Carwan Gallery brings OMG-GMO, a much-anticipated new commission by Paris-based designer Robert Stadler, to Fuorisalone 2023 — with an exhibition in Milan curated by Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte. More than two years in the making, the project is a series of whimsical ceramic functional objects, handmade by the leading Italian, family-owned ceramics company BITOSSI Ceramiche. A preview of the project took place last fall, inside Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House pavilion in New Canaan, Connecticut. OMG-GMO is exclusively available for acquisitions through Carwan Gallery. The exhibition is presented in partnership with Association 5VIE, as part of their official selection of curated projects for Milan Design Week.
Known for his diverse work — which includes industrial design, installation, curation, and performance — Austrian-born designer Robert Stadler has been engaging with current issues in a critical and intellectual way throughout his decades-long career. For his special commission for Carwan Gallery, the designer offers a witty comment on the relationship between humans and their environment, as seen through the genetic manipulation of fruit and vegetables. Spotless yellow bananas, fleshy avocados, leeks, carrots, and many other staples of our shopping baskets are transformed into humorous functional objects, in what is perhaps the designer’s most playful work to date.
The history of representing fruitage and other produce in art and design is probably as long as the history of art itself. From ancient vessels shaped as their contents, to fanciful Arcimboldo paintings and Renaissance still lifes featuring cornucopias of food, the relationship between produce and aesthetics has been very strong and persists to this day. In dialogue with this tradition, Robert Stadler’s OMG-GMO highlights the artificiality of the tame fruit and vegetables we cultivate and consume, highlighting the fact that their current form is the result of a very long process of agricultural domestication, selective breeding, and bioengineering. Patiently “designed” over thousands of years, farming products such as tomatoes, bananas, aubergines, and many more have little resemblance to their wild, undomesticated relatives. In more recent years, this engineering has become even more extreme, incorporating genetic modification and sophisticated cultivation techniques that give fruit and vegetables of almost artificial perfection and symmetry — such as square watermelons, straight cucumbers, seedless oranges, calibrated cherries, white strawberries, and more.
For the OMG-GMO project, Robert Stadler borrows the forms of these engineered fruit and vegetables to create ten ceramic, hand-painted objects that ironically transform the organic into something structural and functional. Conceived as a series of small-scale monuments, these objects both criticise and mock human manipulation of nature: a slice of a Japanese rectangular seedless watermelon becomes a stool, zucchini bend in a perfect L shape to create a set of shelves, and wheel-like aubergines support a glass coffee table, as a reference to Gae Aulenti’s Tavolo con Ruote. Each object transforms a fruit or vegetable in a functional and clever way, with the master ceramicists at BITOSSI copying in detail their colour and texture.
After Milan, OMG-GMO will travel to Greece, for an exhibition at Carwan’s flagship space in Piraeus, during the summer of 2023.
Photo credits : Alejandro Ramirez Orosco