Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics is a group show of modern porcelain design and artwork. The 200 pieces of inventive, highly varied objects are items of everyday use that have been artistically re-thought and manipulated.
For this exhibition, Wendy Joseph Architecture’s challenge was to show each porcelain piece distinctively and without hierarchy. Designers chose a font called History for the show’s title. Fortuitously echoing the conceptual theme of the artwork and installation, it literally combines a serif and a sans serif version of the same letter, speaking to the past and present at the same time.
The visual identity for the show is shaped by a highly dense Delft Blue color and by the idea of silhouette. Where possible, artwork is seen in silhouette against the contrasting blue background. The limited color palette added to the abstract reading of planes, setting off the more realistic sculptural pieces on display. The color reaches beyond the individual pieces and displays to connect the gallery, breaking the reading of three adjacent boxes.
The building floor plan is 2,200 sq. ft., divided into three sections reflecting the three types of projects: some lyrical, some skeptical, and some that incorporate technology. The design team used the museum’s C-shaped plan as an opportunity to create intimate zones within the overall identity of the exhibition.
A special consideration was to design casework that could be re-used for future exhibitions at the museum. Careful thought was given to the durability, mutability, and standardization of the display elements while also making them special and specific to this exhibition of ceramic art.
The exhibition features three basic systems of display, which will be re-used. Linear, 36-in.-high platforms and shelves give the gallery an expansive feeling while unifying the multitude of diverse pieces. Plinths with acrylic bonnets provide moments of density and distinction amongst the variety of art works. Last, two dioramas are used to present larger works of art and to enhance the beautiful effect of shadow and reflection. None of the displays touch the blue walls, maintaining the Brancusian strategy of silhouette.
To conserve resources and make the best use of funding for the museum’s new space, the casework’s flexibility and adaptability were critical. The table supports are designed as symmetrical fins that make an equidistant reading in either direction for re-arrangement. Vitrines and bases can be added to shelter more fragile works. All surfaces are painted plywood, and can be easily assembled and secured.
Wendy Evans Joseph (lead designer), Jonathan Lee (project designer), Florio Design (graphic design)
Wendy Evans Joseph Architecture
Random Enterprises (fabrication, installation), Museum of Arts and Design (artwork mounting)