SPACE ACE: “Barbarella” fans are sure to enjoy Pierre Cardin’s furniture. Celebrating some 40 years of his “Jetsons”-worthy designs, the couturier is showcasing about 150 pieces of his furniture in an exhibit at Concept 2 in Saint-Ouen on the outskirts of Paris, running through July.
“When I look at the pieces, I think of buildings,” said Cardin as he toured his geometrical fabrications, from circular desks to oblong commodes and chairs. “If I could stretch them and put them all together, they’d make the most spectacular cityscape.”
He gestured to pieces from an “organic” sofa resembling a psychedelic tree to a console television that looks like the control panel of a spacecraft.
“I’ve always thought that I worked like an architect,” said the 82-year-old Cardin, known for having amassed more than 800 licenses for everything from towels to olive oil.
Of the pieces on display, many are done in lacquered treatments. “No one was doing that when I started [in the Seventies],” Cardin noted. He said his favorite is a commode he designed with two interlocking doors he described as “very sensual.”
He added, “At home I’ve all types of furniture, from all different periods. My pieces require a lot of space. And they’re very expensive. One piece can cost 50,000 euros [$65,000]. Who’s going to pay that?”
BUILDING BLOCKS: A favorite of the French fashion set in the Twenties, Robert Mallet-Stevens, the late modernist architect, decorator and furniture designer, is getting his first major retrospective in France. This week the Pompidou museum in Paris inaugurated “Robert Mallet-Stevens, Architecte 1886-1945,” an extensive exhibition that runs through Aug. 29. Mallet-Stevens famously designed a Cubist chateau for couturier Paul Poiret and the Villa Noailles in the Riviera town of Hyères, for Surrealist muse Marie-Laure de Noailles.
MUSEUM QUALITY: Visitors now can find trendy and fashionable objects in the gift shops at France’s national museums. After tapping Christian Lacroix and Jacques Garcia to design objects exclusively for their boutiques, the museums asked French industrial designer Hervé Van der Straeten to create a jewelry collection. The Louvre Museum Boutique and the Bercy Village Musée & Compagnie Boutique are among the four museum stores carrying his creations. His hammered brass jewelry retails from $78 for a ring to $442 for a necklace.
BUBBLEHEADS: Along with the bubbly, there will be plenty of bubbles, as in inflatable designs by AKAirways, at Creative Time’s “Trip the Light Fantastic” benefit in Manhattan. Once reserved for the rave culture or the annual “Burning Man” festival, transparent inflatables are edging into the mainstream to house DJs or a bar, or to use as branding tools or screens for video projections. AKAirways founder Anakin Koenig is consulting with M.I.T.’s MediaLab about inflatable design. “Bubbles make people happy.”
The May 19 shindig will also feature a light show by Joshua White and visual artist Gary Panter. White’s work for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin helped establish him as a light show pioneer. Contemporary artist Leo Villareal will offer his own interpretation of a light show, mixing visuals, music, new technology and inflatables. Fred Tomaselli has whipped up a psychedelic print for the party, which is being headed up by Imitation of Christ’s Tara Subkoff and Creative Time’s executive director Anne Pasternak.
More concrete will be the nine-ton sculpture to be unwrapped May 9 by Creative Time, a nonprofit group that promotes public art. Designed by Jim Hodges, “Look and See” looks like a warped camouflage curtain and will stand in the plaza in front of the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park until November.
YOUNG AT ART: Collecting art without much wealth or knowledge isn’t such a reach, according to the AAF Contemporary Art Fair’s organizers. In fact, they have formed a young collectors group to prove the point. On tap for the first get-together on May 9 is a walk-through of Columbia University’s School of the Visual Arts M.F.A.’s thesis exhibition with curator Jeffrey Uslip. The AAF’s director Helen Allen said they decided to lend a helping hand after many show attendees inquired about learning more. “We want to introduce people to contemporary art who are not necessarily in-the-know,” she said.
Later this year newbies can sample guided tours of the Artists Space in SoHo and Chelsea galleries. They also score free tours at the AAF in October.