To launch the gallery’s partnership with acclaimed British designer, artist and creative director Samuel Ross, Friedman Benda will present a solo booth of Ross’ work at Design Miami/, 2021.
Emblematic of his all-encompassing, conceptually rigorous approach, Ross will transmute the traditional fair booth into a quasi-industrial setting. The space, caught between construction and deconstruction, acts as a liminal staging ground for select works from three discrete but intersecting series: SIGNAL, RUPTURE and AMORPHOUS STRAND.
Constructed through intentional, ritualistically inflected fabrication processes, Ross’ bodies of work traverse a nuanced psycho-socio-geographic terrain. Located in three centuries of the Black experience, the collective and individual territories navigated are ones forged by international trade and commodification and now underscored by the pervasiveness of post-industrialized Western culture.
SIGNAL sees Ross concentrate on notions of survival, impermissible scarification and hopeful, yet wholly unassured, recovery from inflicted wounds. Amorphous forms are rubberized and OSB—a decimated and then reconstituted, grainless man-made material—is stained with molasses lacquer or gently waxed. Milled steel die-cut rounds puncture backs and seats, inclusions that disrupt and distort once coherent planes.
RUPTURE shifts to grapple with concepts of connection, severance, incongruity, and abstraction. Obtuse marble forms, connoting the monolith, are propped on seemingly too slender geometries of powder-coated steel, finished in Ross’ signature Safety Orange. Operating as a moniker, the works exemplify historic absurdities that reflect homogenization as a normative when contextualizing the diaspora’s being.
AMORPHOUS STRAND sees Ross dive into the causality of the thematic concerns addressed by SIGNAL & RUPTURE. Scorched fragments of OSB, warped into distorted ligaments, twist familiar industrial forms out of easy recognition. Reflective of scar tissue, the series is a case study on compounded experiences and the concept of stress, contortion & absurdity as an operational state of being.
Executed eruditely, in line with Ross’ singular vision and trademark precision, all three series pull formal through lines that collide West African furniture archetypes with Eurocentric tropes of Modernism, Brutalism and Color Theory. The confronting fusion of references fissures the hierarchical dominance of Western intellectualism. Via the clefts created, an access point is made possible for the intensive examination of the impact of contemporary culture’s absolutes on collective experience.
ABOUT SAMUEL ROSS
Born in Brixton in 1991, Samuel Ross graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Illustration at De Montfort University, Leicester. Upon graduation, Ross embarked on a career as a product designer, working for a number of high-profile brands, advertising agencies and industrial design practices. In 2015, Ross self-funded his label, A-COLD-WALL*– renowned for its material investigation and innovation, married with incisive explorations of Brutalist and abstract forms and precise execution. During the Hublot Prize exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2019, Ross launched his latest venture – SR_A (Samuel Ross & Associates), an industrial design studio operating within the fields of interior installation, architecture, furniture design, sound design and sculptural/visual communication.
Ross’ accolades include being named the British Fashion Awards’ Emerging Menswear Designer (2018) and receiving the Hublot Design Prize (2019). In 2020, he was named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 [Europe] and won both the GQ USA Fashion Award and People of the Year British Fashion Award, the latter specifically for his philanthropic endeavors. He has also been a finalist for both the LVMH Prize and ANDAM Award. He has collaborated with brands, including Converse, Dr Marten’s, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, and Oakley, as well as noteworthy artists Daniel Arsham, Futura and Takashi Murakami. Specific SR_A partnerships include those with Apple, Beats, Nike, Medicom and Hublot LVMH. Ross lives and works in London, UK.