‘We could study and absorb some of the mysterious quality and naturalness which anonymous objects, free of their author’s ego, so often have, and which is so often missing from our more self-consciously planned offerings.’ In the essay, Immaculate Conception – Objects without Author (1996), the industrial designer Jasper Morrison discusses the virtues of normal everyday goods made by unknown hands: ‘There is no such a thing as a designer’s strong personality or promotional rhetoric in objects that have survived long after being used in the real world’, he claims.
Now on show at the piknic in Seoul, the exhibition ‘Jasper Morrison: THINGNESS’ looks back over the oeuvre of Jasper Morrison. Since he founded his own studio in 1986, he has continued to address the hidden values behind the ordinary. In the aforementioned quotation and in ‘Super Normal’ (2006), on which he collaborated with Naoto Fukasawa 20 years later, his attitude was the same. Working with world-leading companies such as Vitra, MUJI and SAMSUNG, Morrison developed various practical yet simple products. This retrospective exhibition provides the opportunity to observe them all in one place.
The exhibition is composed of five programmes. Once you step into the exhibition hall, a slide lecture entitled, ‘a world without words’ begins. It is a reconstruction of Morrison’s non-verbal, slides-only lecture delivered in 1988. Two projectors throw images onto a white wall while an exotic music fills the space. The images record what he took inspiration from, such as the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright, a Danish postman and a Spanish matador, and these many interesting photographs draw the attention of viewers.
On the second floor, the main exhibition programme begins. It shows the full spectrum of works that Morrison has developed from the 1980s to the present day. There are about 100 products, including the famous Thinking Man's Chair, Low Pad inspired by an airport bench, and Cork Family made by grinding and compressing cork. Reference drawings and texts are placed together as well to help visitors have a better understanding by deeply observing the whole working process along with idea sketches, behind stories and finished products.
The third floor introduces Morrison’s photo essay under the title of ‘The Good Life’. It’s a record of objects like a broken vase, an underwear shop, a wooden spoon and a sink pipe that he discovered in places all over the world using his questioning eyes. At the end of the exhibition, visitors are welcomed by a pop-up store, introducing products designed by Jasper Morrison and everyday goods chosen by him and by a lounge that allows people to try out his furniture and items. Charmingly programmed around Morrison’s lectures, essays and works, this retrospective is light and simpler than expected, so people can come and look around the spaces with a light heart. It is open until Mar. 24.