Origins: Design from the Ancient World

For Design Miami/Basel

June 2018


A collaboration between curator Oscar Humphries and Paris’ Galerie Chenel, ’Origins: Design from the Ancient World’ was a display of architectural remains from Roman times. The collection marked the debut of Roman-era pieces at Design Miami/Basel, and focused on Greco-Roman artefacts, design and architectural elements from 200 BC to approximately 200 AD, including columns, capitals, urns, and fragmentary sections from interiors and furniture. ‘All of the sculptures are definitely carrying with them the passage of time,’ antiquarian and gallerist Ollivier Chenel stated. 

The project ‘was conceived to bring this material to a new audience and to give it a new context that demonstrates the fundamental synergy of great design from any period, as well as its profound differences,’ Humphries explains. The materials bring to mind contemporary design movements, from postmodern to Art Deco, their white marble almost minimalist in its appearance. ‘Each great architectural movement and its protagonists nod to some degree to Rome and Athens, from Ettore Sottsass to Andrea Palladio,’ added Humphries. ‘It is remarkable that these objects survived the ravages of time, making their aesthetic and philosophical gravitas all the more powerful.’