The title Conversation pieces refers to the table centrepieces used as decoration for ceremonial tables, since the Renaissance. Their purpose is to suggest subjects of conversation to the guests. Beyond simply function, could design act as vehicle for debate?

In an apartment designed entirely by the students, from spaces to furniture, from video games to interactive wallpaper and culminating in three ceramic centrepieces, which give the exhibition its name, the design of the space, products and objects shows how, over and above functions, materials, forms and concepts, its role can also modify interpersonal relationships and, for example, draw people into conversation.

So, as its name indicates, Conversation Pieces is an exhibition which, as well as presenting and displaying the students’ work contextualized in a realistic contemporary show apartment, also invites leading figures from the world of design, students and a guest whose name is selected at random every day for a themed evening dinner organised by Alexandra Midal and Jean-Pierre Greff. Gathered around a vast round table in the dining room, they will embrace a significant design issue, analyse, examine and discuss it during the dinner. The latter will be filmed, recorded and then broadcasted the next day on the website of our media partner, TAR art review.

Conversation Pieces invites visitors to experiment with the invention and production of forms in a fun and convivial manner. The exhibition proposes an alternative way of thinking about design, not as an end in itself, but as the means to create an environment conducive to exchange. Concentrating on design’s capacity to promote debate, whether in the literal sense of the dinners, or the metaphorical one of the projects and spaces exhibited, raises the question of in what way it is possible for forms to also be the expression of a soul or a Stimmung.

We are perhaps more accustomed to attending a lecture or a colloquium, like the famous International Design Conference in Aspen or Design Indaba, to listen to designers, manufacturers or historians talking about design, but Conversation Pieces reverses the process, places it in the context of the private space of the apartment and proposes reconsidering the latter as a space to create and foster exchange and debate. With its bedroom, library, dining room, corridors, WC, bathroom, etc., Conversation Pieces is a brain-house that accommodates a vibrant and rapidly changing notion of design.

Curated by Alexandra Midal
Workshop concept and construction directed by
Nitzan Cohen (designer) & Daniel Zamarbide