Gallery Fumi Makes a Sterling Entrance in Los Angeles

The British collectible design mainstay lands stateside with an array of audacious pieces that blend the beautiful, provocative, refined, and offbeat.

All photography by Stephane Aboudaram, courtesy of Gallery Fumi and Sized Studio

Even though Gallery Fumi has long been a regular on the international fair circuit, the British stronghold of collectible design was itching to shake things up. The gallery had never committed to presenting a major exhibition in the United States, but that quickly changed when founders Sam Pratt and Valerio Capo visited Sized Studio, the burgeoning hub of art and design in the heart of Melrose Hill. “We first learned about the space approximately a year and half ago while visiting our clients,” Pratt and Capo tell Surface. “Upon visiting, we immediately recognized its potential as a venue.” They found affinities not only between Gallery Fumi’s repertoire of bold-faced talents and California’s growing collectible design market, but the community that Sized founder Alexander May was cultivating through partnerships with HypeArt, Clarke & Reilly, and Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Plus, blue-chip galleries like David Zwirner were recognizing the area’s potential. Pratt and Capo were eager to get involved.

That led to Gallery Fumi unveiling its inaugural stateside exhibition at Sized earlier this month. This six-week-long showcase features a fresh collection of standout pieces that capture the blend of beautiful, provocative, refined, and offbeat that has cemented Fumi’s fruitful outings at marquee fairs like Design Miami and Salon Art+Design, but scaled up. “The attraction of L.A. lies in its undiscovered potential,” they say. There’s no shortage of compelling pieces on display, but the magic lies in the dialogues that ensue when they share space. The Spanish artist Saelia Aparicio’s powerful Esfinge Absorta room divider, shaped like a curled-up woman, assumes monumental form when placed next to petite plywood tables in the same language. Ditto for ceramic artist Jeremy Anderson’s large chandelier installation that beckons a closer look at his like-minded lamps and playful Piccolo vases

There’s also British duo JAMESPLUMB, who managed to create an intricate light sculpture, one of their most ambitious pieces yet, despite troubling circumstances back home. “Their workshop in Wales was flooded over Christmas,” Pratt and Capo tell Surface about their new home base in Llanfair Waterdine after relocating from London after 23 years. “They’ve managed against all odds to complete this work, the Copper Roots Chandelier, in the most difficult situation.” An electrified successor of the duo’s Steel Roots Chandelier, it retains the ambiance of a candlelit fixture while “introducing ingenious new elements,” Pratt and Capo say. “It’s truly stunning.” 

The show also marks the West Coast debut of Max Lamb, the British polymath who presented a series of one-of-a-kind cardboard seating, furniture, and accessory pieces at Fumi’s London gallery in October. To create them, he repurposed everyday delivery boxes littering his studio by layering shapes of brown paper and securing them with bolts, screws, and paper gum tape, breathing new life into a material often discarded as secondary. Each box brings its own materials and dimensions, so it’s impossible to predict what he’ll create next. An entirely new assortment—four tables, a console, 13 chairs, and a vessel—will arrive at Sized this weekend. 

Once the show wraps up, Pratt and Capo will take things slowly. Plans to establish a permanent presence in the United States are off the table for now, but they’re always open to exploring new avenues in Fumi’s distinct style. “Our growth has been a steady, organic progression, never rushed,” they say. “Our hope is that the exhibition effectively communicates what we stand for: rich materials, intricate textures, and exceptional handmade craftsmanship.” 

“FUMI LA” will be on view at Sized Studio (526 N Western Ave, Los Angeles) until March 9.

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