Chatsworth House exhibition offers visitors a "strange moment of time travel"
A fluffy wardrobe and monolithic stone furniture feature in a contemporary art and design trail woven through the ornate interior and gardens of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England.
The pieces form part of the exhibition Mirror Mirror: Reflections on Design at Chatsworth, which highlights the 500-year-long history of design at the stately home in the Peak District.
A mix of recent and newly-commissioned work by a total of 16 artists and designers feature in the show, all selected to establish a dialogue with the room or garden that they occupy.
According to curators Alex Hodby and Glenn Adamson, the aim is to help draw visitors' attention to the "incredible importance" of Chatsworth House in the history of art and design.
"What you'll see over and over in the exhibition is that there's both material and visual, and also to some extent, conceptual or thematic links between the spaces that we've chosen and the work itself," historian Adamson told Dezeen during a tour of the exhibition.
"The key point that we have really been thinking about throughout the curation of the show is to consider the way that historic art and craft anticipates and speaks to contemporary art and vice versa."
The Mirror Mirror exhibition began as a collaboration between Chatsworth House and the Friedman Benda art gallery in New York, with whom some of the chosen creatives are affiliated.
However, others have been chosen for their reputation in the UK design scene, for having already worked at Chatsworth House, or because their work would complement the setting.
"In general, we wanted to work with designers who seemed like they would resonate with the setting," said Hodby, Chatsworth House's own senior curator.
"There are a number of works that are in every case a specific response to the space," she continued. "For example, Jay Sae Jung Oh's throne of wrapped musical instruments was made specifically for Chatsworth's music room."
South Korean designer Oh's throne-like seat created for the exhibition is formed from a series of broken instruments tightly bound together with layers of leather cord, nodding to its location in the home's music room.
On close observation, visitors can make out instruments including a drum and a French horn within the seat, as well as an electric guitar.
Before reaching the music room, visitors walk through the house's chapel and the adjoining Oak Room – a wood-lined space for private prayer and suppers – which have both been taken over by British designer Faye Toogood.
In the chapel, Toogood has installed a series of monolithic furnishings made from Purbeck marble to echo nearby Neolithic standing stones while providing a space for contemplation.
Meanwhile, next door in the Oak Room she has introduced a giant dining table carved from oak, and teamed with two stools crafted from dark-coloured bog oak.
Toogood explained that the idea for these rooms, particularly the chapel, was for her work to feel as though it belongs to them – challenging her usual approach to design.
"My normal behaviour is to misbehave," said Toogood. "If someone says 'make a square', I create a circle," she told Dezeen.
"Actually here, I just felt compelled to create something that would add some spirituality to the place," she continued.
Other designers to have contributed new artworks to the exhibition include British designer Max Lamb and US designer Ini Archibong.
While Lamb has crafted a pair of chairs from two single pieces of cedar, Archibong has contributed a chandelier that hangs in a vestibule and is accompanied by a self-composed soundtrack.
Other highlights of the exhibition include Mexican designer Fernando Laposse whimsical and fluffy wardrobe and armchair, which are crafted with long agave plant fibres and bring a sense of playfulness to the imposing bedchamber.
In the rose garden, Lebanese designer Najla El Zein has contributed a folded seat made from Iranian red travertine. Named Seduction, Pair 06, it is positioned to look down a key axis through the wider landscape.
Elsewhere in the show, the corridor to the chapel has been filled with large-scale ceramics by the South African artist Andile Dyalvane that pay homage to an existing series of ceramic art in the space and wider Chatsworth House that have been commissioned previously.
Visitors to the exhibition can also see an ethereal lighting installation in the library by London designer Michael Anastassiades and a series of benches by Dutch designer Joris Laarman – two of which are digitally fabricated and echo the chequered floor on which they sit.
Nearby, Italian design studio Formafantasma has contributed one of its earliest works – a series of charcoal sculptures.
They were originally to draw attention to the positives and negatives of charcoal as a material, but at Chatsworth House, they have been used to hark back to the home's past reliance on it as fuel.
The final few designers and artists featuring work in the exhibition are British artists Ndidi Ekubia and Samuel Ross, as well as US designer Chris Schanck and Irish designer Joseph Walsh.
Works of late designers Ettore Sottsass and Wendell Castle also feature. These include colourful glass totems by Sottsass and large cast-bronze seats by Castle.
Adamson explained that the name of the exhibition is a play on fairytales, nodding to the "magic" of Chatsworth House and its ability to make visitors feel as though they are going back in time – a feeling he hopes will be enhanced with the exhibition.
"We were trying to capture the magic of this place, and how it transports you into a place of imagination," he said.
"We also had in mind that funny experience in a country house where you look at yourself in the 17th-century or 18th-century mirror, and you have this kind of strange moment of time travel," he continued. "And that really is the ethos of the show."
Chatsworth House is a Grade I-listed stately home on the east bank of the River Derwent, dating back to the 17th century. It contains works of art and design dating back as far as 4,000 years ago, while its gardens have been carefully landscaped over a period of 500 years.
Previous exhibitions at the house include London studio Raw Edge's installation of curved wooden benches and stools in the sculpture gallery and the temporary residence of Zaha Hadid's 2007 Serpentine Pavilion on its grounds ahead of its sale.
The photography is courtesy of the Chatsworth House Trust unless stated otherwise.
Mirror Mirror: Reflections on Design at Chatsworth is at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire until 1 October 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.