A chair and you
28.10.2022 – 05.02.2023

Exhibitions

The mudac is honoured to host the largest private collection of artist, designer and architect chairs in the world. This collection, initiated in the 1990s, is full of original seating designs and its owner, Thierry Barbier-Mueller, has taken the step of presenting it to the public after more than 20 years of confidential passion.

The variations and tempos have captivated Thierry Barbier-Mueller’s attention for this evident and necessary functional object. Faced with such a rich and diversified corpus, and in order to give each chair its own specificity, famous American director Robert Wilson was asked to design immersive and exceptional scenography, borrowed from the repertoire of performing arts. Through him, the mudac exhibition reads like an immense opera in several scenes. The semantic vocabulary shifts, the producer in the person of the collector makes the corpus available, and the director makes a selection and directs the actors/chairs in stage sets and atmospheres where sound and light amplify the dramaturgy of the narrative. mudac thus gets to offer a brand-new piece of theatre with its first major exhibition on its 1500 m2 stage, in the heart of the Plateforme 10 arts district.

A chair and you presents this object in four acts in scenic situations that reveal the history of design from the 1970s to the present day.

Curators
mudac :
Chantal Prod’Hom
Susanne Hilpert Stuber

Thierry Barbier-Mueller Collection :
Thierry Barbier-Mueller
Charlotte Savolainen-Mailler

Scenography
Robert Wilson
Annick Lavallée-Benny

Coordination
Magali Conus

Scenography by Robert Wilson

To underline the sculptural character of the elements of the Thierry Barbier-Mueller collection, the great American director and artist Robert Wilson was entrusted with the scenography. This exceptional scenography plunges the public into immersive worlds where the chairs are treated as the protagonists of a performing arts show. Sound, light and sets provide a unique way to discover the iconic design object that is the chair and its many variations.

The Thierry Barbier-Mueller Collection

In the 1990s, Thierry Barbier-Mueller was fascinated by the creativity, freshness and tremendous explosion of spontaneity of designers such as Ron Arad, Tom Dixon and André Dubreuil. His acquisitions grew spontaneously as he met and discovered new designers until they became a fully-fledged collection of more than six hundred chairs from the 1960s to the present day. The collection includes works by international designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Pol Quadens, Shiro Kuramata and Maarten Baas, as well as visual artists such as Donald Judd, Niki de Saint Phalle, Lawrence Weiner and Franz West.
Consisting of about two-thirds unique pieces, prototypes or works from small, limited editions, the collection reflects this interest in atypical objects, outside the usual niches of industrial design. Barbier-Mueller is above all fascinated in the object itself, its uniqueness and plasticity, the humour it evokes or its materiality.