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Five international design studios invited to address Dresden Museum of Decorative Arts' collection
Installation view of the exhibition. Photo: Oliver Killig.

DRESDEN.- The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) has invited five international design studios to address its collection: Daphna Laurens (Netherlands), Dechem (Czech Republic), Judith Seng (Germany), Loris & Livia (Switzerland) and mischer’traxler (Austria). They were given glimpses into the Depot; the facility where the museum stores its knowledge, reflecting the collection's huge variety. During the viewings, the designers selected items which they now present at the exhibition “Trading places. Designers meet the collection”.

The result is a remarkable exhibition: the teams of young designers offer their view of the holdings in five rooms. This surprising viewpoint is an enrichment to the collection, which has until now mainly been the subject of academic exploration.

Loris & Livia, whose studio is in London, thus dedicate their installation to historical textiles, or rather their reverse sides. The patterns, so well-defined on the front, produce a modern-looking, graphically abstract mixture on the back. Inspired by the Kunstgewerbemuseum's lace and wickerwork, Judith Seng, from Berlin, will be creating a supersized work of pillow lace in a “ribbon dance” performance. Searching the Depot, Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler of the Viennese studio mischer'traxler discovered old panels used to present textiles. Their work is based on the “everlasting shadows” left on these panels under the influence of sunlight and time. Using a chemical procedure, they transferred these marks onto new surfaces and altered them. The designers from Daphna Laurens, of Eindhoven, took inspiration from a pair of Oriental scissors to create kinetic works: the purpose of the precious piece is only revealed when it moves. Finally, in another room, the designers' engagement with the collection takes on a sensory note: fascinated by the atmosphere in the Depot, Dechem Studio of Prague created Fragments of Fragrance, a perfume which takes visitors on a journey behind the scenes at the museum.

Thanks to the design studios' work, the exhibition re-explores the Kunstgewerbemuseum's collection, developing innovative forms of presentation. In this way, the museum opens up its collection to a contemporary interpretation, taking into account the idea behind its founding as the site of a dialogue between artists, manufacturers and visitors. Thus, the shift of position and viewpoint offered by Trading places can point the way to new means of approach and interpretation.

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