JONATHAN MUECKE: Jonathan Muecke’s “Mass” 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).
BCXSY: Boaz Cohen, 33, and Sayaka Yamamoto, 27, may hail from two very different worlds—Cohen from outside Tel Aviv, Yamamoto from a small village near Osaka—but as BCXSY they’ve found a unique way of bridging the cultural gap. With their home base an abandoned elementary school in Eindhoven, the Netherlands city where they met as design students in 2006, the couple have spent the past year and a half traveling the globe in search of indigenous crafts to study and then subvert. In Tokyo, for instance, they collaborated with a local woodworker to reinterpret the traditional Japanese screen; their version is rendered in pale hinoki cypress wood. This spring in Milan the pair unveiled their newest project: a series of graphic carpets woven by Bedouin women in Israel. “By showing people how traditional crafts can be expressed in a contemporary way,” says Cohen, “we’re trying to make it a little easier for them to appreciate the things that really last” (bcxsy.com).