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September 2011

CAM Raleigh in Raleigh, NC, Takes Major Look at Design

CAM Raleigh in Raleigh, NC, will present the exhibit, Deep Surface: Contemporary Ornament and Pattern, the first major exhibition to examine the re-emergence of ornament and pattern over the last 15 years, on view from Sept. 24 through Jan. 2, 2011.

Deep Surface celebrates its reinvigoration as a communicative, functional, and desirable form of cultural expression, across all of the disciplines of design. CAM Raleigh is a partnership between the community and North Carolina State University’s (NC State) College of Design.

The exhibition comprises of six thematic sections and features 72 remarkably inventive works from 42 international designers and artists, including such seminal works as Marcel Wanders’s Knotted Chair, wallpaper by Paul Noble and Vik Muniz for Maharam Digital Projects, and fashions created from reconstructed second-hand clothes by Junky Styling.

The breadth of the work - drawn from the fields of graphic design, industrial design, fashion, furnishings, architecture, and digital media - speaks to the pervasiveness and relevance of pattern and ornament today. Its hybrid languages are the aesthetic equivalent of the fast-paced and complex exchanges of our contemporary world.

Deep Surface features several objects that have not been shown in the United States such as Minale-Maeda’s Table Manners - and many objects that have not been exhibited outside of their originating venue, including Hella Jongerius’s Sampler Blankets commissioned by the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Deep Surface is co-curated by Denise Gonzales Crisp, Associate Professor at the North Carolina State University College of Design in Raleigh, and Susan Yelavich, Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, NY. Together, they see ornament, not as a trend, but as an exciting new chapter in a rich history of visual communication.

“This exhibition reveals the ongoing value of ornament and pattern through the work of contemporary designers and artists who are evolving deep and rich traditions,” said Denise Gonzales Crisp, cocurator of the exhibition. “We have gathered works that are ingenious, surprising, sophisticated, and innovative in their form, their story, and their use of technology. Seen here together, these pieces assert, in a variety of ways, ornament and pattern’s relevance to human expression and to the quality of every day life.”

Deep Surface presents works in a wide range of media, functionality, and scale and is organized around six themes: Amplification, Everyday, Kit-of-Parts, Inheritances, Elaboration, and Fantasy. Each reveals a different dimension and purpose behind the use of pattern and ornament, ranging from increasing social participation in the construction of everyday objects that can be as common as a chain link fence, to giving full-reign to the imagination, to bringing new life to cherished traditions. Susan Yelavich says, “These themes were carefully chosen to invite visitors to CAM Raleigh to consider the many ways that ornament and pattern engage both the eye and the mind.”

The theme of Amplification emphasizes how ornament and layers of pattern tease out an object’s layers of meaning. The work in this section features ornament that serves as interpreter and magnifies our understanding of the places and things that populate our material landscape from the extreme design of Nest Magazine to the sprawling baroque twists and turns of Joris Laarman’s Heatwave radiator.

In the category of the Everyday, visitors will see how ornament and pattern call attention and give dignity to aspects of daily life that are usually overlooked. Here, the ordinary is transformed to highlight the pleasures and paradoxes embedded in small everyday actions. Ornament makes the inconsequential of consequence, as when Turkish designer Ela Cindoruk prints the news on a humble doily.

Playful variability is explored under the theme of Kit-of-Parts. The objects included here enable people to directly participate in the act of design. This do-it-yourself approach operates on the intimate scale of a graphic logo, utilized by the Walker Art Center and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, that is meant to be manipulated as well as on the architectural scale of the domestic silhouettes created by Boym Partners.

The theme of Inheritances honors and reveals the dormant presence of the past. Here, ornament preserves history and memory, and draws on its wisdom. This work invokes tradition through a contemporary lens, by recombining the past with the present to create pleasant dissonance. History lives anew in projects like Czech designer Maxim Vel?ovský’s Vase of Vases, which was patterned by impressing antique Bohemian cut glass into its sides.

Elaboration explores the limitless nature of digital design, which generates variation on themes and can replicate pattern toward infinity. The intrinsic structure of these artifacts and systems constitute their expression, such as with the animation of real-time weather patterns by Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl of Loop.pH.

Fantasy will feature work is created to delight. It celebrates the irrational side of human nature. Designed to entertain, to tease, and sometimes provoke, artifacts that refuse to justify their existence in practical terms. Among other fantastical experiences, visitors can look forward to being mesmerized by the patterned space of Jeffery Keedy’s Ornamental Morphologies.

