Robert Stadler: Playdate
Paris-based, and internationally recognized, designer Robert Stadler has been working with The Glass House since 2020 on an innovative exhibition directly connected to our own site. This series of design interventions will now be open to the public in an exhibition that details how Stadler has deeply considered the history of The Glass House, its collections, and its former occupants, while keeping his creative eye focused on contemporary design juxtaposed with art.
The works will activate multiple locations at The Glass House: the Sculpture Gallery (1970), Da Monsta (1995), the Glass House’s main glass structure (1949), and the landscape itself, as a dialogue with the central core of the property. Much of the presented work is receiving its international premiere at The Glass House. Fascinated by Philip Johnson’s commitment to design as well as the architect’s signature wit, Stadler has named the exhibition, Playdate.
Asked about his approach to reinterpreting The Glass House through his own design objects, Stadler noted: ”Critiqued for being inconsistent, Johnson once brilliantly stated he was a ‘consistent chameleon.’ I see this presupposed inconsistency more like a great freedom. He had an inner urge to break with certain conventions defining a serious, ideological approach to architecture for the sake of avoiding the worst, which would be boredom and dull clients.”
The Glass House first approached Stadler about a collaboration prior to the pandemic but had to delay this important exhibition until it could be coordinated with Stadler’s residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. There he will work with students this fall to explore the opportunities of design in a social media-dominated world.
The first part of the exhibition can be seen beginning on Friday, September 9 and includes two series that are international premieres. Five works of the series OMG-GMO will be installed in the Glass House itself as a dialogue with its original collection of Bauhaus furniture. A reference to genetically modified food, OMG-GMO’s works appear to be constructed from fruits and vegetables and underscore the critical relationship between nature and design; The Glass House will act as a metaphorical greenhouse for these seemingly incongruous, yet carefully crafted designs, which encourage the viewer to reinterpret what can be housed in this landmark of modern architecture and question how we attempt to reprogram nature itself.
Conceived as a series of small-scale monuments, these objects both criticize and mock human manipulation of nature; a slice of rectangular seedless watermelon becomes the seat of a stool and bananas bend to form a clothes rack. Nature is in the service of design.
In the Sculpture Gallery, Stadler has created an installation, Richard, which playfully addresses Johnson’s concept of “safe danger.” Johnson was known for integrating a sense of titillation within his architecture – at the Sculpture Gallery its glass ceiling and central, rail-less stairway are examples of this. Stadler statically places nearly a dozen painted bowling balls, which clearly indicate movement. These spheres combine the utilitarian with the artistic in an environment filled with precious works by major figures of postwar 20th-century American art, from Frank Stella to Michael Heizer. In a nod to Richard Artschwager’s Yes/No, which employed bowling balls inscribed with “YES” and “NO” to be distributed on a gallery floor, Stadler reinterprets the traditional black bowling ball as something that begins with color and then needs to be altered with the addition of black to its surface before curating these among The Glass House’s notable permanent collection.
The second stage of Stadler’s exhibition will be available to the public in early October. Within Da Monsta, the last building constructed by Johnson on site, Stadler will install a work in light that juxtaposes hard surfaces with the immateriality of light, Soft Screen. Also on display will be New Paintings #1, a table that integrates a marble inlay top, blurring the line between art and furnishing.
Outdoors, several pieces from Stadler’s stone furniture collection, Ditto, will grace the hillside across from The Glass House to present both a focal point from and to that grouping in direct visual communication with the Glass House’s main structure. This grouping of Ditto will make a statement about the absence of Philip Johnson and David Whitney from the property they spent decades designing together and at which they hosted great gatherings of creative talent.
It is this eclecticism of Johnson and Whitney that motivated Stadler to bring the breadth of design approaches to The Glass House. Like Johnson himself, Stadler is not defined by a single visual style. Instead, his work is unified by Stadler’s focus on innovation and conceptual frameworks—towards materials and forms—that bridge the playful with utility, serious intention, and social commentary.
Richard, Soft Screen and OMG-GMO are international premieres.
Soft Screen, New Paintings #1 and Ditto, are courtesy of the generous support of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, where this fall Stadler’s work is featured in an exhibition in New York alongside the art of Richard Artschwager. OMG-GMO appears courtesy of the kind support of Carwan Gallery, Athens-Greece and master-ceramicists BITOSSI.
The exhibition is presented by the curatorial department of The Glass House with the assistance of Studio Robert Stadler, Paris.
About Robert Stadler
Robert Stadler was born in 1966 in Vienna, Austria. He studied design at IED/Milan and at ENSCI/Paris. In 1992 he cofounded the Radi Designers group which was active until 2008. The group created limited edition pieces as well as major industrial design commissions for Air France or Moulinex.
In 2001 Robert Stadler set up his own design studio in Paris. He works for clients such as Drucker, Hermès, Lobmeyr, Thonet and Vitra and also has created a number of limited-edition pieces for Carpenters Workshop Gallery. His work is included in the permanent collections of the MAK – Museum for Applied Arts / Contemporary Art in Vienna, Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Kunstmuseen Krefeld and Vitra Design Museum.
Stadler has also curated several exhibitions, amongst which are QUIZ at Galerie Poirel in Nancy and at MUDAM Luxemburg. In 2017 the Noguchi Museum in New York presented his first institutional exhibition in the US in dialogue with Isamu Noguchi’s works. In the same year his first survey exhibition was shown at Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau in Dresden, Germany. He designed and curated the exhibition Typecasting – An Assembly of Iconic, Forgotten and New Vitra Characters at La Pelota during Milan Design Week 2018.
Robert Stadler intervenes in diverse fields, obliterating hierarchies between — as he puts it — Duty Free proposals, and industrial or public commissions. He regularly explores the exhibition context in order to question the identity of objects.