"Give Joy" at Guild Green, Brooklyn
An Aldo Tura ice bucket on an Aldo Tura presentation table.
Both covered in dyed parchment (goatskin). Aldo Tura’s parchment dyes are unmatched today.
The Kay Bogensen penguin has an articulated neck and the grain of the wood is incorporated into the sleek form of the bird.
1953 Knoll chair with a Bitossi (Italian) ceramic floor lamp and a biomorphic wood sculpture (artist unknown).
George Nelson desk, 1950’s, Austin Cox homage to Picasso’s Goat,
Arne Jacobsen Coffee Set and Primitive African mask.
A rare modernist chess set features an architectural idiom of streamlined sculptural pieces
with I-beam shaped bases. Designed by Austin Cox for Alcoa Aluminum. Circa 1962
On a quiet little street in Clinton Hill sits Guild Greene Gallery, located in the original 1890s headquarters and laboratory for Bristol Myers. This century, the building has been reimagined as a gallery, tucked gently into the local scenery, the kind of gem you casually come across in Brooklyn more often than not. This holiday season, Guild Greene hosts “Give Joy,” a salon exhibition of art, objects, furniture, toys, and holiday decorations, now through the holidays.
The collection includes works by furniture designers Charles & Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Milo Baughman, Edward Wormley, Vladimir Kagan, Harvey Probber, Ward Bennett, and George Nelson; painters Kris Krohn, Kamilla Talbot, Robert Goldstrom and Louis Donato; jewelry artists Lori Kaplan, Mary MacGill, and Lisa Jenks; toys and wreaths by Kathy Urbina, barware by Aldo Tura, and prints by Lloyd Miller, among others. “Give Joy” is curated by design team Marla Dekker and Kevork Babian, the proprietors of townhouse.bz.
An online boutique and appointment-only salon based in Brooklyn, townhouse.bz supplies mid-century furniture and decorative art to architects, interior designers, and collectors. Dekker and Babian could be called “mid-century moderns” themselves: born in the 1950s, they were educated by modernist masters during the 1970s. The company was was born in 2010, when Dekker designed a website to put a public face on the business and expanding the market beyond private appointments. And in a twist fit for the Digital Age, the desire to show work in real time and real space had finally taken hold when Kris Krohn of Guild Greene Gallery invited townhouse.bz to participate in a group show in spring 2014.
Babian notes, “We were pleasantly surprised by how many of our pieces were well-received there. Kris invited us to do our first solo show. We were initially hesitant to produce a solo show in August, because that’s when everyone goes on vacation, but that show, ‘Faux Real’, was very successful. We got to know so many people in the neighborhood, and so many people who came over from Bed-Stuy. They would come to eat at Speedy Romeo’s or Mariettas and made Guild Greene Gallery their own little destination place.
“Many people would come to the show, then come back a week later to purchase a piece. Showing the work salon style really changed the way people were looking at the work. They had the chance to pick up and look at the work. They could get a feeling of its quality, and spend time with it. People really studied the paintings on the wall or the tablescapes we created. And they would return for the piece they really wanted.
“It’s fun to have a physical space in the neighborhood. That’s the inspiration for ‘Give Joy’: To have fun and have joy in your heart. We chose pieces that have a humorous side, pieces we could pair with more serious work. People want to look at things up close, ‘smell the rubber’ so to speak. People want to see and to touch things. They want individual pieces they can pick up and talk about.”
The salon style design of the installation changes the viewer’s relationship to the art, and by consequence their understanding of its place in their life. When freed from the confines of the traditional white box, furniture, objects, and artwork becomes enlivened by its ability to interplay with the setting itself. In this milieu, each work plays a part, illustrating not just its own qualities but how it interacts with the larger environment, at once more personal and at home in the world. When considering the display of art in an salon environment, the curators reveal their understanding of the act of display itself.
Dekker observes, “We delight in juxtapositions of visual styles, materials, and eras. As graphic designers, we are always searching for context and cross references in our work and the work of others. It makes sense to us to present our curated pieces in the same way. We are showing Aldo Tura with Kay Bojenson together. There is a playfulness in both designers’ work and in the discovery of their similarities and differences, all from the modernist genre. We believe that although mid-century designers were aiming for a streamlined form follows function aestethic, they were also looking to create for eye catching designs that not only incorporate functional design but also start a conversation.”
Dekker and Babian curate each exhibition salon style, creating intimate vignettes where viewers can lose themselves in the display, a still life made alive by the juxtaposition of art. Babian observes, “There is something nice about a total environment, about how everything in the room comes together. It affects how you feel, the placement of the objects. Where you place the pieces and how they look can give people inspiration as to what they can possibly do with the work. Guild Greene Gallery is a wonderful space because of its large scale. It offers many possibilities.”
With “Give Joy” townhouse.bz aims to do just that this holiday season. By restoring the pleasures of the sensual world, the act of giving a gift becomes an art. To know exactly what to gift is to know that person’s heart. Art, as an object of contemplation, is one path to the palace of the eternal. Give Joy, indeed.
Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge, matching chrome tri-leg coffee table, on table top clockwise from 10 o’clock:
Bruce Fox aluminum bowl, Holme Gaarde glass crystal bowl, Ward Bennett bowl,
Kay Bogensen Penguin, Live edge burl bowl, Alvar Aalto pair of bowls. 1950s thru 1970s
The Marathon Man sculpture (artist unknown) is representative of the modernist, brutalist aesthetic.
Lisa Jenks sterling silver contemporary jewelry is influenced by primitive shapes and patterns.
French influenced daybed with Bernhard Rohme coffee table. 1970s.
Lloyd Miller limited edition prints
Lloyd Miller limited edition prints