Get Good Vibes Only From this Show of Grandma-Inspired Lamps and Balloon-Like Chairs

Sister-Sister, Léa Mestres‘s new show at the Paris gallery Scene Ouverte, is a highly photogenic pairing of two sides of the up-and-coming French designer’s practice. One the one hand, there are her puffy, balloon-like chairs, benches, and tables, previously made from aluminum and now rendered in a mix of several different materials by French and Italian craftspeople. On the other hand, there are the colorful lamps that Mestres makes by hand in her studio from painted stucco, which helped name the exhibition. “I see them as old ladies,” she says. “They each have a names and personality. That’s why I called the show ‘sisters sisters’ — it’s an old ladies’ gang.”

In fact, the show captures quite a few of the Eindhoven grad’s disparate — and charming — inspirations. In her mind, her lamps each reference an actual external person, whether real or fictional, from friends’ grandparents to characters in movies or comics. She also says she’s been generally influenced by designers like Wendell Castle, Maarten Baas, and Chris Schank, but also Looney Tunes, Wallace and Gromit, Kenzo Takada, and Jacques Tati. The biggest through-line, says her gallery — where the show is on view through January 22 — is the works’ aura of cheerful optimism, a welcome energy in these times.
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