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Cranbrook Art Museum exhibition features work from alumni and artists-in-residence
Scott Klinker, Orblights, 2015. LED lights, black acrylic, wood, wiring. Photo courtesy of the artist.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICH.- Cranbrook Art Museum opened a new exhibition, Cranbrook: A New Domestic Landscape, which features contemporary furniture and furnishings by recent alumni and Artists-in-Residence of Cranbrook Academy of Art. The work challenges conventions of use, explores new materials and techniques, and blurs the boundaries between art, craft, and design. The exhibition runs from May 12, 2017 through January 14, 2018.

Long a hotbed of experimental design, Cranbrook Academy of Art has played an important role in envisioning artifacts for living—from the handcrafted production of the Arts and Crafts period, the birth of mid-century modernism in America, to the art furniture movement of the 1980s. Today, this progressive approach continues with artists, architects, and designers who expand these legacies of handcrafted production, custom fabrication, and experiments in form, materials, and processes in their own unique ways.

“Cranbrook is practically synonymous with modern furniture design, with designers like Eero and Pipsan Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Niels Diffrient, and Florence Knoll,” says Andrew Blauvelt, Director of Cranbrook Art Museum and a 1988 graduate of the Academy's Design department. “Today, a new generation of Cranbrook artists continues to push the boundaries of furniture design. Just like their predecessors, they are experimenting with new forms and materials, showcasing their work in important venues around the world, and adopting an entrepreneurial attitude.”

Blauvelt continues, “This show demonstrates that the current generation of designers deftly blends the craft and smaller scale production of the Arts and Crafts era and the material and technical experiments from mid-century modernism with practices that are more akin to that of a contemporary artist to create utterly unique solutions to the age-old problems of furniture design.”

The exhibition features graduates from a variety of Academy of Art departments, including: 3D Design, Architecture, Ceramics, and Metalsmithing. For instance, Detroit-based Chris Schanck (3D Design ’11) uses steel, foam and metallic foil to craft signature work at the Dior boutique and Tom Ford flagship stores in New York. Or Vivian Beer (Metals ’04), a 2017 United States Artists Fellow and the first winner of “Ellen’s Design Challenge” on HGTV, uses materials like bronze, stainless steel, concrete and automotive paint to marry industrial design with the decorative arts.

This fall, Cranbrook will host a symposium related to the exhibition exploring the contemporary connections between design, art, and craft that are creating new models of practice.

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