On November 5, Friedman Benda opened an expansive exhibition called What Would Have Been. On the heels of a tumultuous and unprecedented cycle of global events, the gallery will share a trove of design from over 30 studios originally destined for exhibition in galleries, fairs, and museums across five continents.
What Would Have Been shows us what we have been missing and points forward; it fills in the blank spaces, offers new direction and represents a coming together of voices. The show tells a story of design that juxtaposes established designers with newcomers without predictability from either, and prompts a re-examination of assumptions consistent with current events at large.
The exhibition makes accessible design that lost its intended platform; works shown briefly before museum doors closed or failed to open at all in Atlanta, Ghent, Melbourne, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Shanghai, Wiltshire, and further; works commissioned for festivals and art fairs including the London Biennale, TEFAF, The Salon, Design Miami Basel; and works that were slated for the gallery in Chelsea before the New York art community shutdown.
What Would Have Been provides a platform not only for work that lost its expected audience in 2020 but gives a first opportunity to engage with bodies of work and narratives that have come to brilliant fruition during this same time period. They emerged because of, or in spite of, the seismic shifts in the familiar political, social, and economic order. They are an affirmation of what can be accomplished when society retreats physically but remains hyper-connected digitally. And they represent the uninterrupted dialogue and partnership with makers, studios, museums, and design audiences across the world that is at the heart of the gallery mission.
Consistent with the period that inspired it, What Would Have Been takes place not only in the gallery but also online, marking the tension and dialogue between these two spaces.
All works from both venues will be included in a digital catalogue by Glenn Adamson. A full list of practices to follow:
Ini Archibong [American, b. 1983]
Daniel Arsham [American, b. 1980]
Andrea Branzi [Italian, b. 1938]
Paul S. Briggs [American, b. 1963]
Estudio Campana [est. 1983, São Paulo]
Wendell Castle [American, 1932-2018]
Byung Hoon Choi [Korean, b. 1952]
Paul Cocksedge [British, b. 1978]
Carmen D’Apollonio [Swiss, b. 1973]
Andile Dyalvane [South African, b. 1978]
Najla El Zein [Lebanese, French b. 1983]
Front Design [est. 2004, Sweden]
Bruno Gambone [Italian, b. 1936]
gt2P (Great Things to People) [est. 2009, Santiago]
Florian Idenburg (SO-IL) [Dutch, b. 1975]
Misha Kahn [American, b. 1989]
Shiro Kuramata [Japanese, 1934-1991]
Joris Laarman [Dutch, b. 1979]
John Mason [American, 1927-2019]
Raphael Navot [Israeli, b. 1977]
nendo [est. 2002, Tokyo]
Erez Nevi Pana [Israeli, b. 1983]
OrtaMiklos [est. 2015, Paris and Eindhoven]
Gaetano Pesce [Italian, b. 1939]
Raw-Edges [est. 2007, London]
Samuel Ross [British, b. 1991]
Chris Schanck [American, b. 1975]
Mattias Sellden [Swidish, b. 1986]
Adam Silverman [American, b. 1963]
Ettore Sottsass [Italian, 1917-2007]
Faye Toogood [British, b. 1977)
Toomas Toomepuu [American, b. 1995]
Jonathan Trayte [British, b. 1980]
Marcel Wanders [Dutch, b. 1963]
Thaddeus Wolfe [American, b. 1979]