A/D/O by MINI | Glow Up with In Good Company



Glow Up with In Good Company

Through the winter, six emerging designers brighten the courtyard at A/D/O with site-specific lighting commissioned for the MINI Electric Experience.

The darkness of the winter months in New York City can be bleak and somber. Seasonal affective disorder, anyone? But the courtyard at A/D/O by MINI is illuminated with original lighting pieces by emerging designers, providing glimmers of warmth and welcome that should remedy the icy blues without any holiday kitsch.

The showcase, titled Glow Up, is curated in partnership with In Good Company, co-founded by designer Fernando Mastrangelo and Kris Ghadry as a platform to promote the work of emerging design talent “without any sort of commercial or creative restraints.”

“In the years that we were working together, we found that there are so many young designers who are extraordinarily talented, but they just have no idea how to get their work shown,” Ghadry told The Journal. “So we thought it would be best – since we have this gorgeous gallery space in East New York – to do an annual exhibition where we reach out to the emerging designer community and ask them to make the piece of their dreams.”

The Glow Up exhibition was curated by A/D/O and In Good Company.

For the past three years, the duo has organized and hosted the exhibition at their space to display such work. This year’s edition, which ran from September 13 to October 13, was co-curated with Milanese design legend Rossana Orlandi and a jury of industry experts. A dedicated website was also recently launched to further help the designers sell their work and propel their studios financially.

“A lot of people have been able to launch their careers, or partner with galleries or they’re asked to do larger fairs,” Ghadry said. “It's gaining momentum and actually has the impact that we had intended, which is really fabulous.”

Situated in the A/D/O courtyard, the showcase includes pieces by six emerging designers.

From the selection of designers who submitted for the 2019 In Good Company showcase, six were asked to create site-specific lighting designs for the courtyard at A/D/O. This is the first time that the In Good Company initiative is partnering with another institution, aligning in shared visions to support up-and-coming design talent.

Nick Missel, Bailey Fontaine, Amanda Richards, Gregory Benson, Marco Piscitelli, and Arcana all worked in their signature styles to develop the custom pieces. They were all tasked with responding to the urban industrial context of the Greenpoint neighborhood, and the “Charged with Passion” ethos of the new all-electric MINI. For several of the designers, this marks their debut lighting product. Most are also local to Brooklyn, and all are based in the Northeast US.

“MINI is the quintessential urban car, and we thought this to be a really good opportunity to bring together a lot of different design languages that are all very referential of the urban landscape,” said Ghadry.

Nick Missel's design is capped with spongey silicone.
The light by Bailey Fontaine comprises an orb poking through mirrored panels.

Missel, who began his career as a sculptor, has adapted his technique that involves creating molds from found objects, and using them to produce spongey silicone and foam replicas. Similar to his Negatives Bench, which was awarded first prize by this year’s In Good Company jury, the lighting design for Glow Up has a monolithic quality and rubbery texture, but will glow from within.

An arc of faceted concrete bars with mirrored bases appears to intersect a glowing globe as part of Fontaine’s design. No stranger to lighting, the designer’s use of minimal forms and planes in a range of finishes and textures is typical of his portfolio, but the scale of this piece has pushed his ideas.

Metallic veins run through the glowing resin ellipsoids by Amanda Richards.

Combining metal and resin, Richards’ series of suspended ellipsoids radiate from within. The designs are different sizes but each feature the same smooth surfaces and patterns created before the liquid metal solidified in the molds.

Benson expands on his previous work with pink Himalayan salt, which he carved into blocks and stacked into Art Deco-style furniture for the last In Good Company exhibition. This time, he has placed the salt bricks on top of brass podiums. As the salt weathers and erodes, it will patina the metal stands – changing constantly throughout the duration of the exhibit. Coincidentally, Benson is also creating dinnerware for the upcoming Rule of Thirds restaurant at A/D/O.

Pink Himalayan salt will gradually patina the copper stands of Gregory Benson's designs.

Ribbed polyethylene cylinders with tips dipped in paint are clustered to form a contemporary take on a chandelier, designed by Piscitelli. Arranged in a grid formation, the nine identical elements are based on traffic bollards and hang so the lights inside point downwards to create spots on the ground.

Finally, artist-architect duo Arcana has taken the industrial context literally, using a bent metal truss as the base for their design. The piece, shaped slightly like a candy cane, hooks over one of the courtyard beams and incorporates linear fluorescent bulbs between the steel bracing. It nods to scaffolding and construction found across the city.

Marco Piscitelli turned traffic bollards into a grid of nine spotlights.
Arcana's bent metal truss hangs over a beam and holds fluorescent bulbs.

“[The designers] were able to get super creative, because they're at that stage in their career where they're all very experimental,” said Ghadry. “They don't have anyone telling them that they need to make sellable works, or that a certain color is popular right now. They are just diving into their own creative endeavors and doing so quite successfully.”

All of the designs are installed at A/D/O to coincide with the MINI Electric Ecosystem event, which celebrates the launch of the MINI Cooper SE. Lighting was chosen for its obvious connections to the electric theme, and provided an opportunity to illuminate the entry space and make it more welcoming. Since the pieces are exhibited outdoors, “it was a challenge for everyone to make sure that the designs were all weatherproof,” according to Ghadry. But it does offer the possibility of a snowy backdrop at some point before the show closes March 10, 2020.

Wandering through the courtyard space dotted with these beacons, visitors can expect to be uplifted by the vision and ingenuity of the emerging designers. And in the dark and the cold, their designs should certainly brighten and warm spirits.

Glow Up remains on view until March 10, 2020.

The MINI Electric Ecosystem event takes place at A/D/O on December 10, 2019. Glow Up is on view in the courtyard at A/D/O.

Text by Dan Howarth.

Photography by Daniel Seung Lee.

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