Galerie Philia’s ‘Hometown’ Exhibit Gathers the Best of ‘Sculptural Design’

Above image by Maison Mouton Noir

Even those who are interested in design as an essential facet of living can often times take it for granted as we carry out these sorts of frantic 21st Century lives, those that can find us too busy to even notice that we might have aged out of that stylish Knoll sofa we bought and loved six years ago. But when the COVID lockdowns first went into effect in March of 2020, we found ourselves not allowed to travel beyond our four walls for months at a stretch – save for the occasional grocery run or necessary doctor’s appointment – and in many cases it forced us to rethink our relationship with our homes.

Whether we’ve (almost) come out the other side of the pandemic hating or loving our living spaces, there’s little doubt we have earned the right to splurge on them a bit, if only because we are finally allowed to safely have guests in them once again. And Galerie Philia‘s striking new exhibit ‘Hometown’ is presenting us with plenty of reasons to consider doing so. To be sure, spread over five floors of a landmarked townhouse in New York’s art mecca Chelsea (483 W. 22nd Street to be exact), it presents an exceedingly well curated selection of “sculptural design” pieces by both newer and well-established talent. (It will be on view by appointment only through June 16.)

Image by Maison Mouton Noir

To wit, seating by Gotham’s Christina Z Antonio and Florence’s Pietro Franceschini, a gothic looking seven-candle pillar by fashion provocateur Rick Owens, the stark Decomplexe table by French wunderkind Frédéric Saulou, and some very sculptural hanging lamps by Helsinki based Milla Vaahtera, whose work draws on themes of body image, all amongst the many others chosen for their ability to sculpt visually compelling shapes. The display will also include a carefully curated selection of books by Assouline.

Founded in 2005, Galerie Philia (it’s a Greek word referring to “the highest form of love”) has followed a steadfast philosophy/mission of non-hierarchical curation, always prioritizing artistic merit above ephemeral trends and media-driven hype. They currently have physical showrooms in Singapore and Geneva, in addition to the ongoing New York gallery series.

We engaged Co-Creative Director Alban Roger on the inspirations for ‘Hometown.’

Image by Evan Joseph

You debuted your physical gallery space concept during the pandemic – why did you think it was the right time?

The first time we put together a show like this was at the Walker Tower during the height of Covid 19. It felt also right for the times to be able to create an intimate moment, by appointment only, to slowly start to exhibit again.

What we are always after at Galerie Philia is an immersive experience, we truly want the viewer to be transported, and the way we found to do so in New York is to occupy incredible spaces, where the pieces can breathe and create a dialogue with the surrounding architecture.

What is urgently different about experiencing design pieces in person as opposed to purchasing them online?

We aim to create an emotional reaction between the viewer and the pieces during our shows, a true connection. Experiencing collectible design in an exhibition setting is experiencing the narrative, the craftsmanship, and the artistry first hand.

What is the concept behind Galerie Philia, what is unique about it?

The gallery has a transcultural and non hierarchical approach to its curation, we focus on embracing heterogeneity, harmony, and timelessness. We also take pride in discovering new talents, providing them with multiple international platforms to show their latest creations.

Why is the current exhibition titled ‘Hometown’?

With ‘Hometown’, the desire was to evoke warmth, coziness, timelessness in the heart of a landmark house. For us to be able to exhibit sculptural design inside such a space allowed to us ask the question of what makes a home a home.

We hope the viewers can find the answer in the atmosphere we created.

Image by Evan Jospeh

What is specifically meant by “sculptural design”?

Sculptural design is located on a thin line between the world of functional objects, and works of art. The hand sculpted materials, and the studied form gives it its rarity and makes it a true work of art, but with a function.

Of your first time featured artists, Atelier Barda, Luke Malaney, Atra, Hagit Pincovici and Studio Lel, what were the specific qualities of their work that made you choose them?

As [with] all our collaborations, we curate and select, taking into account the quality of the works, their originality and their sculptural facet.

Regarding Rick Owens, how would you say his furniture designs are reflective of his fashion designs?

There is a radicalism in Rick Owens designs, both in furniture and in fashion. The aesthetic search, I believe, is the point in common between both the textile and furniture creations.

How do you think two years of lockdowns and quarantines have changed the way people relate to their living spaces? And how does that impact what you do?

It’s been a general trend that people have rediscovered the importance of one’s home, of one’s personal universe, after the pandemic. With ‘Hometown’, we are showing how collectible design is relatable as an everyday item, on top of being a work of art.

Above images from top: 1. Evan Joseph, 2. Maison Mouton Noir, 3. Evan Joseph, 4. Maison Mouton Noir

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