Exhibition: Philippe Starck in Milan
At the Milan Triennial Palazzo dell'Arte, the brands Axor and Duravit will present a staging that was created together with Philippe Starck to celebrate their ten-year collaboration.
The Triennial Museum offers an ideal setting for this unusual event. What Starck created together with Duravit and Axor is not a product show but a theatrical staging in two tents. And their content has an effect in a highly unusual and, certainly, nicely provocative way – which is not at all surprising for Starck.
Starck, Axor and Duravit were not satisfied with just a conventional exhibition. This staging goes deeper and touches the most fundamental experiences that the regular user can have with the Duravit and Axor products. Starck remained loyal to his own approach. His designs includes human instincts as well as those everyday experiences that can influence the handling of the products and their perception.
In the cubic tent that presents the Duravit brand, visitors will find two toilet bowls that are simply placed on the ground. On them, two opera singers face each other and sing arias to one another. Starck thus turns the usual meaning of a toilet upside down. The normally enclosed space – literally the water closet – becomes a stage, a public performance. What is usually very private becomes a social event. It is no coincidence that the actors are dressed in baroque costumes. After all, not a single toilet was built in the late baroque Versailles castle. Instead, servants ran around with bowls offering mobile relief. Philippe Starck's provocative Triennial staging causes a considerable amount of irritation among the viewers – and it forces them to rethink that most everyday of objects, the toilet.
Starck stages the Axor brand in a similar way. As much as the toilet may be a quiet place, the faucets suffer from the self-evidence of their function. A faucet did not have an inherent message – at least until Starck dealt with it. Since then, the "faucet" has regained a sensual meaning beyond pure function. In this sense, Starck designed the Axor tent. Visitors to the tent see a large-scale, backlit X-ray shot of a female head in front of and behind an Axor Starck faucet. The image takes on a double meaning since the illuminated lady is seen licking the design armature with pointed tongue. Those who wish may see it as symbolizing the finiteness of water reserves and draw from that the ecologically correct appeal to save water. However, those who know Starck instead tend towards a more lascivious interpretation of the image – and the X-ray technology serves to abstract the erotic aspects. Nobody has ever seriously disputed that water and eroticism are closely connected. Alternatively, the "X-ray view" can be interpreted as an expression of the fact that design concepts are discussed here that go beyond superficial issues of style.
The staging can be seen from April 14-19, 2004 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Galleria C of the Triennial Palazzo dell'Arte.
You can obtain further information at www.starck-bad.de.