Recently opened at Paris' The Carpenters Workshop Gallery, photographer-turned-designer Stuart Haygarth's "Play" showcases fascinating pieces of furniture, from lighting to tables. Upon first blush, the British designer's sculptural works appear as the usual kinds of pieces found at a contemporary furniture fair, but when viewed a little closer with a more careful eye, it's clear they far surpass the ordinary furnishing thanks to the incorporation of recycled objects, such as old eyeglass lenses or plastic rubbish.
Haygarth's approach involves assembling found objects to form new pieces; the outcome is half-sculpture and half-furniture, but always spectacular. His use of forgotten and discarded objects is intrinsically linked with his desire to give each item new life, and make them part of a new history. The overlooked and everyday become fascinating and extraordinary—the influence of Surrealism and its way of regarding objects as masterpieces is evident.
Haygarth often bases his works on narratives, as with "Sharp Project" (2003-2006) in which he re-appropriated items that were confiscated from passengers boarding British Airways flights. In his iconic "Tide Chandelier"—which can be seen in the current exhibition—dozens of broken and rejected plastic objects that washed up on the beach at Dungeness (on Kent's coast in the UK) were sewn to create a huge, stunning chandelier. This work, and others on display, revolve around the idea of collection. From there, his process follows a precise methodology in which Haygarth classifies everything according to two categories—color and function.
In addition to the collecting and classifying, the artist displays a functional talent for mastering and modulating light. His magic touch converts detritus into something truly special, generating a kind of metamorphosis. At the current show, a series of ceiling lights particularly illustrates this. The "Optical" series, composed of eyeglass lenses, glitters with an explosion of light, taking advantage of the refraction power of its 4,500 lenses—when switched off, it imitates a mirrored disco ball. Another project, called "Urchins," uses the arms of spectacles and perfectly reflects its name—the chandelier looks like a shaggy, giant creature from the deep.
Stuart Haygarth's "Play" is currently on show at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris until 10 May 2014.
Lead image courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, all others by Isabelle Doal