The Materials Matter exhibition emphasizes the technologies and materials that shape the design of everyday objects across multiple historical turn points.
Tulsa collector George R. Kravis II began gathering pieces as early as 12 years old, focusing not only on their functions but on their aesthetic and overall artistical value. In 2018, he granted over 600 items of his collection to the Oklahoma State Museum of Art, 27 of them displayed in the Materials Matter exhibition.
One of the main purposes of the collection is to identify how events such as the Industrial Revolution, the World Wars or the rebellions of the ‘60s, pushed for ideas of mass production and the introduction of new materials that, in turn, created everyday products capable of inciting conversations on their design.
“I think by seeing this, people can go home and look at their own environment and become more appreciative of what they have,” Arlette Klaric, Associate Chief Curator and Curator of Collections, said.
OSU’s art gallery is currently focused on how the transformation of materials can take different meanings when converted to pieces of art, more specifically, on their end-use. The exhibition connects the extraction of materials to their final functionalities as well as the artistry they hold when they are not of use anymore.
“Because the larger exhibition we have here is addressing water in relation to ecological issues, I decided to link this exhibition to it by looking at materials and technologies that were used for making industrial design objects,” Klaric said.
The accessibility of the display not only offers viewers a different perspective on ordinary objects but also gives OSU students an opportunity to have direct exposure to the diverse aspects of design.
“We’ve been able to connect with a lot of different students, especially for the art department and architecture, because there are a lot of cool objects in this exhibit that architects design. So, it's a cool opportunity for OSU students and faculty to come see it in person and kind of get this close-up experience. We just want to be available for students when they have papers or projects, or even if you just want to learn more,” Kristen Duncan, Marketing and Communications Specialist, said.
The OSU Museum of Art will be booking appointments for this exhibit all the way to June 26th, 2021.
A look into the exhibit:
Addison Industries Model A2A
Waterfall Radio, ca. 1940,Designer Unidentified
Made by Addison Industries Ltd., Oklahoma State University Museum of Art, George R. Kravis II Collection, 2018.016.069.
“This is a radio from the 1930s. The material is called Catalin, and it’s an early form of plastic. Initially, if you look at radios up until the 1930s, most of them were made of wood and they use the example of furniture as to how to design a radio to make it look like furniture. The development of Catalin came with a different means of creating radios because they could be molded. You could have a shell of plastic as opposed to having to take pieces of wood to connect them. So, for one thing, it made it much less expensive to design radios and they were much more portable,” Klaric said.
No. 670 & 671 Lounge Chair and
Ottoman, designed 1956, Miniature, 1992-2008, Charles Eames (American, 1907-1978)
Ray Eames (American, 1912-1988)
Made by Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, Bent plywood, cast aluminum, and leather. Oklahoma State University Museum of Art, George R. Kravis II Collection, 2018.016.034.
“Designers kept revolutionizing the design of chairs. Ray and Charles Eames were husband and wife, a team. During WWII, they worked on molded wooden splints, so bending wood. They took that technique and used it for the Navy and transferred it into bentwood chairs, and this is probably one of the most famous. This is sort of an end all be all chair for people who really want to have a broadcaster status, but it's also supposed to be very comfortable,” Klaric said.
One from the Heart Table Lamp, 1989, Ingo Maurer (German, 1932-2019)
Made by Ingo Maurer GmbH, Oklahoma State University Museum of Art, George R. Kravis II Collection, 2018.016.081.
“This is the period of the counterculture, the hippies, and the designers start to create things that go against examples of modernism. They get away from very geometric forms, very pared down, neutral colors, steel. They go to pop culture and borrow hearts and plastic crocodiles and very unconventional designs for a lamp. And they have reinvented. So, instead of having some kind of base with a lampshade per se, the lampshade turns into this heart-shaped plastic form and the heart-shaped mirror and polished metal faces then sandwiched between. So, the light hits and reflects and it actually will cast hearts into the walls. Then you also notice that the wires are exposed. So, it's all a way of being rebellious,” Klaric said.