Today, the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York opens its latest exhibition of functional, cerebral, and highly sculptural works. "Slow Motion" lays the enticing creations of Aldo Bakker, a Dutch designer who has been building up his body of work since the late 1990s, out in the open expanse of the gallery's Fifth Avenue location. As furniture aficionados are likely aware, Bakker is widely respected for his minimalist forms. What is more, he himself is steeped in design history: His father is noted designer Gijs Bakker, who creates conceptual jewelry, among other things.
In many ways, the works included in this new exhibition exemplify the intrinsic paradox present in Bakker's oeuvre. Despite the fact that he takes time to carefully craft each piece, and possesses a keen interest in materiality, many of his sleek tables, stools, and more at first call to mind ideas related to machine work. However, upon slightly deeper inspection, the complexity of Bakker's designs becomes abundantly clear. Flat Brown, a structure made out of aluminum, can at some angles appear to be a gold-tinged room divider. Seen from its two narrower sides, it practically disappears. Bakker's Sitting Table, which in one case is made out of Noir Belge de Mazy marble, is equally complex. At every turn, the form appears to morph into a different three-dimensional shape.
Form and function are not the only concepts Bakker seeks to bring to bare in this new show. "By looking at my objects you get a glimpse of my daily surroundings," he tells AD PRO, couching his comment with the caveat that he does not of course seek to create a literal interpretation. Bakker adds that he is depicting "those shapes that I see daily and then study until I know what else they can become." This, perhaps not surprisingly, is a process unto itself. "It’s a matter of having all the time to question them," he explains. "This is not about liking or not liking, but about understanding through time and repetition."
Putting on a show of this sort can be its own delicate balancing act. "To give individual attention to all objects, and to keep a coherent whole at the same time—[in terms of] color, texture, and also drawing, plays an important role in this exhibition," Bakker says. He adds that he is also routinely challenged by the gallery to "find new ways to make the works less vulnerable, as they are sculptures that you may use."
Interestingly, the title of the exhibition harkens back to the time that Bakker considers to be necessary in order to ultimately produce such works. Therein lies another paradox: the "Slow Motion" tempo required to create such pieces is at odds with the world in which they will ultimately dwell. But if Bakker is willing to put so much time, effort, and thought into his creations, surely they merit one quick trip uptown.