KONSTANTIN GRCIC Black2 (Black and Square)

032c Workshop / Joerg Koch is pleased to present KONSTANTIN GRCIC’s “Black2”, an exhibition devoted entirely to one formal presence in the production of the contemporary object: that of the iconic black square. The industrial designer has selected twenty-eight disparate products, from the obscure to the mass-market, which nevertheless fit under that monolithic visual and linguistic category. Black, rectilinear forms have permeated millennia of cultural history. They conjure Ancient Egyptian stelae, the tablets onto which Moses engraved the Ten Commandments, the Islamic Kaaba, and the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone; they were rejuvenated by 20th century Modernism, first on canvas by Russian Suprematist Kasimir Malevich, and later further monumentalized by American minimalism. The black square was, according to Malevich’s 1915 manifesto, a way of giving shape to “pure feeling” – autonomous and abstract, it is a form that is also absent from nature, a symbol at once of the wholly man-made, and of the mystery of human knowledge. In recent decades we have seen that aspect crystallize into technological products from the Marshall amplifier and the BASF audiocassette tape, to the Apple iPhone chip and the IBM ThinkPad, all sophisticated inventions in their time, encased in marketable, manageable black.

In addition to its omnipresence in the world of high-tech consumables, Grcic pinpoints the black square in a number of other design choices – in a portable, acrylic Black 201 Television set by Sapper and Zanuso (1969), for instance, or a black American Express credit card. Yet Black2, originally conceived for the Instituto Svizzero di Roma, does not simply attempt to establish an iconographical mood. It is rather a consideration of the “horizontal” diffusion of a rich and pertinent formal element, a mysterious and powerful cornerstone in our visual culture. In channeling the black square, Grcic intervenes in the way in which we perceive the very nature of human creation today.

KONSTANTIN GRCIC (b. 1965) trained as a cabinet-maker at Parnham College (England) before studying design at the Royal College of Art in London. Since setting up his own practice, Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design (KGID), in Munich in 1991, he has developed furniture, products and lighting for some of the leading companies in the design field. Many of his products have received international awards, including the 2001 Compasso d’Oro, and can be found in the permanent collections of museums such as the MoMA, New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Grcic’s recent curatorial work has included design exhibitions “Design Real” for London’s Serpentine Gallery, London (2009), and “Comfort” for the St. Étienne Design Biennale (2010). Solo exhibitions of his work have taken place at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum (Rotterdam, 2006), the Haus der Kunst Munich (2006), and the Art Institute of Chicago (2009). In 2010, he was a fellow at Villa Massimo in Rome, and was named Design Miami/’s “Designer of the Year.” Grcic has been appointed “Royal Designer for Industry” by the British Royal Society for the Arts.

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