A glimpse into the first ever Paolo Pallucco retrospective exhibition in Paris

Titled Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all., the show at Ketabi Projects in Paris takes viewers on a journey through the radical furniture designer’s illustrious career.

by Pallavi MehraPublished on : Mar 15, 2022

Postmodern design experts Paul Bourdet, Ștefan Cosma and Ketabi Projects have come together to unveil a retrospective exhibition titled Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That's all. The exhibit is on view until March 20, 2022, at the art gallery ​​Ketabi Projects in Paris. The curators of the exhibit are Paul Bourdet, the founder of Paul Bourdet Fine Furniture, an antique store in Paris, and Ștefan Cosma, the owner of Eclectico Studio, a design gallery in Bucharest. Paolo Pallucco was born in Rome, Italy, in 1950. He studied to be an architect, and is considered one of the most radical product designers of the 1980s, both in terms of the non-conformist pieces he produced, as well as his colourful personality.

  • Ștefan Cosma (left), Charlotte Ketabi-Lebard (owner of Ketabi Projects) and Paul Bourdet are the curators of the show | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    Ștefan Cosma (left), Charlotte Ketabi-Lebard (owner of Ketabi Projects) and Paul Bourdet are the curators of the show Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro
  • Paolo Pallucco’s path-breaking products are an amalgamation of art, architecture and design | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    Paolo Pallucco’s path-breaking products are an amalgamation of art, architecture and design Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

Undoubtedly, Pallucco’s path-breaking products are an amalgamation of art, architecture, and design. They push the boundaries of contemporary design and are embodiments of the freedom of expression. “The lack of interest in comfort, in selling strategies, and just the pure pursuit of his dreams, the short but so intense time of his productivity and success going only for a decade, from 1979 to 1989, and the fact that he radically sold his company at the peek of his success, makes Paolo Pallucco one of the most fascinating and enigmatic designers of the 80s,” remarks Ștefan Cosma of Eclectico Studio.

  • Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s All. displays a collection of forty pieces | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.| Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s All. displays a collection of forty pieces Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro
  • Paolo Pallucco and Mireille Rivier’s Hans e Alice chair, ca. 1987 | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    Paolo Pallucco and Mireille Rivier’s Hans e Alice chair, ca. 1987 Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

The Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s All. displays a collection of 40 pieces, all designed for the Pallucco brand in the 1980s by Pallucco himself, his wife Mireille Rivier, and popular Japanese fashion designer, Rei Kawakubo, among others. Along with producing his own designs, Pallucco also designed products for a few other designers including Kawakubo. After an aesthetic shock during his visit to the Comme des Garçons boutique in Tokyo, Pallucco offered the Japanese designer an opportunity to collaborate. This resulted in Pallucco producing Kawakubo's designs under his eponymous label.

  • What sets Pallucco’s products apart from other 1980s-era radical designers is his use of overtly minimalist, metal frames finished in black | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    What sets Pallucco’s products apart from other 1980s-era radical designers is his use of overtly minimalist, metal frames finished in black Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro
  • The exhibition showcases Pallucco’s typical postmodern furniture | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    The exhibition showcases Pallucco’s typical postmodern furniture Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

"The idea of organising this retrospective started two years ago. After finding a few of his pieces in a very short time, a more in-depth research of his work was started, and after watching the documentary on Vimeo about his last two exhibitions at the Mattatoio in Milano, both Paul and I were so impressed, we decided to really work together on this show. We were fascinated by the mystery surrounding his personal life, fascinated by his encounters with Rei Kawakubo (who he met in Tokyo in the early 80s), his collaborations with Peter Lindbergh (who shot his catalogue), the scenographer of Pina Bausch and many others he managed to implicate in his projects,” adds Cosma.

