Special exhibition




The GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts has the pleasure of exhibiting one of the world's largest private collections of chairs by artists, designers and architects. Since the late 1990s, Thierry Barbier-Mueller has brought together countless innovative and unusual chair objects whose quality goes far beyond the usual typology of chairs.

To emphasise the sculptural character of the objects, the scenographic design of the exhibition was entrusted to the renowned American director and artist Robert Wilson. In an extraordinary production, he immerses the visitors in immersive worlds in which the chairs become the protagonists of a theatre performance. Sound, light and scenery create a very special atmosphere in which the iconic design object chair and its numerous variations can be discovered in an unusual way.

A CHAIR AND YOU confronts visitors with an opera in four acts and just as many stage worlds - with a scenography in which the history of art and design from the 1960s to the present day is told between the lines on the basis of Thierry Barbier-Mueller's unique collection.

The Thierry Barbier-Mueller Collection

In the 1990s, Thierry Barbier-Mueller was fascinated by the creativity, freshness and great spontaneity of designers such as Ron Arad or Tom Dixon. Through spontaneous discoveries and encounters, he constantly acquired new objects, until finally a collection of more than 650 chairs from the 1960s to the present day was created. It includes works by international designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Ron Arad, Martino Gamper and Maarten Baas as well as visual artists such as Donald Judd, Niki de Saint Phalle, Lawrence Weiner and Franz West.

The collection, about two-thirds of which consists of individual pieces, prototypes or works from small, limited editions, reflects this interest in atypical objects outside the usual niches of industrial design. It is above all the object itself that has captivated him, its uniqueness, its plasticity, the humour it reveals, or its materiality.

A co-production by mudac - Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts, Lausanne and Fondation Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva adapted for the GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts

Curated by:
Chantal Prod’Hom und Charlotte Savolainen-Mailler

Exhibition Structure und Design:
Robert Wilson

Annick Lavallée-Benny

Lightning Design: Marcello Lumaca

Sound Design: Dario Felli

Personal Assistant to Robert Wilson: Liam Krumstroh

Project coordination: Miriam Heckhoff