspiration behind Galerie kreo was Krzentowski’s mentor, Pierre Staudenmeyer, who, through his gallery Neotu, pioneered the idea of contemporary collectible design from the 1980s. To encourage ambitious innovation, Krzentowski set out to offer his designers the space and time to develop their research – resulting in original collections which were exhibited in Paris and, between 2014 and 2020, in London.

Installation view COURTESY: Galerie Kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Installation view with Ico and Luisa Paris, ‘Armchair model n°869 (2)’, circa 1960 
COURTESY: Galerie kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Isolated in their home from March to mid-May, during lockdown, Didier and Clémence became aware of how powerfully their own private apartment exemplified their philosophy of mixing contemporary art, vintage design and contemporary design. The concept for this latest exhibition was born – @home would be an expression of this eclectic taste, offered in the gallery.

Installation view COURTESY: Galerie Kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Installation view
COURTESY: Galerie kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Six examples of domestic spaces have been created for the exhibition, presented as curated salons by turns formal, casual, minimal or colourful. Each space is centred around vintage sofas and armchairs by important industrial designers such as Franco Albini, Ico & Luisa Parisi, Gianfranco Frattini, Bernard Brunier, Pierre Paulin and Geneviève Dangles. To these are added storage systems and tables by mid-twentieth century French designers André Monpoix and Paul Geoffroy.

Interiors are not complete without lighting, Didier Krzentowski’s special passion – he has collected historical Italian lighting design for more than 30 years. He has placed a large number of highly varied lights throughout the salons, including some by French post-war modernists Joseph-André Motte, Gustave Gautier and Pierre Guariche and by the mid-century and post-war Italian designers and design studios, Stilnovo, Sergio Asti, Studio BBPR and Gino Sarfatti.

Installation view COURTESY: Galerie Kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Installation view with Gino Sarfatti, ‘2095/9 grey’ light, 1958 (left) and ‘1011’ light, 1973 (right)
COURTESY: Galerie kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Krzentowski likens the curating process to building a jigsaw puzzle, the historical bases being completed by the new pieces. “The confrontation between ancient and contemporary pieces sparks your curiosity, ” Krzentowski comments, “If the pieces are interesting in their design process, I don’t mind mixing 19th century pieces with contemporary work.” Despite this spread across time periods, however, there is a consistency in Krzentowski’s choices. Most of the selected designers, even the contemporary ones, are used to working for industry. And although kreo’s contemporary designers – Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Hella Jongerius, Guillaume Bardet, Pierre Charpin, Jean-Baptiste Fastrez, François Bauchet, Jaime Hayon, Olivier Gagnère – consider their activity for the gallery as a separate activity, which leaves them free to explore and experiment beyond the constraints of the industrial process, there is a shared for respect for that experience and the values it represents.

Installation view with Gianfranco Frattini armchair, circa 1956 and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, ‘Grey Grappe Carpet, 2001 COURTESY: Galerie Kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

Installation view with Gianfranco Frattini armchair, circa 1956 and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, ‘Grey Grappe Carpet, 2001
COURTESY: Galerie Kreo / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alexandra de Cossette

So, in @home, Didier and Clémence Krzentowski have chosen pieces that are both minimalist in style and reflect modernist theory, with its championing of industrialisation and an industrial aesthetic, a thread that has run through all their exhibitions since 1999. Based on the beautiful idea of living together, Didier and Clémence Krzentowski have created a show that brings together a wide variety of design pieces in poetic, domestic harmony – a model for us all in 2021.

Galerie kreo – specialises in limited edition contemporary design, alongside exceptional vintage lighting.

Article By

Anne Bony
Anne Bony is a writer specialising in design history and contemporary design analysis.