Diller Scofidio + Renfro Designs Pierre Chareau Retrospective at the Jewish Museum in New York

Chareau’s furnishings, such as a daybed, side tables, chairs, and lighting, are displayed in vignettes throughout the exhibition. Photograph by Will Ragozzino / SocialShutterbug.com

More Photos

“Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” a new exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York, examines the legacy of the avant-garde French architect and designer Pierre Chareau (1883– 1950), renowned for his seminal work the Maison de Verre—an iconic Paris landmark built in 1932. Delivering the first U.S. retrospective devoted solely to Chareau, the exhibition was designed by New York–based Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), exploiting various forms of technology—including virtual reality, video projections, and digital installations—to render an atmospheric context for its comprehensive narrative.

Organized by guest curator Esther da Costa Meyer, “Pierre Chareau” is partitioned into four sections, with each parcel showcasing a distinct facet of the designer’s broad scope of work, including his streamlined furniture and lighting fixtures, his interior design and architecture, as well as his designs for film and examples of the artworks he collected. Rather than resorting to full period rooms, DS+R resituates these rare works for visitors by using historical photographs and drawings to recreate four interiors designed by Chareau—including the salon and garden of the Maison de Verre, an interior living room, and his own office—in virtual reality.

Vignettes of Chareau’s furniture designs—boasting a curious composition that combines decorative details with a machinelike aesthetic—are veiled by scrims of PVC-coated polyester weave, which serve as screens for playfully projected silhouettes of people using the furnishings. For the exhibition’s finale, DS+R conveys the voyeuristic transparency of Chareau’s benchmark Maison de Verre through a clinical lens by crafting a large-scale digital reconstruction. The exhibition is on view now through March 26, 2017.