Jonathan Muecke’s “Mass” (above) is a hollow volcano-shaped vessel made of paper coated in heavy coal slag. While you could theoretically store objects inside it, Muecke prefers that you experience it as a black hole in your living room, sucking in light and space. Similarly, his wedge of polystyrene lined with reflective glass particles could be employed as a room divider but functions mostly as a six-foot optical illusion. This is the mystery of Muecke’s work, which makes its domestic debut this spring at Chicago’s Volume Gallery, a launchpad for new American design talent: It pretends to be utilitarian yet has that ineffable quality usually reserved for Minimalist art—or the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. “These aren’t products,” notes the 27-year-old Muecke, who studied architecture and interned with Herzog & de Meuron before opening his own studio in Minneapolis late last year. “There’s something about them that makes perfect sense and something about them that doesn’t make any sense at all” (at Volume Gallery April 30 to May 15; wvvolumes.com).
Photo courtesy of the designers