Gallery Diet and Nektar De Stagni Collaboration: Hard Poems in Space

Every once in a while, a community produces a divine marriage of talents and resources. With the project Hard Poems in Space, jewelry designer Nektar De Stagni and Gallery Diet's Nina Johnson are that perfect pair. They've brought together a gifted group of artists, designers, and architects for a series of instructional presentations and workshops where they've created functional art objects to be exhibited in an interactive social environment at De Stagni's Design District shop.

Many of the two ladies' friends were making objects that rode the line between design and art. Thus, the idea for Hard Poems in Space arose organically from what was happening in their social and work circles. "We were coming to the same conclusions where we were finding this middle ground between art and design which is neither art nor design, but this hybrid in between." De Stagni says of the inspiration for the project. Johnson added, "It's about the breakdown of that separation.

Hard Poems in Space began germinating this summer and will come to fruition during Fashion's Night Out in September. Participants include Jim Drain, Martin Oppel, Daniel Milewski, Paola Pivi, and Confetti System. They and others have been through three phases of creation and presentation: a brainstorm, build out, and a culmination in an exhibition.

The brainstorming part consisted of workshops and guided discussions. Johnson says, "We wanted people to not just create objects individually in their studios, it was fine if some of the pieces were made that way, but we were more interested in the results from a more collaborative mind." In order to assist in this process, they brought in people to help "feed" the artists and designers with concept, skills, and marketing ideas like Director of Exhibitions of Design Miami's Alexandra Cunningham, architect Terence Riley formerly of MOMA and MAM, and the director of the Mexican-based hand-tufted rugs Odabashian.

"When you make functional objects, an active culture comes up around them." Johnson observes. The buildout includes the creation of a communal space where curated performances, dinners, and experiences will take place inside of a space.

De Stagni points to Martin Oppel's tilted bar, interactive sculpture as a work that defines the project. She said, "People can go up to it, pour themselves drinks from it, but it's also a visual object. It's commenting on its function while remaining a sculpture." While Johnson notes that the audience will be broad, ranging from a young person who isn't familiar with art, but comes by on Second Saturday, who might "grab a Free Tibet candy and doesn't realize they're eating an artwork by a Golden Lion winner from the Venice Biennale," to a savvy collector who, she says, "might come buy a super high-end lamp that they'll live with for the next 75 years."

How about the name? De Stagni says, "I interpret the name as hard being the actual object, poems being the concept behind it, and space being the space in which the object will be shown." Art, design, and ultimately community define this project, one that resulted in the production of new works and, hopefully, brings together all sorts of people ready to consume visual creations in their own way functional way.

The opening will take place at NDS Shop (155 NE 38 Street, Design District) on September 8 during Fashion's Night Out at 7 p.m. Visit nektardestagni.com or gallerydiet.com for more information.

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