Simone Brewster: The Shape of Things

NOW Gallery, London, United Kingdom
29 Jun 2023 - 24 Sep 2023

Simone Brewster, Tropical Noire Collection, 2023. Courtesy of NOW Gallery

Simone Brewster, Tropical Noire Collection, 2023. Courtesy of NOW Gallery

On 29th June 2023, NOW Gallery on London’s Greenwich Peninsula will present its 2023 Design Commission, The Shape of Things, by one of the leading voices in contemporary design Simone Brewster. The Shape of Things is an exploration of the power of objects to communicate societal expectations of beauty, representation, and the talismanic qualities of objects that we use to empower ourselves.

The exhibition explores the concept of intimate architecture – the effect that texture and three dimensional form have on memory and emotion. The Shape of Things is an emotive display of objects that gain significant personal meaning from the tension and interaction between itself and its audience.

The exhibition presents a diverse range of works from furniture to painting, jewellery and sculpture that investigate the hidden linguistics behind design that are inherently entwined with societal norms and ideas of race, gender, equality and more. The Shape of Things encourages the viewers to reconsider their perception of everyday objects and the way we interact with them. Celebrating Brewster’s multidisciplinary approach to design and architecture, the boldly-coloured and geometric design envelops the viewers in an immersive display of colour and form. The viewers are also invited to use stamps designed by Brewster to create new designs inspired by her strong visual language.

As part of the African Diaspora, Brewster’s work marries Western and African visual languages, bridging the gap between these two histories, and the material shapes and forms that are imbued with cultural history and tradition. These dialogues of heritage, memory, race, gender, tradition and form are embodied in some of the key centrepieces of the exhibition. As a part of the display, Brewster will present a chaise lounge titled Negress which embodies a Modernist perspective on a deconstructed view of the Black female body, referencing and questioning the Primitivist and Cubist interpretation of the subject. The piece was acquired by the Smithsonian in 2022 and invites the viewer to re-examine their ways of interacting with the uncanny form of the chaise lounge.

In addition to this, Brewster will showcase a series of vessels, titled Tropical Noire, that reference the totemic statues and traditional Greek vessels, as well as Sub Saharan African sculpture and colonial artefacts. The collection clearly displays Brewster’s signature bold style of both ethnic and architectural elements which are also echoed across her paintings, drawings and jewellery showcased as a part of the exhibition.

Brewster will also present a series of brand new comb sculptures inspired by African hairstyles that are wearable and celebrate the designer’s heritage. The quietly political designs raise significant issues regarding race, gender and visibility in design and architecture spaces while celebrating Black British design and African heritage.




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