Studio Job's MAD House retrospective opens in New York

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The Museum of Arts and Design in New York has opened an exhibition that shows how Belgian artists Studio Job "lost naivety and gained professionalism" (+ slideshow).

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Big Ben, 2009-2014, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photograph by Loek Blonk

The fourth and fifth floors of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), located on the south-west corner of Central Park, have been transformed into the Studio Job MAD House.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Pyramid, 2008, courtesy of the Royal Tichelaar Makkum

Studio founders Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel curated the retrospective of their own work, which spans 16 years, and includes an array of sculptural furniture and homeware pieces in a variety of materials.



"What we've tried to do from the very beginning and onwards is to stretch the field of design," said Smeets. "Design can be so expressive; it doesn't need to be called art."

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Perished Bench, 2006, from Mike de Paola's collection. Photograph by Robert Kot

Rather than laid out in chronological order, the studio's designs are arranged as they might be found in a home.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Burj Khalifa, 2013-2014, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photograph by Loek Blonk

"This is the first time that you can see a 2015 piece next to a 2003 piece," Smeets said. "You can see how we lost our naivety and gained professionalism."

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Heart, 2012-2013, from a private collection. Photograph by Loek Blonk

Items are grouped into loose themes. For example, a set of pieces positioned together on the lower floor – a sculpture of King Kong scaling the Burj Khalifa, a heart-shaped stained glass window and a collection of banana-shaped lamps – are all based around love and lust.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Banana, 2015, courtesy of Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery

Along with the Burj design, other sculptures from the ongoing Landmark series on show include a lamp shaped like the Eiffel Tower with its top bent over and an upside-down Taj Mahal model turned into a table.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Tour Eiffel, 2012, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photograph by Adrien Millot

"We work a lot with icons – things that are fairly common to us – combined with things that crawl into our heads," said Smeets.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Taj Mahal II, 2014, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photograph by Adrien Millot

The studio's cast-bronze Robber Baron collection and green-tinged Oxidised range are also on show, along with a table shaped like a head-on collision between two steam trains to symbolise Smeets and Tynkels' romantic break-up.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Train Crash, 2015, courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photograph by Adrien Millot

The walls are lined with Studio Job's wallpaper designed to look like typical blockwork, called Wall, while a grey cartoonish version of herringbone parquet covers the MAD's existing wooden floor.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Oxidized Castle, 2003, courtesy of Groninger Museum. Photograph by Kristof Vrancken

Mounted onto the vertical surfaces are some of Smeets' original concept sketches, beside framed scale drawings of the designs.

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Oxidized Clock, 2003, courtesy of Groninger Museum

"The process of how we produce our stuff usually starts with a tiny little drawing, normally by me," said Smeets. "Then it's drawn at 1:1 scale for our workshops before being made in bronze or any possible material."

Studio Job MAD House retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York
Sketch wall in Studio Job Atelier, 2015, from Monkey Business, 2016. Photograph by Loek Blonk

Studio Job MAD House runs from 22 March to 21 August 2016. It follows a capsule exhibition shown by New York gallery Chamber at the city's Armory Show art fair earlier this month.

Installation shots by Butcher Walsh, courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.