What is the relationship between eros and design? A survey by curator Silvana Annicchiarico for the “Kama Sex and Design” exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum (Milan) gives a historical, mythical and anthropological perspective on the roots of sex and design, with more than 300 archaeological finds from pictures, objects and drawings by international artists and designers.
In the title itself, Kama refers to the Hindu god of pleasure, love and desire. As a starting point, Silvana Annicchiarico explains: “the exhibition investigates how sex is present in everyday objects”, thus she divides the display into eight sections: Archetypes, Priapus, Origin du Monde, Breasts, Buttocks, Orifices, Couplings and Erotic Food Design. The main central installation is called Anatomical Atlas of the Erotic Refined Body and is surrounded by objects and drawings from ancient Roman phallic amulets to more contemporary designs like Mae West Sofa by Salvador Dalì, pictures by Carlo Mollino and Ettore Sottsass and the provocative Great Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney.
Ettore Sottsass, Shiva, vaso/vase, 1971, BD Barcellona Design, Courtesy Collezione Permanente del Design Italiano, Triennale Design Museum
Salvador Dalí, Mae West Lips Sofa, 1936, edition 1974, Courtesy Stratton Foundation for the cultural arts, © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation by SIAE 2012
In addition, eight international designers and architects were commissioned to create site-specific installations that relates to sex and design: Andrea Branzi, Nacho Carbonell, Nigel Coates, Matali Crasset, Lapo Lani, Nendo, Italo Rota and Betony Vernon.
Nendo, Shivering-bowls, 2012
As Nendo explains: “We located the intersection of eros and design in the spiritual pleasure provided by an object’s touch, and decided to make an extremely thin bowl out of silicon for our contribution. The bowl resembles a ceramic one, but with a tension to this perception, generated by the extreme thinness that would be impossible to achieve with clay. The bowl changes shape as easily as liquid when it is touched, and continues to quiver momentarily in response to the outside force. We wanted to express eros through a design that invokes desire – a design that viewers simply can’t bear not to touch.”
The exhibition is forbidden for those aged under 18 because of its graphic content.
Triennale Design Museum, Milan
5th December 2012 – 10th March 2013