The Future Perfect: A holistic approach to collectible design

March 30th, 2023
Written by:
Nikolai Kotlarczyk

The Future Perfect’s New York gallery space, located within St Luke’s Townhouse. Photo Credit: Sean Davidsen

Spread across three US locations; New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, The Future Perfect has forged a unique voice within the collectible design scene since its inception in 2003 – one that mixes the highly curatorial with an openness to new materials, expressions and typologies. Creatively led by gallery director Laura Young, their spaces reflect a well-rounded vision of how contemporary furniture, lighting and objects can shape and inspire our daily lives for the better.

The first thing you notice about The Future Perfect in relation to their peers within the world of collectible design, is the emphasis they place on spatial environments and the relationship of objects within these environments. Gone are the white walls of the traditional gallery space – rather than removing objects from their intended homes, The Future Perfect celebrates them as objects to be lived with and loved. From their St Luke’s Townhouse in New York, to the Goldwyn House in Los Angeles, and Pacific Heights Apartment in San Francisco, all of The Future Perfect’s locations aim to present their collections within spaces that are designed to be lived in. Bedrooms and living spaces lead to kitchens and dining rooms, mixing one-off and limited works with select contemporary brands – always balancing pieces that have their own unique voice, yet work collectively, as Young details;

As gallery director I curate each of our exhibitions and spaces while working closely with all of the artists and makers we represent to create a cohesive artistic voice for The Future Perfect… I look for uniqueness, things that fill gaps both physically and material-wise within our collection. In addition, I look for work that compliments our family of artists so that our presentations will remain harmonious and unique.

The Future Perfect’s gallery director Laura Young. Photo Credit: Eric Petschek
The work of Dutch ceramicist Floris Wubben within TFP’s New York space. Photo Credit: Douglas Friedman

Young juxtaposes materials and influences. Whimsical centrepieces such as Seungjin Yang’s epoxy resin chairs and Chris Wolston’s wicker creations are featured alongside more material focused pieces such as Dutch ceramicist Floris Wubben, or American glass artist John Hogan. Eclectic and diverse, each piece has been chosen due to its uniqueness – whether through craft, aesthetic expression or a combination of the two.

It is this combination of craft and visual storytelling that led Young to Danish artist Catherine Raben Davidsen – a long time collaborator of The Future Perfect. Perhaps known best for her ceramics practice, their collaboration placed the gallery on the radar of the Danish Arts Foundation, identifying The Future Perfect as a potential avenue to further highlight and expose Danish practitioners abroad. The result was the 2021 group exhibition Open and Closed; an exhibition focusing on the creation of bespoke boxes crafted from materials including ceramic, concrete, linen and viscose. For Young, this exhibition was a great opportunity to delve a little deeper into the landscape of Danish art and design.

Catherine Raben Davidsen’s work featured within Open and Closed. Photo Credit: John Daniel.
Iben Høj’s Sh(r)ine vessels. Photo Credit: John Daniel.

My approach to Danish design and art is similar to that of all artists in our program – we present and show work that we like and that compliments the other work shown in our spaces. With that in mind Open and Closed was a dream exhibition as the Danish Arts Foundation approached us and offered the resources to take a risk and try new things… The process was fun and inspiring, and as a curator that is the dream. We hope this leads to new relationships with Danish artists into the future.

The Water Tower by Stine Mikkelsen, presented as a part of the group exhibition Open and Closed. Photo Credit: John Daniel.

Within a single exhibition, Open and Closed encapsulated Young’s curatorial ability to combine and elevate different materials and finishes. The light, ephemeral qualities of Iben Høj‘s knitted and woven containers appear to levitate when placed beside Pettersen & Hein’s rough and raw concrete creations. The golden shine of Ida Elke Kallehave’s glazed ceramics are jewel-like when viewed alongside the earthy, hand-worked forms of Stine Mikkelsen. It is this juxtaposition than has allowed The Future Perfect to be so wide reaching within its search of art and design around the globe, with no material and technique off limits. Combined with the eye of Young – and the creative team beside her, this seemingly at-odds approach of combination and collaboration allows the gallery to constantly evolve and grow.

Upcoming exhibitions in 2023 include a deep dive into contemporary Korean design alongside the work of Italian master Gaetano Pesce and a new body of work from Chris Wolston. Each exhibition and object is provided pride of place – individually celebrated yet chosen as part of a larger picture. A picture that champions materials, craft and a love for the diversity that shapes collectible design today.

Chris Wolston’s Nalgona chair featured in The Future Perfect’s Goldwyn House. Photo Credit: Rich Stapleton.