Tableau exhibit sheds light on men’s mental health
Despite the growing public awareness of mental health in recent years, many men still suffer in silence – it’s an issue that multidisciplinary design studio Tableau has squarely tackled in a new exhibition, ‘Confessions’, which has made its debut during Milan Design Week 2022 and will travel to the studio’s hometown of Copenhagen for 3 Days of Design (June 15 – 17, 2022).
As Julius Værnes Iversen, Tableau’s creative director, explains, the aim of the exhibition is to create “an open-minded space”. He invited 14 male participants to express their anxieties through commissioned pieces: “All artists, designers and architects were asked to create a piece that shows vulnerability, something they struggled with or something they thought about thinking about their own mental health.’
Exhibition view of ‘Confessions’ by Tableau and Post Service at Milan Design Week 2022, featuring ‘Barcelona Silver Bed’, by Paul Cournet, ‘Wrap Yourself in Love’ mirror, by Laurids Gallée, and ‘Morphed State’ vessels ‘, by Alexander Kirkeby. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio
The daybed – a piece of furniture reminiscent of a psychotherapist’s office – was the starting point for Rotterdam architect Paul Cournet, who presents a reinterpretation of Mies van der Rohe’s “Barcelona” daybed from 1930.
His version uses a second-hand frame—its original horizontal straps replaced with silver straps (courtesy of Dutch manufacturer Ecco Leather)—supporting a mattress and headrest, both filled with ball foam. recycled tennis under a silver coating made from waste from the metallurgical industry. It’s a piece that encourages the visitor to lie down and release their inhibitions, says Iversen.
View of the ‘Confessions’ exhibition by Tableau and Post Service at Milan Design Week 2022, with the ‘Wrap Yourself in Love’ mirror, by Laurids Gallée. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio
Nearby, a mirror by Austrian designer Laurids Gallée, depicting a monkey clinging to a blanket (like a matador with his cape), has a similar silver sheen. Closer inspection reveals it’s made from chrome resin – Gallée applied the resin drop by drop in small dabs to create the desired pattern, which was inspired by his reflection of not being very good at receiving the help of others.
Cars, often associated with masculinity, are unsurprisingly the subject of multiple confessions: struck by the way many men buy muscle cars to hide their insecurities, Copenhagen artist Jacob Egeberg has imagined a chandelier that looks like car parts crumpled into the shape of a human heart, with the sharp glare of headlights softened into a soft pulsating glow – a reminder to measure one’s worth by emotional capacity rather than material possessions. Despite its industrial appearance, “Fast as Lightning” (as it’s titled) was actually hand-sculpted out of polystyrene, to create a precise shape that couldn’t be achieved by CNC cutting.
View of the ‘Confessions’ exhibition by Tableau and Post Service at Milan Design Week 2022, with, from left to right, Throne of Fragility, by Kim Lenschow; mirror ‘:S’, by Lab La Bla; Mirror ‘WASDWASDWAS (can’t you see you’re going in circles)’, The Beaumains bladeand the ‘Armoire of the Oak and the Reeds’ cabinet, all by Esben Kaldahl, and the ‘Spinebender_x_fatigue’ bench, by Kevin Josias. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio
The word “car” is also written in red on the seat of an exercise bench by fellow Copenhagener Kevin Josias, titled “Spinebender_x_fatigue”. Clad in printed leather that mimics snakeskin, the bench is a critique of gym culture as a fetish: “It feels like going to the gym is like stepping into sex. club, because it gives him the same social anxiety,” says Iversen.
The use of text is even more poignant in Dutch designer Willem van Hooff’s ceramic vessel, on which he scribbled the words ‘I haven’t done enough’. It’s an eye-catching and heartbreaking piece that nonetheless offered its creator a sense of catharsis. “Why, as human beings, do we doubt ourselves? Why is it never good enough? […] As a creator, I hear that voice when a creation is finished, when people can critique my work,” van Hooff recalls. “For me, this trophy is a celebration of when I accepted that little demon in the back of my head.”
Detail of the ship ‘I haven’t done enough’, part of ‘Confessions’ by Tableau and Post Service. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio
The same festive spirit is present in the chaise longue by Belgian designer Arnaud Eubelen. Eubelen creates his work exclusively from reclaimed materials, and this contribution to “Confessions” is no exception: the combination of the metal frame, the corrugated plastic seat, the wooden armrest and the headrest padded, all salvaged from a dump outside Brussels, suggests the possibility of salvage and repair; and visitors to the exhibition are invited to sit down and put on the accompanying headphones, which play a transporting electronic soundtrack, composed in collaboration with musician Cédric Elisabeth.
View of the ‘Confessions’ exhibition by Tableau and Post Service at Milan Design Week 2022, with the ‘After’ chair, by Arnaud Eubelen. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio
Elisabeth also created the background music for the exhibition, imbuing the visually dynamic space with tranquility and calm.
‘Confessions’ responds magnificently to its exhibition spaces. The Milan debut took place at Alcova – a former military hospital, while the Copenhagen iteration will take place at Post Service, a clinic dedicated to mental health, bereavement and mindfulness (whose decor Tableau did interior in 2021).
View of Tableau and Post Service’s ‘Confessions’ exhibition at Milan Design Week 2022, featuring Boris Peianov’s ‘Safe Space’ shelving system. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio
In its confrontation with toxic masculinity, ‘Confessions’ echoes Tableau’s origins in the world of floral design, which has long been considered an exclusively female domain and therefore not given the same value as other artistic expressions.
The exhibit is an important instrument for changing hearts and minds, and ultimately, Iversen hopes it can also foster more inclusive attitudes towards LGBTQ communities and other minorities. §
View of the ‘Confessions’ exhibition by Tableau and Post Service at Milan Design Week 2022, with the ‘Vice Caché’ cabinet, by Arnaud Eubelen. Photography: Piercarlo Quecchia and DSL Studio