International 12–17 Apr 2016 Free

A Search Behind Appearances is a unique collaboration between designer Hella Jongerius and theorist Louise Schouwenberg for la Rinascente department store in Milan. Commissioned by the Serpentine Galleries.

For the third year of an ongoing collaboration at Salone Del Mobile – Milan’s celebrated annual design festival – Serpentine Galleries and la Rinascente have commissioned celebrated designer Jongerius and theorist Schouwenberg to create a special installation for the store’s eight front windows.

A Search Behind Appearances reflects on the state of affairs in design and prompts a consideration of the meanings that hide behind appearances. It does so through a sophisticated shadow play. Ingeniously animated and automated small-scale machines assemble and disassemble iconic objects.

Presented at the Salone del Mobile, Jongerius and Schouwenberg’s 2015 manifesto Beyond the New addressed the deceptive world of empty spectacle and commercial verbiage in design, and made a plea for a renewed idealistic agenda. In 2016 Jongerius and Schouwenberg move beyond criticism and celebrate foremost the innate potential of design. The imaginative shadows, the intricate fabrics and their interplay, evoke questions and offer means for ‘reading’ a design’s true value.

Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg said:

“Any deserving design is a meaningful node in a branching web of relationships. What is the larger context and narrative in which a design gains validity? Which ideals and references can be detected behind appearances? The concept of cultural innovation requires new criteria.”

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Galleries said:

“The Serpentine continually explores how to present art, architecture and design in new ways. Our collaboration with la Rinascente is in its third year and A Search Behind Appearances represents a unique opportunity to temporarily transform la Rinascente into an extension of our Galleries. We are delighted that Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg accepted this commission and have created this extraordinary work.”

Alberto Baldan, CEO of la Rinascente, said:

“la Rinascente is extremely happy to announce its collaboration with the Serpentine for a third year running, transforming the shop’s entrance and iconic windows on Piazza Duomo into a replica of London’s famous Galleries. We do not see this as a gamble but instead an opportunity for self-reflection and inspiration both for us and anyone who wants to come and admire our windows. This year Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg encourage us to meditate on the world of design in all its forms; dismantling and leaving them bare for all to see. Showing us the complex world that lies beneath the surface of every object that will invade our city during the Design Week.”

A Search Behind Appearances follows 2015’s Pasted, a preview exhibition devised by design curator Libby Sellers to celebrate the launch of the Serpentine Galleries Wallpaper Collection by artists, architects and designers including John Baldessari, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Rosemarie Trockel, Lawrence Weiner and Ai Weiwei, as well as architects SANAA and Toyo Ito.


Discover over 50 years of the Serpentine

From the architectural Pavilion and digital commissions to the ideas Marathons and research-led initiatives, explore our past projects and exhibitions.

View archive