“Every morning before I design anything,” Ini Archibong has said, “I read a spiritual excerpt of some sort. Something that is going to put me in a state where I’m dedicating myself to my day, to evolving my awareness. I almost can’t create otherwise.” It was this pattern of thinking that led him to create Ritual Calendar. At first encounter, it is a puzzling thing: a four-foot-high dolmen in black marble, punctuated by 31 beige marble objects. What could it be for? Answering that question involves an expansion of the usual definition of function. For Archibong intends the owner of the work to remove one of the hand-carved “totems,” each of which is of a size and shape to nestle in the hand, and carry it with them throughout the day: a daily ritual to promote mindfulness.
It’s a profound idea, and one embedded in Archibong’s holistic perspective. He experiences spirituality not as a realm set apart, but simply as an aspect of daily life — a worldview completely at odds with modern technocracy, though found in many world cultures. And elsewhere in design, too. In their own very different ways, Rick Owens and Misha Kahn also infuse the everyday with a degree of enchantment. This is intrinsic to Owens’s public persona; he presents himself as the occult sorcerer of the fashion scene. His bronze wall lamp lives up to that ideal. It could be a prop for some brilliant, as-yet-unrealized film, set in a dark but enthralling future.
Kahn, meanwhile, offers a more lighthearted take on enchantment — his archly titled Enchanté sconce is to some extent a send-up of the very idea. But there’s also a real genuineness in what he makes, a 110% commitment to “more is more” aesthetics. As a result, though they are hardly religious in any sense, his objects do have a kind of profane magic in them. No less than Archibong, Kahn puts himself into what he makes, heart and soul.
DNA is a collaborative essay project, intertwining three gallery programs into a single, generative presentation.