Join Our Bi-Monthly Mailer
My Account
Support Us
Exhibitions

‘metalworks – designing & making’

Konschthal Esch presents an exhibition exploring the impact of metal on design and its historical significance in the post-industrial city.

Konschthal Esch, Luxembourg
18th June to 4th September

By Adrian Madlener / 21st June 2022
Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022 COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022
COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

WITH THE ADVENT of the industrial revolution in the early 19th century, metal blast furnaces helped propel innovation and mass production. New industrial cities emerged across Western Europe from the English Midlands to Germany’s Ruhrgebiet. In Luxembourg, the city Esch-sur-Alzette was made famous throughout Europe for its early 20th century steel and iron production. The exhibition ‘metalworks designing & making’ at Konschthal Esch, hosted as part of Esch2022 European Capital of Culture, uncovers the town’s forgotten industrial past by drawing parallels with contemporary metal design. 

Konschthal Esch COURTESY: Konschthal Esch / © Remi Villaggi

Konschthal Esch
COURTESY: Konschthal Esch / © Remi Villaggi

Running all summer at Konschthal Esch, the show brings together internationally-recognised talents that work with this influential, yet socio-politically charged material from diverse vantage points, cementing Esch’s historical relevance and giving meaning to its architecture and urbanism. 

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022 COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022
COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

“Design has historically been intertwined with industrial production and furniture manufacturers,” says the exhibition’s curator Georges Zigrand. “Today, however, designers take part in a renewed interest in raw materials, with production in series or in limited editions, unique or custom-made objects. Much like art and architecture, design is a way of interpreting ideology, a way of thinking about our daily lives.” 

Xavier Lust, ‘Archiduchaise’, 2004 | 2007 COURTESY: Xavier Lust Brussels & Konschthal Esch

Xavier Lust, ‘Archiduchaise’, 2004 | 2007
COURTESY: Xavier Lust Brussels & Konschthal Esch

In this exhibition, 40 or so statement pieces by 20 designers, arranged into 16 themes, survey different approaches and lines of inquiry – from artisanal techniques (such as casting, hammering and cutting), to advanced technologies (like machining, superforming and digital fabrication). “Each object was carefully chosen for its intrinsic qualities and strong visual expression,” Konschthal Esch assistant curator Charlotte Masse explains. “They explicitly illustrate the manufacturing process by way of their form or finishing.” 

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022 COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022
COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

Many exhibitors including Max Lamb, Studio Swine, Jakob Jørgensen, Joris Laarman and Oskar Zięta have pushed the properties and processes of metal to new heights. Others like Linde Freya Tangelder (destroyers/builders), PELLE, Sigve Knutson and Ron Arad have challenged the conventions of assembly. 

Max Lamb, ‘Nanocrystalline Copper Chair’, 2010 COURTESY: Max Lamb & Gallery FUMI & Konschthal Esch

Max Lamb, ‘Nanocrystalline Copper Chair’, 2010
COURTESY: Max Lamb & Gallery FUMI & Konschthal Esch

Like many of her contemporaries, Brussels-based Tangelder seeks to reinterpret archaic forms and architectural archetypes in carefully-crafted sculptural works that question our understanding of function. New York-based PELLE created the ‘DVN Table’ using a single sheet of solid aluminium and precision-milling to achieve exact cuts, reflecting Japanese joinery that requires no additional fasteners or adhesives. Other pieces on view include Knutson’s ‘Hammered Aluminium Cloud’, Lamb’s ‘Ali Bar Chair’, Thomas Heatherwick’s ‘Extrusion [Billet 6, Extrusion 3]’ and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec’s ‘Officina collection table’, 2015.

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, ‘Officina collection table’, 2015 COURTESY: Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec & Konschthal Esch

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, ‘Officina collection table’, 2015
COURTESY: Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec & Konschthal Esch

Bringing together an eclectic and exhaustive array of designs and with a comprehensive accompanying catalogue, ‘metalworks’ explores existing and emerging techniques and reveals the potential of creative and critical thinking in innovating the medium. 

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022 COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

Exhibition view, ‘metalworks’ at Konschthal Esch, 2022  
COURTESY: Konschthal Esch

metalworks – designing & making is at Konschthal Esch, Luxembourg

@konschthal

Article by Adrian Madlener
Article by Adrian Madlener
Adrian Madlener is a Brussels-born, New York-based writer covering a wide range of design-related topics. View all articles by Adrian Madlener