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For LDF, 20 Designers Made Masks Representing How They See Themselves, And the Results Are Hilarious

For this year’s London Design Festival, which kicked off this weekend, the Brompton Design District asked all of its participating exhibitions to consider a theme: Nature/Nurture. Having been invited to curate SEEDS gallery’s response to that theme, the design studio M-L-XL decided to focus on human nature, and one of its darkest facets in particular — the masks we put on in order to present an idealized version of ourselves to the world, especially in the image-obsessed age of social media. The resulting show, however, is one of the wittiest, most playful LDF presentations we’ve seen in awhile, with 20 designers representing their identities through handmade masks ranging from the beautiful to the hilariously grotesque, plus the objects they’ve chosen to exhibit alongside them. We’ve selected our favorites below, and shared text about each as excerpted from the show’s catalog.

Masters of Disguise is on view at SEEDS in London through October 15.Installation (1)Installation view MLXL Mask_2 MLXL ELLE Chair

M-L-XL

“Crayons Mask is an object of disguise — designed both to conceal a person’s identity as well as to mimic industrial modes of production through lo-fi technology. For this mask, a classic industrial process known as rotational molding was recreated using cheap, inexpensive materials and manual labor. Instead of a costly metal mold, the latter is made from paper, into which were poured melted crayons — objects associated with experimentation and play. After the crayons solidify, they reveal vibrant textures and patterns.”
Bertjan Pot Mask

Bertjan Pot

“Although seemingly masks tell stories, Bertjan’s started out as a material experiment. He wanted to find out if by stitching a rope together he could make a large flat carpet. Instead of being flat, the samples got curvy, not good for making carpets but perfect for shaping masks. After making Masks he also put Gloves into the repertoire. This is the first time a Mask and a Glove are united in one piece.”
Martino Gamper Mask

Martino Gamper

“Psychological, psychedelic, and at times just plain psychotic.”
Sabine Marcelis Mask Sabine Marcelis Wearing Mask (2)

Sabine Marcelis

“A lens to distort the observer and what is observed.”
Soft Baroque Mask Soft Baroque Armchair (2) Soft Baroque Bench Soft Baroque Vase Soft Baroque Wearing Mask

Soft Baroque

“Do you ever want to bury your face in the pillow for the entire day?”
Bethan Wood Mask Bethan Wood wearing Mask (2)

Bethan Laura Wood

“Exploring the language of the veil, often worn by women.”
Jochen Holz Mask Jochen Holz Chandelier (2) Jochen Holz Chandelier (4) Jochen Holz Chandelier (3)

Jochen Holz

“The mask is assembled from recycled glass parts, like wine glass stems and feet. Jochen has a very material-based practice focusing only on glassblowing, so it made sense to also make the mask from glass. Partly because this is ‘his’ material, but also because of the question he posed: ‘Do I also hide behind my material, skills, and technique?'”
Attua Aparicio Mask Attua Aparicio Plates (3)

Attua Apparicio

“The porcelain 3-D printed grid serves as a sieve for the glass to melt through the holes, forming unexpected clusters of solidified glass drops. The eyes and the smile are made of solid glass — clear, teal and glow in the dark — which works as a distorting lens for the grid.”
Fredrik Paulsen Fredrik Paulsen Wearing Mask

Fredrik Paulsen

“Fredrik’s private and (much beloved) crepe pan was re-purposed to function as a mask by cutting out eyes and mouth-like holes in it. By pouring in hot glass, the pan was also used as a tool, making a set of crepe-smileys for the gallery dinner.”
James Shaw Mask James Shaw Swivel Chair James Shaw Cutlery James Shaw table (2) James Shaw Table

James Shaw

“This is the first presentation of a new plant based bio-composite just developed for this show. The material is made using entirely plant-based ingredients. This iteration also experiments with finishing materials, combining traditional oil-painting techniques and materials with modern processes.”
Tiago almeida mask (2) Tiago Almeida Wearing Mask

Tiago Almeida

“Tiago likes the idea of a mask as a box where endless stories have been stored, even from before its own existence. Each of these stories are pulled out by the ones who connect with it and can be told or perceived in individual or collective ways. This is how he imagines his mask: a box, a container of histories, fantasies, dreams, and emotions on hold until someone will let them out. As its creator he can rule the way it looks, but not the way it will be perceived.”
Studio Furthermore Wearing Mask Studio Furthermore Stool Studio Furthermore Light (2)

Studio Furthermore

“Kipper sliced foam stretched over aluminium brow frame.”
Max Frommeld Mask Max Frommeld chair

Max Frommeld

“This mask is a personification of mundane construction materials collected from the construction site of his family’s new home. In fact, it is composed of his future ceiling and skirting. Home influences identity.”
Rio Kobayashi Wearing Mask Rio Kobayashi Shelf

Rio Kobayashi

“Rio wanted the mask to reflect his Japanese heritage as well as his European side, and also, he received so many impressions in his life that flow into his memory, his body, and his personality, and they are in there as well…”
Kim Thome Mask

Kim Thome

“This mask is made from 1.8 metres of continuous brass wire. The ‘line’ traces and highlights the features of the face as a suspended hand-drawn sketch.”
Lucia Massari Hand Held Mask Mirror Lucia Massari Venitian Mirror

Lucia Massari

“Testa is a hand mirror that plays the role of a mask, part of a series of arcimboldo-esque mirrors composed of swirls rosettes, flowers, and leaves — some of the most typical elements of craftwork on Venetian mirrors — in the place of beards, eyes, noses, and hair. The mask and the mirror are both typical Venetian artistic products; combining the two creates a new mask which maintains the decorative details of the antique Venetian mirrors while downplaying any seriousness with irony and levity. It reflects the contemporary extensive use and misuse of our own image. And how much we are deeply connected and intertwined with the image we project to others.”
Nathalie Du Pasquier Mask (2)

Nathalie Du Pasquier

“Me.”