Surrealism and design, an exhibition in London

Surrealism and design, an exhibition in London


Until 19 February 2023, the exhibition Objects of Desire, at the Design Museum in London, looks at the impact Surrealism had on the world of design: from the production of everyday items and furnishings to fashion and the human body. The different fields are explored in the four sections of this lavish exhibition of 350 works. Guided by their desire to uncover the hidden side of reality and bring out the creative power of the subconscious, the surrealists created totally new and seemingly delirious images, compositions and combinations.

The exhibition starts with celebrated works by the movement’s protagonists – Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone and Man Ray’s Cadeau, which blur the distinction between art and furnishing – and goes on to examine its influence on the work of artists and designers from the 1940s onwards. Other exhibits include the Sella (‘saddle’) chair by the Castiglioni brothers, the Hand chair by Pedro Friedeberg and Gae Aulenti’s Table on Wheels.

Gae Aulenti, Tavolo con ruote, per FontanaArte, 1993. Glass, bicycle wheels. (Courtesy Vitra Design Museum)
Objects of desire Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today, installation view. (ph. Andy Stagg)
Objects of desire Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today, installation view. (ph. Andy Stagg)

This subversive world also influenced fashion, as documented through photographs by Lee Miller and Man Ray, and the garments and other items that came out of the association between Dalí and Elsa Schiaparelli, such as the powder compact in the shape of a telephone dial. The final section is devoted to the human body, desire and sexuality. On display alongside photographs by Claude Cahun and Rrose Selavy (Marcel Duchamp’s female alter-ego) are the provocative chair with breasts by Sarah Lucas and the sensorial brushes by the young artist Najla el Zein.


Objects of desire
Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today
14 October 2022 – 19 February 2023


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