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India Mahdavi and Daniel Emma soak the NGV International with sumptuous colour

NGV has done it once again, securing the internationally renowned India Mahdavi to design its latest major exhibition. Meanwhile, Daniel Emma studio takes over the NGV Kids gallery. All in all, it makes for an outstanding exhibition visit at NGV International.

India Mahdavi and Daniel Emma soak the NGV International with sumptuous colour

NGV is currently running two major programmes which confirm the gallery as one of Australia’s leading institutions for art and, importantly, design. Visitors to NGV International gallery can bask in the vivid hues of post-Impressionist master Pierre Bonnard, framed by the joyfully colourful and patterned exhibition designs of Paris-based architect India Mahdavi.

Meanwhile in the NGV Kids gallery, NGV has commissioned Adelaide design studio, Daniel Emma, to create a playground of creativity for its younger audiences with NGV Kids: Up, Down and All Around.

Presented in partnership with Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi marks an innovative union of classic art and contemporary design. Mahdavi, a virtuoso of colour and winner of the 2023 Wallpaper* Design Awards, has designed a setting that beautifully complements more than 100 works by Pierre Bonnard, on display. Bonnard’s delicate depictions of intimate interiors, natural landscapes and urban scenes, expressed through his signature iridescent palette, are thus framed within a canvas as expressive as the masterpieces themselves.

Inspired by Bonnard’s unique use of colour and texture, Mahdavi’s environment rekindles the wistful domestic intimacy that characterises Bonnard’s works. The acclaimed architect’s illustrious career has seen her named multiple times on Architectural Digest’s list of the 100 most influential architects and designers, and this exhibition showcases her talent in full measure.

One can trace Bonnard’s artistic development from his early depictions of Parisian street life, replete with rich, satirical observations as well as more intimate representations of the time he shared with his lifelong companion, Marthe Bonnard. His passion for landscape, nurtured by his friendship with painter Claude Monet, is also evident in this extensive collection, featuring loans from various esteemed institutions such as the Tate, London and MoMA, New York.

“This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to experience his work within a vivid scenography designed by India Mahdavi, one of the world’s leading designers working today. Both the artist and the designer are celebrated for their ingenious use of colour, which made them a natural and authentic pairing for this NGV-exclusive exhibition,” says NGV director, Tony Ellwood.

Related: Paper & Clay exhibition at Arthouse Gallery

Housed in the same location, NGV Kids: Up, Down and All Around: Daniel Emma for Kids is a similar celebration of design and creativity but much more interactive for those young at heart. This exhibition invites children to explore, imagine and create. Participants can engage with iconic Daniel Emma furniture and décor while immersing themselves in hands-on design challenges and multimedia experiences.

Highlights include the drawing-based activity Inspiration Train, wherein participants draw new designs inspired by food items conveyed around a sushi train-style installation, and Stack a Snack, a multimedia activity where kids design their own digital ‘cakes’ by replacing traditional ingredients with unexpected materials like green grass and red lava.

For toddlers, Funny Face Maker offers a hands-on activity where they can explore different feelings and facial expressions by arranging sparkly and colourful shapes. In contrast, the Build ‘Em Up activity encourages young minds to design and build new objects using upholstered geometric forms.

“This playful exhibition will introduce young minds to the world of design through kid-friendly design-based activities, concepts and ideas. It is rare for a children’s exhibition to focus on developing early design literacy, which makes this world-premiere exhibition a truly unique – and impactful – offering in the Australian cultural landscape,” says Ellwood.

Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi and Up, Down and All Around will run at NGV International until October 2023.

National Gallery of Victoria

India Mahdavi

Daniel Emma

Eugene Hyland, Lillie Thompson

We think you might also like this story on Hassell’s 2023 NGV Design Wall.

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