If you want to understand what is abstract-conceptual design, go to the new exhibition, ‘50 Manga Chairs,’ by Japanese design group Nendo, at Friedman Benda Gallery. While at first glance, the gallery looks like a storage of chairs of various shapes, projecting to different directions, when you look at them closely, you realize that they capture various personalities, states of mins, the archetypes of manga comics. First introduced at the Chiostro Minore di San Simpliciano in April during the Salone del Mobile Milano, the American debut presents chairs which are meticulously crafted of polish steel, witty and elegant, each represents a different behavior, each has its own personality. One represents happiness, another embarrassment, surprise, and together, as a group, they capture a collective narrative. The Japanese design group, founded by Oki Sato has made its name with conceptual design, formed by aesthetics rooted in Japanese heritage and vocabularies. While conceptual design of the 21st century has tended to address such issues as environmental and social problems, and rooted in a constant dialogue with advances in science and technology, while representing life in our age, it often tends to be serious. It is therefore refreshing to visit a show with so much humor, where you cannot help yourself but put a big smile on your face.
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