Objects of Desire

Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

Devoted to the exchange between Surrealism and design, the exhibition »Objects of Desire« sheds light on this fascinating and ongoing creative dialogue by juxtaposing works of Surrealist art and outstanding design objects from the past 100 years, including works by BLESS, Le Corbusier, Salvador Dalí, Front, Iris van Herpen, Frederick Kiesler, Shiro Kuramata, Carlo Mollino, René Magritte, and many others.

During Surrealism’s emergence, everyday objects and interiors played an important role for many of the movement’s artists. Inspired by the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Marcel Duchamp, artists such as Meret Oppenheim and Salvador Dalí sought to capture the aura and the mysterious side of everyday things by creating absurd objects from found materials and items. 

From the 1930s onwards, this approach has had a growing influence on designers such as Charlotte Perriand or Le Corbusier, whose term »objets à réaction poétique« demonstrates his concern with the symbolic and narrative power of things. At the same time, Ray Eames, Frederick Kiesler, and Isamu Noguchi in the United States were in close contact with artists such as Hans Hoffmann and Jean Arp, which led to organic, anthropomorphic forms that had a profound impact on American post-war design. After 1945, designers such as Achille Castiglioni and Gae Aulenti adopted the idea of the readymade and collage from the arts. 

Today, the playful and often mysterious language of Surrealism has become integral to the works of many contemporary designers around the globe, including Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Robert Stadler, or Wieki Somers. The movement has helped liberate design from the functionalist dogma by showing that form does not always have to follow function but can instead express obsessions, the unconscious, dreams, or even private mythologies.

600 – 1,200 m² / 6,000 – 12,000 sq ft

Mateo Kries

Exhibition Design
emyl, Basel

Graphic Design
Daniel Streat, Visual Fields

Detailed information
Illustrated Concept

Exhibition Tour
28.09.2019 – 19.01.2020, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany
27.02.2020 – 27.09.2020, CaixaForum Barcelona, Spain
12.11.2020 – 21.03.2021, CaixaForum Madrid, Spain
27.04.2021 – 22.08.2021, CaixaForum Sevilla, Spain
28.09.2021 – 30.01.2022, CaixaForum Girona, Spain
07.04.2022 – 28.08.2022, Cidade da Cultura, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
13.10.2022 – 19.02.2023, The Design Museum, London, United Kingdom
07.03.2024 – 04.08.2024, mudac, Lausanne, Switzerland 

For further information please contact Cora.Harris@design-museum.de