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Carpenters Workshop Gallery comes to India

The global design gallery, Carpenters Workshop, is all set to curate a segment at the India Art Fair's inaugural design section

Julien Lombrail (left) and Loïc Le Gaillard, founders of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Courtesy: Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Julien Lombrail (left) and Loïc Le Gaillard, founders of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Courtesy: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The acclaimed global design gallery, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, with centres in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles, is going showcase its curatorial process in India. In an email interview, the founders, Julien Lombrail and Loic Le Gaillard, discuss the role of technology in collectible design and the kind of visual language they look for in artists. Edited excerpts:

How does the gallery’s inaugural booth at the India Art Fair carry forth its ethos, which is to celebrate crafts of a region?

The gallery’s core ethos is to offer artists and designers a platform to explore and look beyond the limits of their creative expression, while also committing to the preservation of traditional craft. Our inaugural booth at the India Art Fair is an example of this commitment. Collaborating with Ashiesh Shah brought a unique perspective to the table. Shah, with his extensive background in architecture and design, shared a common vocabulary with us. Everywhere we go, we aim to create a community of people that embody the ethos that Carpenters Workshop Gallery has come to represent.

What is the kind of visual language and interdisciplinarity that you look for in artists?

Our journey began with a shared passion for design and art. We gravitate towards creators, who challenge limits, while crafting pieces that are both visually stunning and conceptually rich. We’re always visiting new studios and considering new talent, and are incredibly proud of the roster of artists that we have brought together over the course of the last 17 years.

Also read: Art Special 2024: The rise of the artist-designer

Nacho Carbonell, ‘Lily Pad Tree’, (2018). Courtesy: Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Nacho Carbonell, ‘Lily Pad Tree’, (2018). Courtesy: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

While art has emerged as a safe choice for investment and as a collectible, design is still viewed from a functional point of view. How is the design-art object emerging as a viable collectible now?

There is a growing global appetite for contemporary collectible design, and we are very tuned into that. The lines are becoming more blurred between art and design. For example, increasingly contemporary art galleries are exhibiting works by talents that are traditionally better known as designers. The contemporary art market is, of course, more mature now. Compared to that, while the contemporary collectible design ecosystem is growing quickly, its starting point is evolving. Now, it is trying to catch up with the former, and collectors are embracing these design objects not only for their creativity, but also for their conceptual intent and artistry. We cater to a diverse range of collectors as design possesses a more democratic appeal than visual art and is, in certain instances, more accessible to consumers. The works that we offer are neither singularly art nor design, they are the perfect mix of both.

What is the kind of expression that you are seeing emerge, particularly in the Global South?

Collectible design provides an expansive platform for designers and artists to unleash their creativity in ways often constrained by the commercial design sphere. This liberty permits the emergence of distinctive expressions and material explorations that redefine conventional norms. Today, the key to leaving a mark in design is to blend traditional craftsmanship with modern innovation. In regions like India, the landscape is marked by a fusion of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics, resulting in visually striking and culturally resonant pieces. Designers are drawing inspiration from their heritage, incorporating traditional motifs, craftsmanship techniques and locally sourced materials. As a gallery committed to pushing boundaries, we find this intersection of tradition and modernity in design particularly compelling, as it adds a unique dimension to the global conversation on collectible design.

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What is the design of the various spaces of Carpenter Workshop Gallery, and how do they contribute to the different expressions of design?

Initially, we aimed to create a space that encouraged artists and designers to think outside of conventional methods, where functional objects become sculptural pieces and techniques of making are celebrated. It made sense for us to pick an unconventional space, which was true of our original carpenter’s workshop in Chelsea and still is today for Ladbroke Hall, our new flagship space in London. Since then, the design philosophy behind the spaces at Carpenter Workshop Gallery has been rooted in creating dynamic environments that not only house art but also become a part of the narrative. Our galleries are meticulously curated to adapt themselves to the varied expressions of art and design, ensuring a seamless integration between the space and the exhibited works. Each gallery is a carefully crafted backdrop that is staged to enhance and reflect the essence of the works within.

What is the role of technology in the way artists respond to design?

Technology is providing a platform for experimentation, innovation and the realisation of intricate concepts. Whether through digital modelling, advanced fabrication techniques or interactive installations, technology enables artists to push the boundaries of traditional design, fostering a dynamic landscape in the intersection of art and technology.

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