The smart-looking P Design Gallery (2590 Walnut Street, 720-259-2516) is dedicated to presenting design in an exhibition format with a decidedly fine-art flavor. The current exhibit is DoubleButter Boontje, a duet of shows featuring a trio of artists.
The DoubleButter part of the title refers to the collaborative effort of two Denver designers, David Larabee and Dexter Thornton, whose work is featured in the first gallery space. Larabee and Thornton, each of whom operates an atelier, are both very serious about furniture, and they've designed their pieces with a number of things in mind, including longevity. "We prefer simple lines because simple things look good longer," says Larabee, noting that DoubleButter wants to make furniture that will be handed down for generations. "We want them to last for 150 years," he says. The simplicity also facilitates production, an essential element for the success of their endeavor.
The resulting pieces are very much of our time, and they relate well to an array of international trends in contemporary design. There's even a green element, with DoubleButter employing unusual and even ad hoc materials, as in the Plyboo chairs made of bamboo plywood. Formally, these are examples of signature DoubleButter dining chairs that are cushion-less and armless, with the legs attached to runners instead of ending in feet like a conventional wooden chair. In addition to the aforementioned Plyboo, there are chairs made from synthetics and hardwoods. There's a sort of homespun Mart Stam quality to them that's really intriguing. More formally innovative are the broken steel tables and cabinets that combine wood with powder-coated metal. One of the most modest of these, "Crow" (pictured), has a great sculptural presence and is obviously highly functional.
In the second exhibit space is Boontje, which refers to Tord Boontje, one of the hottest European designers. So hot, in fact, that the Denver Art Museum is acquiring some of his pieces through P Design. The cloth-and-paper chandeliers, including the famous "Come Rain Come Shine," are marvelous, and the transfer-printed china of winter scenes are just as good.
DoubleButter Boontje runs through December 31 at P Design Gallery.