Stadler has divided the exhibition into five themes: Artificial Intelligence, Morphing of the Natural into the Artificial, Forms of Random/Control and Digital Fragmentation, Instability and Fetishism, and Informed Objects. This is his second curatorial show following Quiz at Galerie Poirel in Nancy, France in 2014, which questioned the status of artists and designers’ work. Stadler collaborated on it with Alexis Vaillant, who curated the Dresden show initiated by museum director Tulga Beyerle. The objects that Stadler has picked from the SKD collections hinge on tension – such as a small, ancient Egyptian stone in the form of a rounded cube. “Is it a cube that became rounder with time or was it created in this precise form?” asks Stadler excitedly. Nearby will be Possible Furniture (2008), formed from stacked elements of irregularly shaped slabs that are faintly geological, and PdT (2015), inspired by the hewn-stone Haussmannien architecture in Paris made from ashlar. They’ re supposed to resemble blocks excavated from buildings, worn down into domestic shapes. Rest in Peace (2004), a revisitation of the Thonet chair, is meant to recall a skeletal relic of the future. “It was about evoking an archaeological piece, as if a plastic chair had decomposed, but obviously the process is artificially created”, clarifies Stadler.
We are meeting in Stadler’ s studio near the Place de la République. Stadler has been based in Paris since his industrial design studies at the École nationale supérieure de création industrielle (ENSCI), having previously studied at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. In 1992, he co-founded the design group RADI, which remained active until 2008. Furnishing his studio are the Mood mobile, Chair 107 (the bistro chair for Thonet), and Hatchlight, so-called because the gold adhesive hatches out of the black circumference. Two small dinosaurs from a flea market decorate the windowsill, and a burnt piece of blue adhesive film is stuck onto the window –it’ s from an experiment that went wrong, but Stadler likes its accidental beauty. This intermingling of his own work with ordinary objects is analogous to his Dresden show, suggestive of how Stadler revels in provoking the unexpected.
The dialogue with Noguchi continues at the Collective Design Fair in New York in May, where Carpenters Workshop Gallery is unveiling Waiting Room: Noguchi/Stadler. It’ s a forest-like installation of nine of Stadler’ s Anywhere lighting devices, onto which are hung the same number of Noguchi's Akari paper lamp sculptures. Stadler conceived Anywhere – a carbon fibre arm that enables a ceiling lamp to be hung from it at any position in its rotation – in 2011, but has reworked it. This and his cut_paste pieces are being presented concurrently in asolo show at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York. Meanwhile, Stadler’ s newest You Name It shelving unit, with a 3D-printed UFO sliding across it like a collision of craftsmanship and digital innovation, ison Triple V’ s stand at Frieze New York.
What else would he like to do? “I’ d like to work on a film”, replies Stadler, who created Tephra Formations (2013), furniture for a musical and theatrical performance about the life of a sofa at the Centre Pompidou. “Cinema interests me because it mixes reality and fiction and is subjected to a constraint of objects.” Indeed, Stadler is a cerebral individual who carves his way using willpower, curiosity, and imagination.
You May Also Like: Robert Stadler is at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau in Dresden, Germany, 18 March – 25 June 2017.
Robert Stadler: Solid Doubts at The Noguchi Museum is at the Noguchi Museum in New York, 26 April – 03 September 2017.
Robert Stadler: Weight Class is at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York, 27 April –18 June 2017.
Robert Stadler’ s work is on view at the Collective Design Fair 05-07 May 2017 and at Frieze 03-07 May 2017, in New York.
Robert Stadler: Invasive Shifting Absurd Exercise is published by Editions de La Martinière.