Dries Van Noten hosts ikebana-themed exhibition in his LA ‘Little House’

Curator Alexander May of Sized Selects tells Wallpaper* about the group exhibition at Dries Van Noten’s Los Angeles space – an exploration of ‘arrangement and placement’

Dries Van Noten Ikebana Bond exhibition Los Angeles
‘Bond’ at Dries Van Noten ‘The Little House’, Los Angeles
(Image credit: Courtesy of Dries Van Noten)
Dries Van Noten’s Los Angeles outpost – found on the city’s La Cienega Boulevard and the largest of all the Belgian designer’s stores – is split in half. Divided by a parking lot, on one side is ‘The Big House’, the store’s retail space that houses the brand’s men’s and women’s collections; on the other, ‘The Little House’, a 1950s-era bungalow made to host artists, designers and craftspeople that Van Noten wants to spotlight. He has previously called it a ‘creative lab’.

Spring 2023 sees the arrival of a new exhibition at The Little House, which cedes control to Alexander May, a multihyphenate creative director and curator who runs LA-based creative agency Sized. May has gathered a series of emerging and established artists for the exhibition, titled ‘Bond’ (29 April – 10 June 2023), which he says is in part a continuation of Sized Selects, a monthly curation of artworks, design objects and furniture from around the world for enthusiasts and collectors to purchase. Speaking to Wallpaper*, May describes a desire to be ‘both hyper-local and hyper-global’ with Sized Selects, calling it ‘a way to engage with our collectors as well as our community’.

‘Bond’ by Sized Selects at Dries Van Noten’s The Little House

Inside of Dries Van Noten LA exhibition with design objects

(Image credit: Courtesy of Dries Van Noten)

May was invited to take part in the project by Jenny Le, Dries Van Noten’s retail director, who has been instrumental in establishing The Little House concept. Previously, it has hosted a surrealist tablescape from Nadia and Laila Gohar’s Gohar World, an exhibition of Peter Shire’s artworks titled ‘In A Hollywood Bungalow’, and a series of Misha Kahn’s colourful, bulbous sculptures in an installation titled ‘Watermelon Party’. ‘I was very excited, as I’ve always admired the brand,’ says May. ’I first felt really connected to Dries when I lived right around the corner from its men’s boutique in Paris. I always found the interiors to be incredibly inspiring and layered.’

May, who selected an array of international artists and designers for the exhibition, was looking for works that would interplay with the space; in part inspired by the Japanese art of ikebana, he says that ‘Bond’ explores the ‘tradition of arrangement and the art of placement’. ‘The curation for “Bond” was inspired by how we arrange objects, and the ways in which they live in various environments,’ says May.

‘The tactile connections the materials make when they are placed in conversation with each other has always inspired me,’ he continues. ‘And, of course, the art of ikebana has a particular adjacency to the art of arrangement. The collaborators were chosen to represent the diversity in a collection that I felt would complement the Dries Van Noten aesthetic.’ May painted much of The Little House space black to ‘neutralise’ the interior architecture – ‘very much like a black-box theatre, I consider the colour to be an incredible backdrop for things to evolve and connect’, he says – and placed the objects around the various rooms in carefully considered displays (‘the harmony in placement’, as May describes).

Inside of Dries Van Noten LA exhibition with design objects

The Little House space

(Image credit: Courtesy of Dries Van Noten)

The various works on display include those by Sophia Moreno-Bunge, Aso Rando and Dana Arbib, among others, and span vases, vessels, sculptures and images. Several of the works provide an interplay between the artificial and the natural – perhaps epitomised by Morengo-Bunge’s ceramic vessels on which vast palm fronds are balanced. ‘This positioning supports the questioning of form and function, which is something that I think about a lot,’ says May.

‘Each work in “Bond” has a unique energy, but specifically I’m very excited about the opportunity to bring the work of Rando Aso to the United States for the first time,’ he continues, noting that the various pieces will be available for purchase on the Sized Selects website. ‘I’m really inspired by the texture and the materiality of his incredible Raku forms, which are unglazed and painted in fire and smoke.’

‘Bond’ runs at Dries Van Noten’s The Little House in Los Angeles until 10 June 2023.

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