In a design world going increasingly hybrid — with fairs taking place virtually and in-person — Objects With Narratives is a new nomadic gallery that presents collectible design both online and in physical shows. The gallery has an “interactive webshop, other online channels and physical exhibitions around the world.” It’s one of the numerous upstart brands rethinking how unique design and creative marketing can go hand in hand.
Central to the idea of Objects With Narratives is the curation of design, and of designers, with great stories. “We work together with household names and with young designers who don’t have or have a limited following and notoriety, as long as each designer has a strong narrative behind their work and practice,” explain Objects With Narratives’ founders. In exchange for joining the gallery’s roster, designers receive everything from sales to marketing and logistics help and production options. They also get to be part of a growing network.
The enterprise began when designer brothers Nik and Robbe Vandewyngaerde (later joined by friend Oskar Eryatmaz) realized how difficult it is to “commercialize, develop and produce their own creations due to limitations on budget, logistical, legal or production.” In the world of art-design, where one is often realizing a limited edition, the investment of time and money into one’s own collection can feel overwhelming.
Objects With Narratives is the trio’s response to these conditions. Establishing the platform has lifted much of the weight off the shoulders of individual talents involved — at least when it comes to everything outside the actual designing of their pieces.
The website goes a long way toward generating the buzz around the concept of the narrative — the story of the object or its designer being the raison d’être for the enterprise. According to Objects With Narratives, people connect more fully with the objects that surround us when they are able to appreciate the stories behind their making.
Yet, the stories on the Objects With Narratives website feel more evocative than illuminating. And perhaps the mystique is just as important as the facts.
For instance, Ward Wijnant’s BLEND series “is inspired by the thought that out of one and the same tree, the same wood, different kind of patterns and structures can be gained.” The brush-stroke-like grain finish is meant to “visualize” different sawing techniques. But it’s unclear if that is the case: Are the pieces in any one combination of armoire and lamp actually cut from the same tree?
Another description, for Studio ThusThat’s This Is Copper Collection, references critical worldly context, but with poetic license. Part of The Sustainable Collection, the series is made of slag. “Alongside industrial era, slag heaps that dot the European landscape are new slag mountains growing in the age of electricity and renewables,” the description reads. “Each piece is joined with hammered copper surfaces that speak to the long heritage of copper-smithing that has disappeared in the age of copper wires and cables.”
What’s more interesting is that the slag used in each piece is “geopolymerized,” the result of a technique that the designers developed with scientists at KU Leuven. They call this “an entirely new breed of cementitious materials that have substantially lower CO2 footprints.” Talk about burying the lede!
Objects With Narratives is a fine platform for remarkable works by a diverse range of designers, many of whom have great tales to tell — but who perhaps need a bit more help emphasizing the morals of their stories.
Curated by designers for designers, Objects With Narratives puts collectible design front and centre.