Deep Surface contributors include: Textiles, Surfaces, Furniture: Atelier Manferdini, United States; Boym, United States; Campana Brothers, Brazil; Committee, Great Britain; Nipa Doshi, Jonathan Levien, Great Britain; Richard Hutten, Netherlands; Iznik Foundation, Turkey; Hella Jongerius, Netherlands; Minale Maeda, Netherlands; Maharam Digital Projects, United States and Marcel Wanders, France. Graphic Design, Type Design: 2x4, United States; Marian Bantjes, United States; Peter Bilak, Czech Republic; Andrew Blauvelt, Chad Kloepfer, United States; Cuban Council (K10K), United States; Homa Delvaray, Iran ; Behrouz Hariri, Canada/Iran ; Joseph Holzman, United States; Kapitza, Great Britain; Jeffery Keedy, United States; Gail Swanlund, Geoff Kaplan, United States; Andrea Tinnes, Germany; Rudy Vanderlans, Zuzana Licko, United States and Hansje van Halem, Netherlands. Clothing: Alabama Chanin, United States and Junky Styling, Great Britain. Product Design: Tord Boontje, Netherlands; Bouroullec Brothers, France; Ela Cindoruk, Turkey; Demakersvan, Netherlands; Joris Laarman Lab, Netherlands; Lego, Denmark; Niels van Eijk, Miriam van der Lubbe, Netherlands; Maxim Vel?ovský, Czech Republic; Put-in-Cups, United States and Studio Dror, United States. Architecture: Atelier Manferdini, United States and FAT, Great Britain. Mixed Media: Ebon Heath, United States; Loop pH, Great Britain; and OSU Media Lab, United States.

CAM Raleigh will offer a series of workshops for middle and high school students that explore themes, techniques, and materials featured in the Deep Surface exhibition. Creative workshops will be offered during the exhibition’s opening celebration on Saturday, Sept. 24 and monthly First Friday evenings at the Museum providing visitors with hands-on opportunities to expand their understanding of the exhibition. A lecture series featuring exhibition curators and select designers will be offered in conjunction with the North Carolina State University College of Design.

A pop-up exhibition store located in the Museum’s lobby will be open during Museum hours. The store will feature exhibited publications such as: I wonder by typographic illustrator Marian Bantjes, Geometric, a collection of pattern designs by Kapitza, UK, a book about new media artist Jennifer Steinkamp, and a yet-to-be published book about Maharam’s Digital Projects. In addition to books about design, the store will feature exhibition-related products such as Tord Boontje Garland Lights, Put-in-Cups, Algues by Bouroullec Brothers, Boym vinyl wall stickers, and CAM Raleigh branded t-shirts and totes.

Graphic Designer, writer, and educator Denise Gonzales Crisp is bi-located in Los Angele, CA, and in Raleigh, where she is a Professor of Graphic Design in the College of Design at North Carolina State University. Her design and writing have appeared in many international publishing venues, including Emigré (US), Items (NL), Form (DE), Design and Culture Journal (US), Design Observer (US) and Eye Magazine (UK); in anthologies such as All Access: The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers and Design Research: Methods and Perspectives; and in exhibitions, including Dimension+Typography (Chicago), East Coast/West Coast Dreams (Paris), and Getting Upper (Pasadena). Crisp’s research and production areas include defining the “DecoRational,” a term she coined in the treatise “Toward A Definition of the DecoRational, In Real Time” (Design Research, B. Laurel, ed., MIT Press 2003). She holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.

Susan Yelavich is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Her areas of research include: contemporary ornament, design and literature, and the relationship between architecture and textiles. She is the author of Contemporary World Interiors (Phaidon Press, 2007), Design for Life (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 1997) and (Whitney Library of Design, 1993); co-author of Inside Design Now (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003); and editor/author of Pentagram: Profile (Phaidon Press, 2004). Yelavich is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, which awarded her the Rolland Fellowship in Design in 2003-04. She is a contributing editor to Patek Philippe International Magazine and a frequent contributor to design publications. She lectures widely and served as guest critic in the New Materials and Textiles graduate program at Nuova Accademia di Belli Arti in Milan from 2007-2010.

Deep Surface: Contemporary Ornament and Pattern is sponsored by CAM/now.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the center at 919/513-0946 or visit (


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