Matylda Krzykowski


We’re joined by this belief that design shapes the way we live, that it’s the reason we walk through doors and corridors with purpose. matylda krzykowski

Polish-born designer, artist, and curator Matylda Krzykowski doesn’t believe in trends. “They don’t exist for me, they mean nothing. Quote me on that,” she deadpans. Her latest curatorial exhibition, “Just What Is It,” currently on view at New York’s Chamber gallery, perfectly illustrates her indifference to fleeting fashion, as the 39 design and art objects she’s selected are based on their political bent and clever eccentricity. “It’s a show of radical thoughts, aesthetics, color, and the idea of design as a way to communicate,” Krzykowski says. Taking the show’s title from British pop artist Richard Hamilton’s 1956 collage, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, the 34-year-old curator is trying to conceptualize our current relationship to consumerism through these art and design works, a few specially commissioned, by 14 of today’s working artists. “I was always impressed by how Hamilton’s images weren’t just a parody or mimicry of the times,” Krzykowski says, “but a sociological report. I’d like people to look back at this exhibition and think, ‘Wow, that captured a seminal moment in time,’ like they do with Hamilton’s collage.”

Among the more recondite pieces are a two-headed lamp installation by the Vienna-based design studio mischer’traxler and photography by Swiss artist Cyril Porchet. Other works include printed merino wool blankets by Design Displacement Group and paintings by Niek Hendrix. The oddities have been chosen for their ability to encourage discussion and political debate, and testify to Krzykowski’s belief that “society is built by design.” She’s even got a pink leather day bed to prove it. “It’s by Berlin design group New Tendency and sleeps three,” she explains. “Very minimal. It’s important to me that design creates communication.”

This socially conscious approach is what has given Depot Basel, the design organization Krzykowski co-founded in Basel, Switzerland, a cult status as the new center of avant-garde design theory. Since launching in 2011, they’ve made their name through collaborations with the likes of Germany’s Vitra Design Museum and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. “We’re joined by this belief that design shapes the way we live,” she says, “that it’s the reason we walk through doors and corridors with purpose.” “Just What Is It” offers a chance to practice this metaphysical approach to design. After all, it’s Krzykowski’s fundamental belief that “good design products help us understand why we move through the world the way we do.”