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Valérie Maltaverne: The World of Isamu Noguchi

Apr 12, 2019

Director of YMER&MALTA, Valérie Maltaverne, speaks to TLmag about her role as curator for their exhibition that is currently on show in the Noguchi Museum.

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The Noguchi Museum currently shows two exhibitions devoted to the iconic Akari light sculptures. Both, ‘Akari: Sculpture by Other Means’ and ‘Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA’, present immersive installations that explore different material, aesthetic and technical aspects of Isamu Noguchi’s iconic designs. Valérie Maltaverne -Director at YMER&MALTA– curated the latter and speaks to TLmag about her experience and discoveries.

TLmag: YMER&MALTA was asked to create an exhibition in reaction to ‘Akari: Sculpture by Other Means’. How did you approach this exhibition?

Valérie Maltaverne: Having seen the previous collections by YMER&MALTA, Dakin Hart -senior curator of The Noguchi Museum- was interested in the dialogue established with the designers, artisans and me within the studio. Also, he was fascinated with the way our working process allows complete control of the result, which lays in between design, art, and craftsmanship.

When Dakin approached me to create this collection, I tried to put myself in the place of Isamu Noguchi himself, and what he would design if he had access to today’s technology and materials. Having this as a guideline, we started from the pillars of the Akari series, to push the alchemy of his sculptures into the future. This means being capable of being the soul of the room it occupies, having an architectural and sculptural character, and bringing the natural light to the interior. We have then developed innovative techniques and materials for each piece.

The exhibition presents 26 lamps, created by five designers from YMER&MALTA. They explored the essential values of Akari and how Noguchi might work with new materials and processes. Can you elaborate on the process of investigation and what your team explored?

 All the pieces were designed in a collaboration between each of the five designers and me. This process took about a year of intense dialogues until achieving the perfect design. YMER&MALTA is known for its excellence in pushing the artisans into developing new techniques and materials and reinventing production processes, as well as valuing the different French savoir-faire. As an example: for the Belle de Jour pieces, we have decided to work with linen, as the French equivalent of the bamboo used by Isamu Noguchi. To achieve the desired translucent aspect and rigidity for the sheets, we have combined the tissue with resin, creating a special composite. As another example, for the Galets we have developed a completely new technique in resin and sand 100% made in our workshop to be able to have each piece without joints.

Can you talk further about the surprising results of the experiment?

The most interesting story is the creation of the ‘Belle de Nuit’. During the prototyping process of the ‘Belle de Jour’, we have made small 3D printed models to work on the proportions. When Océane arrived at YMER&MALTA with the models I fell in love with the scale and decided we had to develop a smaller sister for the Belle de Jour in porcelain bisque.

What will visitors discover when visiting both ‘Akari: Sculpture by Other Means’ and ‘Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA’?

Both exhibitions are filled with Noguchi’s initial principles. The visitor can feel the poetry, the architectural and sculptural character, the nature inspiration and the innovation aspect of each creation.

The exhibitions originally extended through May 5, 2019, but will remain on view through April 14, 2019.

edaLight YMER&MALTA / Benjamin Graindorge 3 pieces Paper, metal, concrete, LED
Belle de Nuit YMER&MALTA / Océane Delain 6 pieces Resin, linen, metal, LED
Poise YMER&MALTA / Sebastian Bergne 4 pieces Paper, metal, LED
Belle de Nuit YMER&MALTA / Océane Delain 6 pieces Resin, linen, metal, LED
Light Fragments YMER&MALTA / nendo 5 pieces Acrylic, metal, LED

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