At Design Miami: Pieke Bergmans’ Crystal Virus

Design Miami

is a bit of an iconoclast in the exhibition circuit. As exhibit organizers attest, the event intends to blur the divide between art and design, rather than insisting on the primacy of a salable “product.” This isn’t to say that other fairs eschew the overtly “arty” gesture-to be sure, all the significant design exhibitions feature great art and great design, often in one and the same piece-but only to suggest that Design Miami touts this perspective a little more loudly.

Crystal Virus. Designed by Pieke Bergman.

To wit, “by requiring participating galleries to mount curated exhibitions and to publish substantial catalogues, only Design Miami upholds the strictest criteria, treating design as a serious category of artistic creation. The end result is a unique commercial fair that draws the most important minds in the international design community to further the dialogue surrounding contemporary design culture.”

For the next two weeks, we’ll be focusing on this liminal territory between art and design as we showcase the most innovative work by some of the industry’s most compelling minds. Case in point: Pieke Bergman‘s series of hand-blown glass vase and furniture installations which she calls Crystal Virus. With the help of Master Glass Blower Gert Bull©e, Bergmans creates these benign and lovely viruses out of Royal Leerdam Crystal‘s glass-blowing factory (or Glasfabriek Leerdam) in the Netherlands. For Bergmans, these pieces are about confrontation (or the slightly nicer sounding, “meeting”). They’re also about the representation of process-the “how” of design rather than the “what”-but I’ll let her take it from here: “a series of virus-formed crystal vases are fluently crawling over tables and chairs. They leave black burned stains in their confrontation with the furniture, but still they must be regarded as friendly beings. Big hot crystal bubbles are pressed onto wooden furniture and while the crystal burns into the wood, some of the wood’s texture is integrated into the vase. Vase and furniture are then displayed together as an installation.”

At Design Miami: Pieke Bergmans’ Crystal Virus

So the collection includes a vintage table in aged wood with a big greenish blob of a vase seemingly dripping off the edge; a smaller version of the former negotiating the rungs of a rickety ladder with a rather elementary variety of perambulation (otherwise known as “dripping”); and a transparent globe of clearest crystal virtually consuming a simple wooden stool, the entirety of its platform covered in molten glass. The pieces do have a parasitic aspect that gives the truth to the name, but they also evoke the wonder of manipulated forms and forms in flux (Dali’s melting clocks are writ large), and though the flux is quite literal with these pieces, there’s also an embrasure of metaphorical flux-between “consumer” and “product,” artist and material, medium and venue. Bergmans’ encapsulation of the spontaneity of creation and confrontation is definitely worth a good long look-so check out her work in Miami between December 3 and 6. You might just be tempted to invite her lovely viruses into your home.

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