The Whimsical Design Within Objective Gallery’s Debut Exhibition, “Jebara X Shao”

The international organization opens an NYC outpost featuring wondrous works by 25 artists and designers

Open now through 24 April, Objective Gallery‘s inaugural exhibition—aptly named Jebara X Shao, after the destination’s co-founders—transports guests into a meticulous curation of eccentric, elevated furniture and decor. The design gallery, a new outpost of co-founder Chris Shao’s Shanghai-based operation, occupies a well-lit storefront where Tribeca, Soho and the West Village converge. Here, Shao and co-founder Marc Jebara seek to delight and inspire all those who enter.

“We found this space in September and decided to partner up and do this gallery-showroom fusion for collectible design and functional art,” Jebara tells COOL HUNTING on a bright, early-afternoon walkthrough. “I have a good network of interior designers. I do a lot of custom work. Chris has a good network of artists that he works with in Shanghai, where he started Objective Gallery. It made sense for us to pool our resources.” Jebara and Shao transformed the space to meet their needs, sectioning off a portion for Shao’s interior design firm and implementing an S-shaped floor plan elsewhere for people to wander through.

In the Jebara X Shao exhibition, everything is a highlight and nothing feels like an afterthought. Altogether, it’s a wonderland of exploratory forms and tantalizing textures, all underscored by function. “We really analyzed what was already in the market and what other galleries were offering,” Shao explains. Then they sought to present the opposite. “I think the program we have so far is a wild and diverse representation of young artists and designers,” he continues. “Most of them also do not have an art or design background. A lot of these people are cross-disciplinary. That’s key to us.”

In essence, the exhibit can be divided into three conceptual installations. “We started with a section that features Asian women artists,” Shao continues. “All of these artists make their work by themselves. They’re also all from different countries and grew up differently.” The works range from Rosie Li‘s stunning chandelier to Eny Lee Parker‘s swirling tower of lamps [both pictured in the hero image]. “We wanted to mix up the materiality,” Shao continues. In this entry room, visitors will find “ceramic and bronze and glass.”

Turning a corner, one transitions into “an interdisciplinary space, where most of the artists are from New York,” Shao says. “It is a very competitive location and there are so many artists and such limited galleries. For this room it’s more about who we are and what we like, and we did that to set a tone that lets people know what Objective Gallery is and who Jebara and Shao are. We would bring any one of these items into our own home,” he says.

“We love whimsical pieces—things that generate even more curiosity,” Shao continues. That said, the third room offers comfort first and foremost. “We will always keep a living room/lounge setting here,” he says. “As much as how avant-garde or provocative we allow the space to look, it’s really important that we have a section that feels like a home. That’s part of our program.” This third room yields cascading tranquility, from Ian Felton‘s supple couch, tubular armchairs and lava-stone capped tables to Charlotte Kingsnorth‘s endearing, imaginative upholstery of antique chair frames transforming into cozy “cookie monsters.” Shao found Kingsnorth on Instagram before they began to work together. Her contributions were the undeniable highlight to the exhibit.

As the show’s name implies, everything is presented in an objective, equally weighted way. A tissue box bears the same aesthetic value as a throne-like sculpture. “The quality of craftsmanship is a big focus,” Jebara adds. “Nothing is without perfection in its own way.” The gallery can have its pieces personalize and customized, and a thoughtful range of pricing is also represented. “A lot of these artists are part of our generation, as is a lot of the clientele,” Jebara adds. “We are coming up together.”

Images courtesy of Sean Davidson for Objective Gallery