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by Tisha Leung

Beginning next month, Material ConneXion will present the first retrospective of work by self-trained designer and one-man operation Neal Small at their New York showroom. In the mid-'60s the New York designer came on the furniture scene as a young designer with a transformational idea for furniture—acrylic plastic. Better known as Plexiglas, Lucite and Acrylite, Small turned out innovative furniture, lighting and sculpture in a largely unexplored industrial material that was at the time mainly used for displays.

The designer once likened “old-fashioned furniture” to “a dead whale in the living room,” helping to ignite a craze for plastic furniture that lives on today. Injecting his wit and humor, he harnessed the material’s best characteristics in his plastic-shaping technique –bending, folding and molding all from one piece. Some of Small’s most well-known pieces will be on exhibit including his red acrylic splay-footed Floor Lamp (1966) and white spherical Area Lamp (1968, pictured below right) both from MoMA’s permanent collection. Also showcasing his ingenuity are his simple and efficient cocktail and end-table designs formed from single sheets of translucent acrylic.

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Small’s pieces are on permanent display in prominent institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Smithsonian, and the Walker Art Center. Material ConneXion is a global platform advancing new design solutions through the use of innovative materials.

Retrospective: Neal Small
1 April-12 June 2009
Material ConneXion Showroom
60 Madison Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10010 map
tel. +1 212 842 1509

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