Stefan Wewerka, Classroom Chair, 1971 © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich, © Patrick Goetelen, Visuel : Robert Wilson / RW Work, Ltd, New York
The mudac has the privilege of hosting one of the world's largest private collections of chairs by artists, designers and architects. This collection, initiated in the 1990s, is full of original seating proposals and its owner, Thierry Barbier-Mueller, has taken the step of presenting it to the public after more than 20 years of confidential passion.
In front of this so rich and diversified corpus, and in order to return to each chair its own specificity, it was proposed to the famous American director Robert Wilson, to imagine an immersive and exceptional scenography, borrowed from the repertory of the arts of the spectacle. Through him, the mudac exhibition reads like an immense opera, in several scenes. The semantic vocabulary slides, the director in the person of the collector makes the corpus available, the director makes a choice and directs the actors-chairs in sets and scenic atmospheres where sound and light amplify the dramaturgy of the narrative. The mudac offers a brand new theater by opening its first major exhibition on its 1500 m2 stage, within the Plateforme 10 arts district.
A Chair and You confronts the spectators with this object in four acts, as many scenic situations in which the history of design from the end of the 1960s to the present day can be read through this unique collection.
To underline the sculptural character of the elements of the collection Thierry Barbier-Mueller, the scenography is entrusted to the big director and American artist Robert Wilson. This exceptional scenography plunges the visitor-spectator in immersive universes where the chairs are treated like the protagonists of a living art show. Sound, light and scenery give to the whole a unique way to discover the iconic object of the design that is the chair and its numerous declensions.
In the 1990's Thierry Barbier-Mueller is fascinated by the creativity, the freshness and the formidable explosion of spontaneity of designers like Ron Arad, Tom Dixon or André Dubreuil. His acquisitions grow in a spontaneous way with the wire of the discoveries and the meetings until becoming a collection with whole share gathering more than six hundred and fifty chairs going of the years 1960 to today. The collection includes works by international designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Pol Quadens, Shiro Kuramata and Maarten Baas, as well as visual artists such as Donald Judd, Niki de Saint Phalle, Lawrence Weiner and Franz West.
Consisting of about two-thirds unique pieces, prototypes or works from small limited editions, the collection reflects this interest in atypical objects, outside the usual niches of industrial design. It is above all the object itself that fascinates him, its uniqueness, its plasticity, the humor it evokes or its materiality.
Musée cantonal de design et d’arts appliqués contemporains
Place de la Gare 17
From November, the book "The Spirit of the Chair" published by Lars Müller Publishers will be available. You will be able to find more details about the chair collection of Mr. Thierry Barbier-Mueller.