Last weekend I went to a design show closing and an art show opening, all in the same night! The former was for a new Chicago-area alliance that supports independent designers (makers who can’t afford/don’t want to mass manufacture objects). The latter was at a gallery where the owner tries to feature artists that represent the opposite of the art world stereotype (the frou-frou and pretentious).
Each space fulfilled its specific archetype – the design show had mostly functional objects with a crowd decked in gingham, Vans shoes, and screenprinted tote bags, while the art show had drawings and sculpture with a tattooed crowd donning black tees and Docs Martens …and a man dressed as an astronaut. But they were similar in how some work occupied the fuzzy boundary between the art and design: objects that could be functional and conceptual, if the rules of reality were manipulated, contemplated, or ignored. It’s a line we toe in every industry. But there was another similarity, and it was not a good one.