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Hironen | London, Tokyo 1985-1995
photo: Sharon Derhy
Hironen, From the Design Museum Collection

From your first encounter with Hironen's furniture, you stop thinking about furniture. You begin to think about strange libidinal creatures that compel you into awe. The shock effect dictates very instinctual viewing, which has little to do with the "objectness" of the objects but rather with their mentalsexual energy. They symbolize people in the world of Hironen, an armchair, sofa or lamp possess a body, desires, sensing organs-nose, eyes, mouth, skin. A body that reverberates with its own desires, erotic fantasies and affections. Affections so perfect that you are tempted to believe that they are the true representatives of your secret desires. They will dwell with you and you will dwell in them, yet they will never have a full authentic existence? merely a representation of a literary existence, symbolic and fantastic, a fairy tale existence.

Hironen, brand name and design studio, established in Tokyo (1989) by the Israeli Ronen Levin and the Japanese Hiroyoki Okawa. Fusing two biographies which had flourished on different cultural backgrounds gave birth to a fascinating Metissage of modernist aesthetic values, which have nothing obviously in common either with Japanese or Israeli aesthetic traditions or with the extremities of Modernism. The things they create are meant first and foremost to inspire sensual pleasure and to emphasize skill and good taste and not arid intellectualism.

Some of their pieces formulate fluent gestures toward the virtuosity and sparkle of the Rococo, which celebrated the beauty of life, while others pay dues to modernist sources of inspiration, like Bauhaus and Minimalism, which reflected the transition to an industrial society and the result of that transition.

They also have narcissistic pieces with a disquieting erotic presence, which brings to mind existential experience, decadent style, surrealistic contexts and murky theories about the relations between eroticism and death, complex relation that are often violent, as embodied in the works of Georges Bataille, Freud, Sade, Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde amongst others. Nigel Coats, founder of the "Narrative Architecture" stream, said of Hironen's work that it is not design, but "criticism of design".

Naomi Aviv, Curator of "For Adolf Loos With Love and Squalor", Colonnade House Project, 1996

All the exhibition objects are courtesy of Ronen Levin Olby, Israel

 
 
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