Looking around the website for Spain's Lladró, I was a bit conflicted. Their porcelain work is undoubtedly of the finest quality, in fact, one of their largest limited edition pieces goes for $140,000. And while some of their latest figurines have a very interestingly candid, almost Norman Rockwellian character that keeps them just barely this side of grandmotherly, I wonder if they don't sometimes get a little too close.
Nonetheless, the lines they were showing at the ICFF were fairly startling--in a good way. They've asked designers to take works from their back catalogue and reinterpret them in new, conceptual ways in a line called Re-Cyclos. With this and some other work, they've ended up with art objects that at first glance look very traditional, but upon closer inspection, are expressive, modern, and very unique.
This "Love" series of figurines was really what sold me, and I'm glad the rep (who was very nice, helpful, and enthusiastic--in my ongoing critiques of that) explained to me what it was (click for larger):
They're older pieces, but reinterpreted with tiny porcelain flowers representing the different stages of a love affair. I don't remember the exact terms she used, but essentially, "I" is infatuation, "II" is falling in love, and "III" is two become one, getting comfortable.
They do figurines of different breeds of dogs that are quite nice--if you know a serious dog lover, check them out. But this Re-Cyclos piece takes one of those and uses it to create a negative impression. There are some of these with male and female faces, as well:
Next up is a line called Naturofantastic, which is inspired by organic motifs, much of it underwater, but sort of abstracted to look almost alien in character. They're a little grotesque as well, but I think beautiful in a very uncommon way. Here's the vase--in white, which accentuates its forms:
The candlesticks and candelabra are a little much, but I suppose on a giant table, with the vase as centerpiece, the whole thing would be very stunning--in blue and gold, respectively:
I don't think I've seen anyone eat a soft-boiled egg in my entire lifetime (must be a European thing), but just in case, here's an egg holder thing with amazing salt & pepper shakers:
And my favorite of these, without question, is the bowl. It's about a foot in diameter:
Its ornamentation is flirting with being something 100 years old, but at the same time, in very subtle ways, it's quite visibly a brand new piece. It's beyond me why, when looking at new decorative items, we always have to forget about any kind of artistry. It's priced at $1500, which isn't too bad, but you're really getting something crafted for your money here. I think it's exquisite.
I wasn't even going to talk about their fragrance line, until I took a closer look at this, and realized what it actually is--it's a very abstracted human figure inspired by traditional Lladró figurines (click it):
The sweater is a liquid aroma diffuser, the face is a scented candle, and the hair is a solid aroma diffuser. It's almost funny in a whimsical sort of way.
A week or two after the show, they sent me an email with some pieces evidently released after they got back home, inspired by athletes, and just in time for the Olympics--a swimmer:
And a sprinter:
What I really like about these is how Classical they are. Of course the ancient Greeks were always celebrating their athletes in artwork. But then, if you look more closely, you see that these guys are wearing extremely high-tech sports gear. I love that duality.
©2008, Ryan Witte