Inspired by his many travels to Japan, Paolo Palluco aligned his vision to a very dark minimalist style | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
Inspired by his many travels to Japan, Paolo Palluco aligned his vision to a very dark minimalist style Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

Paulo Pallucco founded the company Pallucco in 1980. The brand became successful by producing re-editions of forgotten creations from the first half of the 20th century. Thanks to his success with the re-editions, Pallucco had at his disposal the most advanced industrial production techniques, giving him the means to later produce radical furniture of exceptional quality.

Paolo Pallucco and Mireille Rivier’s Barba d’Argento armchair, ca. 1986 | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
Paolo Pallucco and Mireille Rivier’s Barba d’Argento armchair, ca. 1986 Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

This new exhibition showcases Pallucco’s typical postmodern furniture that includes interesting pieces such as chair structures intersected by oversized crosses, sit-backs arching insouciantly into the ground, and coffee tables that mimic the continuous-track wheels of a tank. What sets Pallucco’s products apart from other 1980s-era radical designers is his use of overtly minimalist, rail-thin metal frames finished primarily in black.

Paolo Pallucco’s iconic Merry Go Round Armchair | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
Paolo Pallucco’s iconic Merry Go Round Armchair Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

“Inspired by his many travels to Japan, Palluco aligned his vision to a very dark minimalist style, inspired by the three words "duro, semplice, and scuro" (durable, simple and dark), that define his creations. Staying true to himself, all his creations are monochrome, a powerful heavy metal symphony of uncomfortable design that still is poetic, exceptionally well produced, and maybe the most radical the radical 80s have seen,” remarks Cosma.

Paolo’s furniture pieces should not be appreciated only by their aesthetic aspect but also through all the diverse references they integrate | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
Paolo’s furniture pieces should not be appreciated only by their aesthetic aspect but also through all the diverse references they integrate Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

Furthermore, while Pallucco's designs are postmodern, they celebrate ancient techniques such as glass blowing, and explore the technical and aesthetic potential of traditional metal mesh. His furniture pieces should not be appreciated only by their aesthetic aspect, but also through all the diverse references they integrate. "His various inspirations for the pieces are equally diverse, ranging from poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, the philosopher Wittgenstein or movies such as Stalker from 1979 by Andrey Tarkovski. Fascinating also, is the very strong creative liaison with his wife Mireille Rivier, who studied architecture in Lausanne in Switzerland, she being the one who followed up on his ideas, being the rational technical mind, to bring to life the crazy ideas of the visionary, avant-garde Pallucco. The creations are signed with their four hands. He, a crazy dreamer, with the ideas; she, a pragmatic designer, transposing them to reality, making them feasible and producible. The designs are thus the fruit of a love story, of a complicity, and a complementarity,” adds Cosma.

  • Paolo Pallucco & Mireille Rivier’s XX Tankette' table | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    Paolo Pallucco & Mireille Rivier’s XX Tankette' table Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro
  • Bocca da Fuoco Coat hanger by Paolo Pallucco & Mireille Rivier | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
    Bocca da Fuoco Coat hanger by Paolo Pallucco & Mireille Rivier Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

Moreover, Pallucco’s creations are deeply anchored in the 1980s ideology of the refusal of the previous decades and the modernist doctrines. His pieces integrate many references to the vocabulary of warfare, such as the coffee table Tankette from 1987, evoking the chains of a tank, the armchair Barba d’Argento from 1986 recalling a machine gun, or the coat rack Bocca da Fuoco from 1987, mimicking a cannon in full explosion.

The ongoing popularity of non-conformist furniture makes Pallucco’s works relevant in today’s world | Paolo Pallucco: Luck and Sex. That’s all.|  Paolo Pallucco | STIRworld
The ongoing popularity of non-conformist furniture makes Pallucco’s works relevant in today’s world Image: Courtesy of Studio Shapiro

The ongoing popularity of non-conformist furniture and decor, and the need to protect age-old techniques makes Pallucco’s works relevant in today’s world. “I think that his work is relevant in today’s design market, because we are in a time of rediscovery with a strong appeal for radical design. So, stars align for this forgotten genius!” concludes Paul Bourdet, of Paul Bourdet Fine Furniture.

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