From 24 September 2016 to 29 January 2017, the Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux
(madd) hosts an exhibition displaying more than 300 pieces from the Fonds national dart contemporain, the National Contemporary Art Collection, and organized by the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap). This collection, one of the largest in Europe, contains some of the most significant works of contemporary designers, French and international alike.
This project is an opportunity to display pieces of furniture and other objects the context which was originally theirs: a domestic world. The exhibition is thus being held in two venues, two extraordinary houses. The first one, the Hôtel de Lalande, built in the 18th century, which still has its original wooden panelling and parquet flooring, is listed as a UNESCO heritage jewel and houses the musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux. The other is a fine example of contemporary and private architecture, emblematic of a modern dwelling which re-invents the relations between exterior and interior, between space and function, and between property and furniture, just a stones throw from Bordeauxs city centre.
The pieces which are being exhibited have been designed for a specific house, and not to be isolated on a stand. The musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux displays these items of furniture devised by designers in household-scaled rooms. No sets, but an everyday mise en scène-like presentation, in an old home, in the city, and in a contemporary home in the midst of nature. Two contrasting places, which have nevertheless been built to respond to the same challenge: to accommodate a family in a livable environment. In both cases, two centuries apart, the daily round has been cradled by objects, and the furniture has witnessed the goingson of life.
Today, these designs have been re-invented. For the duration of the exhibition, these two dwelling-places have become special settings for the contemporary pieces from the Cnap collection. When the selection process started, it became quickly clear that these houses architecture were strong and imposing. The decisions made by the exhibitions curators have been constructed in response to these specific contexts.
Presenting the Cnap collection in a private residence, where some rooms have kept their function since the buildings origins, and in a private home in which the owners currently live, means above all lending a certain density to objects for which, too often, exhibitions only highlight their visual beauty. Once positioned, their functional qualities are easier to grasp for visitors. Visitors will see how they create a particular atmosphere, and the extent to which they are the guarantors of the ambience of a space.
In these architectures, where contemporary pieces thus mingle with others, there are novel encounters, temporarily creating pictures which are both domestic and unusual.