Text: Alec Coiro
Images Courtesy of Colony Design
There’s a darkness that hangs over 2017, and you all know exactly what the fuck I’m talking about, so we’ll leave it at that. Fittingly, it’s Colony that helps brings light into this darkness for New York this design week with Lightness: The Full Spectrum.
Colony is a cooperative showroom. For the majority of cooperatives in any field, there is — I believe — a feeling that being cooperative is a valorous enough, and that by setting a shining example of community, the cooperative has already earned its seat among the righteous. And I won’t dispute that; I will only add that Colony’s mission goes further. Founded as an outgrowth of a Hurricane Sandy charity, Colony’s has always had a larger sense of mission. That was clear in the wake of the 2016 election, and it’s clear again with the community Colony director Jean Lin brought together for the closing night of Lightness.
As we’ll see in the images from the show, Lightness deals with light and lighting in design and showcases some brilliantly innovative plays on that theme. As Lin notes, this was a concept that cooperative formed together, “We decided as a group in August last year that Lightness was a compelling theme that could be interpreted in a broad variety of ways, the key to a group show.” It was this broadness of interpretation that came to the fore in the unexpected and perhaps unprecedented 3-hour marathon of speakers that closed the show. Here we saw lightness as freedom in a reading from The Unbearable Lightness of Being; we saw it as the opposite of heaviness in a description of the sperm whale Leviathan from what else but Moby Dick. Lightness was also the lightness of information and LED lights were poetry for Susan Szenasy, the editor of Metropolis Magazine. And so as the late-spring dusk settled over the backdrop of Canal Street, the lightness spread through readings from Atwood to Rilke to further original meditations.
The show itself was similarly inventive in how the exhibited pieces connected with light. The room was illuminated by some amazing light fixtures, of course. The luminescent floor totem by Ryden & Lanette Rizzo of Allied Maker is brilliantly innovative and enviably gorgeous. Also innovative were the illuminated triangle pieces by Farrah Sit, which are suggestive of a sacred futuristic ritual. There were also mushrooms everywhere, thriving somehow outside of the shade of the forest. There was light by way of reflection in the mirrored mass by Erickson Aesthetics, which decorated the floor, and there was the play of light by way of its gentle impediment, represented by Hiroko Takeda’s stunning textiles hanging from the ceiling. As the show’s clever subtitle suggests, this multifaceted look at light was all intentional. To quote Jean, “We really wanted the exhibit to be multi-faceted and have meaning beyond design. We grounded our planning and thoughts around design concepts of lightness: Color, materials, forms, luminescence. From there we were able to expand into mediums that felt natural to the space and our vision as Colony. Literary, spatial and auditory forms of expression worked wonderfully well to highlight the design work in the gallery.”
We grounded our planning and thoughts around design concepts of lightness: color, materials, forms, luminescence.