Cranbrook: A New Domestic Landscape features contemporary furniture and furnishings by recent alumni and Artists-in-Residence of Cranbrook Academy of Art, including Friedman Benda designer Chris Schanck. The work challenges conventions of use, explores new materials and techniques, and blurs the boundaries between art, craft, and design. Long a hotbed of experimental design, Cranbrook Academy of Art has played an important role in envisioning artifacts for living—from the handcrafted production of the Arts and Crafts period, the birth of mid-century modernism in America, to the art furniture movement of the 1980s. Today, this progressive approach continues with artists, architects, and designers who expand these legacies of handcrafted production, custom fabrication, and experiments in form, materials, and processes in their own unique ways.
The exhibition takes its title from the landmark 1972 exhibition, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, curated by Emilio Ambasz for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Just as Ambasz had argued for a heterogeneous approach to design that challenged its modern orthodoxy of “form follows function,” contemporary producers continue many of its avant-garde experiments, but with a renewed sense of material experimentation and a continued contestation of an object’s symbolic meaning, ritual use, and functional constraints.