Cultured Magazine

Fall 2014

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70 CULTURED PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEVEN VOLPE DESIGN; DAVID LIVINGSTON (DINING ROOM) THE MAVERICK At left, a private residence in San Francisco features a Surfboard coffee table by Hun-Chung Lee; above, a dining room for a client in Northern California features an illuminated sculpture by Jeff Zimmerman above a custom dining table. What some may consider sacrilege, interior designer Steven Volpe calls deccuration; that's the title of the show he's presenting at New York's R & Company this September. "(Dec)curation," is a playful take on curated decoration and a jab at that oh so ubiquitous word. "We're taking pieces that the gallery normally shows in their raw state and putting them through our filter," explains Volpe, the San Francisco-based founder of his eponymous design firm and the art and design gallery, Hedge. "Our weavers are creating fabrics to reupholster historical pieces. We're taking tables and popping the glass out, archiving it and putting something new in its place." It's not often that R & Company hands over its floor to a guest curator (it's only happened five times in 17 years). But Volpe, who has been buying from the gallery for the last decade, caught the eye of gallery co-founders Zesty Meyers and Evan Snyderman at the FOG Design + Art fair in January, and plans quickly began to take shape. "There's depth to his interiors that's rarely seen," notes Snyderman. "Immediately there's a sense of someone who has been collecting for decades." It was one of Volpe's residential projects, a loft he's been working on for the last three years for a San Francisco couple, that was the seed for "(dec)curation." "They're really inspired people who let me do pretty groundbreaking things, and that's what I'm translating into the gallery," Volpe says. "It's about demystifying how to live with important pieces of design." Of course, it's only possible to demystify once you have a deep understanding of history and context. According to Snyderman, connoisseurship is something Volpe has in spades. "As a collector himself, Steven knows and appreciates the history of an object and enjoys sharing that story with his clients," he says. "His deep knowledge of and ability to combine art and design helps elevate his interiors beyond the well- decorated space to a more curated collection." Among the 30 pieces in the exhibition, which features furniture, lighting and large accessories, standouts include a Carlo Hauner & Martin Eisler lounge chair in hair-on hyde that's been dyed a cerulean blue and a Joaquim Tenreiro dining table updated with a glass top painted citron yellow. As a collector of contemporary works himself (including Richard Misrach, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mel Bochner, Wolfgang Tillmans, Sterling Ruby and Jack Pierson), Volpe also emphasizes the importance of art in the show, including about 15 pieces of glasswork by Jeff Zimmerman, which will be scattered over the walls and ceiling of the gallery. "I think people will be surprised. It's kinda cool to be able to look at these historical pieces in a new light." One that's tinted citron yellow, please. In a new show at R & Company, Steven Volpe thoughtfully dismisses design rules to shed a new light on historical works. BY TALI JAFFE

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