David Adjaye Explores the Dualities of Bronze

At Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s new London outpost, a series of cast bronze pieces by the Ghanaian-British architect reveals two sides of one of his most favored materials.

David Adjaye. All images courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

“My work is always about an idea, a material, and about exploration,” David Adjaye says. “It’s about pushing craft forward.” Anyone who has visited the Ghanaian-British architect’s masterful buildings—from The Webster’s grapefruit-hued L.A. flagship to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which he sheathed in lacelike brown panels—can attest. But that notion also applies to smaller-scale objects, specifically the new Yaawa bronze furnishings that expand on his Monoform series and are inaugurating Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s new flagship in London’s historic Ladbroke Hall.

The collection—named after the word for “bronze” in Twi, one of the Indigenous Ghanaian languages—comprises eight limited-edition objects that showcase Adjaye’s new experiments with a material often found in his buildings. “Yaawa is an exploration into the nature of bronze,” he says. “Normally affiliated with artisanal craft or weaponry, I see bronze as a noble material that has a deep lineage and history in Africa.” Each piece features ellipses and rounded edges, from the domestic-sized dining table and low triangular occasional tables to the fluid dining chair and elongated banquet table. They’re marked by a duality in surface finish—smooth and polished on top, but with a textured underside of thick, gestural fingerprints that imbue an element of discovery. Depending on the angle, they can look svelte and lustrous or sturdy and rough to the touch.

The pieces debut today at Ladbroke Hall. Adjaye Associates assisted Carpenters Workshop Gallery founders Julien Lombrail and Loic le Gaillard with the three-year-long renovation, which brought the Beaux Arts building back to its origins as a showpiece for craft. (Completed in 1903, the Notting Hill landmark was once a giant Edwardian car showroom and assembly plant.) Now it’s a hotbed for a more contemporary type of artisanship. A solo show dedicated to the late Brazilian designer Jose Zanine Caldas accompanies Yaawa, as do new spaces by designers on the gallery’s roster: a restaurant and boardroom by Vincenzo de Cotiis, a secret garden by Luciano Giubbilei, and a tequila bar by Michéle Lamy and Rick Owens.

Yaawa T1
Yaawa T6
Yaawa T6
Yaawa C1

“David Adjaye: Yaawa” will be on display at Carpenters Workshop Gallery (79 Barlby Road, London) until June 10. 

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