By Adrian Madlener
January 14, 2021
Architects design furniture for lots of reasons—some practical, some artistic, some financial. A pair of shows at the Friedman Benda Gallery in Chelsea puts those motives in the spotlight. Mark McDonald, who has been buying and selling important 20th-century design for more than 40 years, has filled the gallery’s glass-fronted main space with a greatest hits collection by Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and other masters. In the basement “project space,” independent curator Juan Garcia Mosqueda is showcasing new furniture by nine emerging architecture practices.
The furniture in the upstairs show, called “Inside the Walls: Architects Design”, was in most cases created by architects for specific projects—houses, restaurants, and hotels—with functionality a key concern. By contrast, the pieces by the young architects were made, generally, the way art is made, as one-offs or in small editions, with collectors in mind. Not surprisingly, the pieces in the downstairs show, slyly called “No-Thing”, tend to be conceptual. Says Mosqueda, “The architects in my show welcome and champion uncertainty, a de facto reaction against the 20th-century masters upstairs.”