transplant, galleria Luisa delle Piane

  • objets

transplant, galleria Luisa delle Piane



transplant:  matali crasset presents at galleria Luisa delle Piane a series of elements in blown glass with roughly the same base, stem and structure, except for the geometric glass flowers that are round, conical or take the contours of the lease, all placed on a wooden boat with each element differing from the others.  The glass of which transplant is almost entirely made of celebrates transparency and clarity and, above all, it is the eulogist of the psychological and sensorial values that the olfactory promises, because very close by an essential, obviously natural oil is disseminated discreetly unveiling the presence of an odor that transplant formally invokes.

While we recognize at first glance matali crasset’s interest in revisitng the vegetal world over the past few years, transplant nonetheless seems to be a new kind, a fruit of an astonishing DNA in the register of the designer as in that of the plants.  That is, at first sight, transplant does not seem to meet a new typology in the service of blooming empathy.  These symbolic and achetypical forms of flowers and vase are artificial and fragile, much less than the real thing of course, but what of their function?  Is it an invention of the day-to-day?  Although it is now agreed to refrain from opposing the decorative and the function, these flowers-vases of translucent glass stripped of any functionality, and to defend a fresh gratuitous principle in matali crasset.  If such is the case, it is doubtless not alarming because, since the famous debate between Herman Muthesius and Henry van de Velde in 1914 on the inaugural Deutscher Werkbund show in Cologne, it is understood that design has no more obligation of function than of decoration.  To dissect transplant, let us make a brief detour through two events of the 19th century at the birth of design.  Let us go back to the father of the functionalist movement, the architect Sullivan who, when he pronounced his famous maxim that “form follows function, such is the law,” it succeeded a no less important phrase that explained that the architect had been inspired for it after an emotional observation of nature.  Was it not flora that inspired Charles Darwin’s laws of natural selection, whose grandfather had previously laid the foundations by cataloguing the sexuality of the plants in scientific herbaria?  Nature, and these examples are witness to it, has never stopped being the source of inspiration of the most rational and strictest presuppositions.  Might an unnatural functionality be hidden here?  Has matali crasset, who has accustomed us to turning away from conveniences and removing the bourgeois from design, finally renounced this modus operandi?

transplant borrows the flora, as in withdrawal, by line and contour, but these formal syntheses mainly reflect an idea of nature.  They deliberately display their artificial hybridity, to the point of wondering if they could not ideally close the genealogy of the natural selection initiated by Darwin.  Following the example of the robots of R.U.R. (1922), by the playwright Karel Capek, inventor of the robot (from the Hungarian robota, meaning “worker” in English), whom man envies the capacity to accomplish tasks without fatigue and efficiently, they aspire to a soul.  In its turn, would transplant embody a possible future botanic, a de-incarnated cross-breeding, and the disappearance of organic life in favor of artificiality?  Following the example of Capek’s play, which ends with the extinction of men and the robots’ awareness of the soul, taking this parallel, transplant is like one last metamorphosis of a strangely disquieting flora, the fir support of which hints slightly of the coffin and burials, leaving full freedom of interpretation because it is not said which death is celebrated.  Reference to the prosthetic transformation of the body?  or is it rather a funeral oration of the function, or to the contrary of the décor, or of the artificial, or yet a critical standard of the manner in which nature is mishandled?  It is up to each to decide …or not, because this entirely mineral artificial landscape above all does not avoid recalling the exaltation of the poet’s soul, to which this extract from Charles Baudelaire’s Anywhere out of the World bears witness:  “There’s a landscape to your liking, a landscape made of light and mineral, and liquid to reflect them!”[1]

Artificial, the hybrids combine the function of vase with that of a tutor stick.  The surprise comes from the fact that transplant is a decorative object and that this object is a territory that had been voluntarily foreign to matali crasset’s explorations until then.  But the reduction attached to the decorative deserves to be revisited.  As the popular Art Nouveau movement teaches, which was often considered as a victory of the decorative over reason, it was actually a matter of using the characteristics of the materials, like glass, for example, not only to magnify nature but also to insist on the structural and architectonic value of the ornament.  It is in a similar tension that transplant engages.  It sublimates natures, reveals the functionality inherent in the biological form, and poetically metamorphoses space.  Moreover, the ornament, neither technical nor symbolic, plays a role of greater importance.  It stimulates an “art will,” which Aloïs Reigl qualified as Kunstwollen or “instinct of immanent artistic creation,”[2] and which expressed the aesthetic dimension inherent to each.  So transplant is thus not bluntly formal, any more than it would be sanctimoniously functional.  It is an aesthetic and poetic experience of design.


Alexandra Midal


[1]   "Tell me, my soul, poor frozen soul, what would you think of living in Lisbon?  It must be hot there, and you would come alive again like a lizard.  This city is at the water’s edge, they say it is built in marble, and that the people have a hatred of the vegetal there, that they pull out all the trees.  There’s a landscape to your liking, a landscape made of light and mineral, and liquid to reflect them!" in Le Spleen de Paris, Petits Poèmes en Prose (1869).

[2] In Questions de Style (1893)



  • Patrick Gries
  • Andrea Zani, courtesy galleria Luisa delle Piane