NO FEAR OF GLASS
BARCELONA PAVILION BY
MIES VAN DER ROHE
In conjunction with the launch of the publication, NO FEAR OF GLASS, Side Gallery released a short film of the making of the exhibition. The film features the exhibition’s designer, Sabine Marcelis, who talks us through the concept and process’ leading the to the creation of the emblematic exhibition, held at the Barcelona Pavilion in December 2019. Marcelis explains how through the use of material and production experimentation, each of her five original works create surprising applications, perfect in form, that translate the materiality and ideology of the Pavilion.
Side Gallery and Sabine Marcelis in collaboration with the Fundació Mies van der Rohe held the exhibition “No Fear of Glass” in December 2019. The site-specific intervention took the title from ‘Fear of glass’, the book about the Barcelona Pavilion by Josep Quetglas, the proposal aimed to explore the contrast between the request made to Mies van der Rohe to “not use too much glass” with the creative proposal of Sabine Marcelis herself, where glass was the key element of the exhibition, pushing the material’s limits to the end.
Sabine Marcelis (b.1985 New Zealand) is a designer living and working in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Raised in New Zealand, she was recognized from a young age for her design abilities, being awarded the New Zealand Young Designer of the Year. Marcelis studied industrial design for two years at Victoria University in Wellington, and continued her studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven, where she graduated in 2011. When graduating the designer was nominated for a fleet of prestigious design grants, such as the ‘Unge Talenter Designpriser’ by the Norsk Designråd, the René Smeets Award, and the Keep an Eye Grant.
Since graduating, she has been operating Studio Sabine Marcelis, working within the fields of product, installation and spatial design with a strong focus on materiality. Her work is characterized by pure forms and natural elements such as the reflections of light and water, which she believes highlight material properties. Growing up in New Zealand Sabine was surrounded by dramatic landscapes, always sensitive to the light of the sky, the ocean and the snow on the mountains, the artist was inspired by the communication of the natural elements. Her work captures these beautiful moments in nature on a smaller scale, as objects or installations.
Over the last decade, the award-winning designer has become known for her work with resin and glass. Her receptiveness for these two materials is due to their manipulability; sharp angular shapes as well as spineless curves can be protracted giving the artist endless scope for form. Moreover, the translucency of the both materials can be adjusted from sheer transparency to milky or solid opaque finishes. Working in collaboration with industry specialists, Marcelis intervenes in the manufacturing processes using material research and experimentation to achieve new and surprising visual effects, applying a strong aesthetic point of you to the material development processes. The series Candy Cubes is an example of the designer’s complex material investigation; a polyester resin mold is used to cast the piece, followed by an intensive polishing process. The cast resin is light sensitive, as sun rays shine down onto the solid blocks, the light illuminates the edges, sugar coating the sides, making the aptly named “marshmallow” colored candy cube appear edible.
As well as playing with natural light, Marcelis also experiments with artificial lighting in her work. The introduction of neon light to her material combinations expresses the relationship between light, color and transparency in a more constant context. In 2015 Marcelis produced the series Dawn Light whereby the introduction of a white neon tube to a series of different geometric resin objects was used to reflect a unique moment in nature; when the sun, clouds and sky all join together, creating a momentary riot of hues. The series was on show at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Holland. Since then Marcelis has continued to work with neon and resin developing complex colour recipes and finishes, resulting in her Totem Series commissioned and sold exclusively by Side Gallery in 2019. The collection is composed of four different sized lighting elements, two table and two standing lamps. The Totems are built with several stacked translucent resin volumes which are slightly rotated on a central axis. The carved-out void where the neon light is inserted allows for a multifaceted play between the twisted planes of polished resin and light reflections. Every angle of the lights is a unique visual experience.
As well as designing object pieces, the Dutch designer has a series of impressive installation projects associated with her profile including, the Aesop Vedovelle Fountain, the Dutch Pavilion at Cannes Film festival 2017, a Light installation at Biennale Interieur 2018, The Solo Sun Dial project 2018, Burberry x OC in 2018 and De/Coding ‘Alcantara in the tapestry Rooms’ in 2019. Perhaps her most famous installation was her Shapes of Water or Fendi Fountains installation, first exhibited at Design Miami 2018. The ten water sculptures designed from cast resin were a continuation of Marcelis experience and experimentation in material practices, projecting her own vision her elegant avant-garde creativity corresponded directly with the Fendi philosophy.
The designers most prestigious exhibition yet, was her museum show “NO FEAR OF GLASS” in December 2019. The intervention commissioned by Side Gallery in collaboration with the Mies Van de Rohe Foundation, consisted of five original works by the Dutch designer, meticulously placed within the Pavilion. The five pieces were designed to extrude from the architecture itself; two large chaise lounges were pulled up from the ground by extending the travertine floor to form a base, they were sliced with a singular sheet of curved glass which was seemingly pulled from the walls. The two materials met and became sculptural yet functional furniture pieces. Eight chrome columns provide the structural support for the roof of the pavilion. Marcelis introduced a ninth mirrored-glass column which functioned as a light and was placed in line with the structural columns, blending in seamlessly with the architecture, both in form and materiality. In the water pond outside the pavilion, a curved glass fountain could be seen bending the water upwards from the ground, and letting it spill over and back down.
Marcelis won the 2020 Wallpaper Designer of Year Award, her material exploration continues to create surprising applications as her reputations reaches all corners of the world. The designer continues to be represented by Side Gallery where a number of her pieces can be seen, including the series, Voie Lights, Seeing Glass, Filter lights, Totem Lights, Candy Cubes and others.