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Exhibition: ‘Portal Tables’ by interdisciplinary design collective The Decorators

Text by CLOT Magazine

The Decorators is an interdisciplinary design collective founded by Suzanne O’Connell, Carolina Caicedo, Xavi Llarch Font and Mariana Pestana in 2011. With backgrounds in landscape architecture, spatial design, curation and psychology, they work on spatial design projects that aim to reconnect the physical elements of a place with its social dimension. On Wednesday, 17 November, The Decorators present their Stanley Picker Fellowship project Portal Tables.

The Decorators’ collaborative cultural programmes aim to expand notions of place, community and commensality  – eating together – and extending it beyond the human. Portal Tables is a furniture series, a film and an exhibition that explore domestic interspecies intimacy in food-making. The project comments on the contemporary obsession with microbial life, probiotics and wellbeing, and speculates on the possible relations and social encounters (political, tender, economic, friendly) across bodies and species. Portal Tables furniture pieces are flatpack and easy to wash. They can be used anywhere in the house – living room, bedroom or kitchen – or outside. 

Food fermentation gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic years of social isolation, with people sharing homemade recipes through social media. The hormonal joy produced by bacterial communities in the human gut serves perhaps as a substitute for the social joy of IRL human communities? They asked. 

Accompanying the furniture pieces are two films, directed in collaboration with Sergio Márquez, with graphics and motion design by Stephen McLaughlin, original soundtrack by Maxwell Sterling, and featuring activations by Justina Jang (Kimjang Project/Kingston Korea Festival), Inês Neto dos Santos and Laura Wilson (performed by Elina Akhmetova and Piedad Seiquer with costumes by Lucie Kordacova). 

In Spring 2021, The Decorators launched their project with Part 1 of the video-essay Portal Tables: Connecting Multiscalar Communities before the project is premiered in full at the Stanley Picker Gallery together with Part 2 of the video essay.

(Image and video courtesy of The Decorators)
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