Picture this: You’re standing on the subway. The train begins to fill, begins to move, it lurches forward and the man standing next to you grabs the bar, right above your hand. Touching your hand. It’s awkward, it’s intimate, it can be off-putting and germy (who knows where those palms have been?). It’s situations like these that are cleverly tackled at Uncomfortable Conversations, a show in the Meatpacking District curated by Liz Kinnmark and Kegan Fisher, the talented duo behind Design Glut.
Liz Kinnmark and Kegan Fisher, the dynamic duo behind Design Glut, have exhibited at the Javits Center the past few years, but decided that something off-site would allow them a little more freedom to be conceptual rather than product-driven.
Mind The Gap by Andrew Haarsager. This glove will eliminate any unwanted hand-to-hand contact on the subway.
Chi-Merica by Paul Loebach. This mirror represents the divide between American-made products and those produced in China.
In Case by Materious. A briefcase that conceals a paper shredder for the corrupt businessman.
Night Terror by Chrissy Conant. Sleep doesn't represent sweet dreams for some, and this explores the tension between evening "security and anxiety."
Kevin Carpet Bench by Will Robison. There are some folks in this world who find pleasure by being rolled up in a carpet, and there are some who seek it by sitting on them.
Will Robison was also there with Jacob Krupnick selling the featured designers' work through their company Subports, who—uncomfortable conversations aside—are hoping to redefine the retail experience and foster a sense of easily accessible community around independent design, designers, and afficionados. They’ve partnered with almost 70 designers so far, and the concept is simple: Register once with Subports (credit card and address), and purchasing products is only a text away. These pop-up events are perfect for the service: There's no need to source a bunch of stock on-site, or hassle with a credit card machine. Once you’ve signed up, all it takes is an sms with the name of what you'd like to buy, and the transaction is taken care of—you’ll be charged and the object of your desire will be sent to the address on file.
Sixteen designers were asked to approach the theme with an open mind and no restrictions. Andrew Hearsager used the close quarters of public transport as inspiration for Mind the Gap, a lambskin glove with solid silver spikes—the kind used to keep pigeons off of ledges—to keep undesired hand-to-hand contact to a minimum, and the range of installations tackled human exchanges, miscommunications, overconsumption and very bad kerning. Though the small space was conceived to make you squirm, that discomfort actually made for a fun, lighthearted vibe that made these pieces accessible and surprisingly enjoyable to engage with. Approaching these ideas head-on, it seems, was exhilarating for those who created them and those experiencing them.
Check out the slideshow for more uneasy-but-strangely-satisfying emotions.