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04/10/24: Discover the Unexpected Architectural Gems That Inspire This Rising Designer

A London designer finds vibrant colors overlooked styles that fuel their chic designs; Richard Serra's drawings go on display; and a Japanese Emigré Flexes His Creativity in Paris.

April 10, 2024 By THE GRAND TOURIST
Designer Charlotte Rey. Photo: Robbie Lawrence

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Rey’s rug designs for Nordic Knots, shot at the Thorvaldsens Museum. Photo: Robbie Lawrence

Discover the Unexpected Architectural Gems That Inspire This Rising Designer

Designer Charlotte Rey met her business partner, Duncan Campbell, when they were young editors at the influential magazine “Acne Paper.” The two struck out on their own, starting as a creative consultancy in 2014 (with clients like Bulgari), which has now blossomed into a full-blown, more traditional design studio called Campbell-Rey. To me, the London-based duo is part of a generation of sophisticated multi-hyphenates that enjoy creating a rug line just as much as they do glassware, interiors, and furniture. Rey, who was raised in Sweden, often turns to prewar interiors and architecture for inspiration, resulting in works that blend English and Scandinavian sensibilities. Case in point: Their latest collaboration with Nordic Knots reimagines some of the company’s popular rugs in new jewel-toned colors pulled from a mood board filled with neoclassical locales. I asked the always warm and generous Rey to share some of her most inspiring historic spots around the globe. —Dan Rubinstein

Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen
“I grew up in southern Sweden, so I would visit Denmark a lot growing up. One of my favorite museums there was Thorvaldsens. Dedicated to the 19th-century native neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, the only non-Catholic artist to work in the Vatican, and often compared to Canova, it’s a Gesamtkunstwerk bringing together Greek and Roman classical architecture with Egyptian and Pompeiian motifs, with unique ceilings in each room in the grotesque style. It’s a jewel box of color and proportion, with dazzling volumes framing his beautiful marble and plaster works. When we at Campbell-Rey were working on our new rug collection for Nordic Knots, we were inspired by it as we felt great affinity with the artist, being from northern Europe ourselves, but continually inspired by ancient Mediterranean cultures.”

La Bandita, Tarquinia
“Chilean surrealist artist Roberto Matta’s former home and studio in Tarquinia—a city northwest of Rome—is now cared for by his daughter Alisée Matta. It’s a reformed monastery that houses his archive alongside many of his paintings, sculptures, furniture designs, and eclectic personal collections. Originally an architect working with Le Corbusier, as well as Alvar Aalto and Walter Gropius, his fantastical world, including the gardens by Gianmatteo Malchiodi, is a wonder. I was lucky enough to visit last summer and was blown away by the magnitude and width of his output, from cast-bronze cutlery and carved wooden dining chairs to terra-cotta sculptures and huge murals.”

Stoclet House, Brussels
“Designed in the Vienna Secession style and built in the early 20th century, this private mansion on the outskirts of Brussels is considered Josef Hoffmann’s masterpiece. Integrating major arts like architecture with the perceived minor arts, the decoratives, and breaking with styles of the past, it was the first residential project of the Wiener Werkstätte, and Hoffmann designed everything of and in it, down to the door handles and light fittings. There are large mosaic friezes by Gustav Klimt in the dining room. Sadly it’s not open to the public—it’s privately owned by the Stoclet family—but photography of it exists and is well worth a google.”

Cosmic House, London
“American landscape architect, designer, and cultural theorist Charles Jencks specialized in postmodernism and was an architectural historian, and he was known for his incredible Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland. He built a house for his family in Holland Park in London called The Cosmic House, and it opened to the public last year after Jencks’ passing in 2019 and is often described as the spiritual home of postmodernist design in the UK. It’s a must-visit for any architecture buff.”

From left: Nicole Eisenman’s “The Abolitionists in the Park,” 2020-21. Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; Takesada Matsutani in his studio in Paris. Photo: Laura Stevens

Remembering Richard Serra’s Paintings; a South African Photographer’s London Debut; a Japanese Emigré Flexes His Creativity 60 Years On

Chicago, “Nicole Eisenman: What Happened” (Until Sept. 22)
“We have to have a sense of humor,” says artist Nicole Eisenman. It’s a philosophy that comes through in her paintings: portraits of togetherness that are bright and busy while reflecting sober issues of the present. To Eisenman, the beauty of intimacy offers hope. The MCA presents the first major survey of her work, with murals from her early career in New York to her pertinent work of today.

Joshua Tree, “JINEN” (Opens Apr. 19)
This traveling exhibition begins in Joshua Tree, where organic sculptures will be set against the desert setting, and then will head to the redwoods off California’s Mendocino coast. Presented by Curator’s Cube Tokyo gallery, the exhibition brings together new works by four of their represented artists: Dan John Anderson, Ido Yoshimoto, Kazunori Hamana, and Yu Kobayashi. Inspired by one another and the natural world, the pieces include sculptures of salvaged redwood and large painted ceramic pots.

London, “Lindokuhle Sobekwa: Heart of the Garden” (Until May 8)
This is South African photographer Lindokuhle Sobekwa’s debut in London, at Goodman Gallery. His newest body of work is a documentation of his birthplace near Johannesburg and his grandmother’s home in the Eastern Cape, through which Sobekwa explores the lasting effects of apartheid—which divided rural and urban areas—on his family history.

London, “Richard Serra: Six Large Drawings” (Until May 18)
Following American artist Richard Serra’s passing late last month, David Zwirner gallery presents six of his paintings—the last exhibit conceived by Serra in his lifetime. Depicting rich geometry produced by thick strokes of black paintstick, the paintings reflect the play between mass and depth that the late artist revolutionized.

Los Angeles, “Hippolyte Bayard: A Persistent Pioneer” (Until July 7)
A little-known pioneer in the history of photography, Hippolyte Bayard was a French bureaucrat who invented his own method of photography, the direct positive process. He also presented the first-ever photograph exhibit in 1839. The Getty Museum brings his influence full circle, exhibiting his carefully captured photographs, including the world’s first staged self-portraits.

New York City, “Somewhere to Roost” (Opens Apr. 12)
This exhibit’s title is taken from “Birds Got to Have Somewhere to Roost,” an artwork by the late American artist Thornton Dial Sr., whose work addresses racial oppression in the United States. With the theme of “home” in mind, The American Folk Art Museum brings together 60 textiles, photographs, and sculptures to examine what home means to different artists.

Paris, “Matsutani” (Until May 19)
Osaka-born artist Takesada Matsutani has lived and worked in Paris for the past 60 years, and his momentum has not slowed. Known for his use of wood glue to create bubbling and dripping canvases, Matsutani’s works all share a lifelike three-dimensional quality. Showcasing his impressive career, Hauser & Wirth presents older, rarely seen works alongside his newest pieces created for the show. —Vasilisa Ioukhnovets

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