One of the most powerful booths at The Salon: Art + Design fair two weeks ago was the Carpenters Workshop Gallery space, which held the exceptional work of Ingrid Donat. I’ve followed her machinations in metal since Barry Friedman Gallery introduced her work to the U.S., always impressed with the precision she brings to bear on her artfully rendered furniture and sculptures, which have an architectural astuteness to them.
Ingrid Donat Metal Magesty
Upon Friedman’s retirement, her son Julien Lombrail and his business partner Loïc Le Gaillard, who own Carpenters Workshop Gallery, began representing the artist. Aside from a few sculptural pieces by Thomas Houseago, they filled the booth with Donat’s pieces at The Salon, a number of which were made specifically for the fair. Her work, most often in bronze, begins in wax, which she inscribes, carves and shapes to form the “skin” of the pieces she produces. I’ve always felt her limited edition furniture has a delicate armor-like fierceness—dainty swaths of chainmail solidified into undulant sheaths of symmetry. This serves as a powerful paradox for the most sophisticated room where a hint of textural bite is needed.
It’s no surprise that Donat was born into a family of creatives with disciplines ranging from architecture to art—her grandfather was the architect and her father a painter. She was born in Paris but was raised in Sweden, returning to her birth country in 1975 to pursue her passion for sculpture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. This move served her well, as Donat thrived in Paris. Her blossoming was due in part to a relationship with Sylva Bernt—Andre Arbus’ partner and a fellow sculptress who taught Donat the “art” of construction, casting, engraving, patinating and the myriad disciplines that help an artist to create exquisiteness in sculpture.
Other influencers have included Diego Giacometti, who urged her to design furniture; Egon Schiele; Georges Mine and Germaine Richler. The materials and colors she chooses are inspired by primitive and tribal arts, including tribal tattooing; the elegance of Art Deco; the organic forms of Art Nouveau; and the art of Gustav Klimt and Armand-Albert Rateu. Each piece she creates is cast in limited editions of 8 at Blanchet-Landowski Foundry on the outskirts of Paris and initialed by the artist.
The walls of the booth were covered in sculpted wood and bronze panels created by Donat—a resonant backdrop for furniture that included the Table Basse Anneaux, the Grande Commode aux 5 Engrenages and the Banc Tribal, a bench in bronze and leather. The latter two were created for the show.
I look forward to seeing the monograph Carpenters Workshop Gallery will publish on Donat’s work in 2015. If you happen to be going to Design Miami/, Lombrail and Le Gaillard will be showing quintessentially playful Studio Job furniture in their space. The Carpenters Workshop has galleries in London and Paris so stop by if you are in either city and let Productrazzi know what’s on view, please!
Text of Ingrid Donat Machinations in Metal © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here and Stranded on the Road to Promise. She also produces The Diary of an Improvateur and is a columnist on Architizer.