Lace in Translation Exhibition Opening Reception Thurs., Sept. 24 at The Design Center

If you have been on Henry Avenue recently, you may have noticed a remarkable new addition to the front lawn of The Design Center at Philadelphia University. A 170-foot “lace” chain-link fence, by the Dutch design studio Demakersvan, has been installed as part of the new exhibition Lace in Translation, opening Thursday, Sept. 24.

An opening reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The reception will be free and open to the campus community and the public.

For Lace in Translation, The Design Center has commissioned three, internationally renowned artists and designers – whose works are often inspired by traditional lace imagery – to mine its historic Quaker Lace archives for inspiration and to reconceptualize conventional notions of lace.

European designers Tord Boontje and Demakersvan and Canadian artist Cal Lane have explored the intersection of luxurious hand-craftsmanship with modern, mass-production techniques through new, site-specific installations.

“This is among the largest and most ambitious exhibitions that The Design Center has ever carried out, and we’re excited about the opportunity that it offers us to reach out to new audiences,” says Hilary Jay, executive director of The Design Center. “While we’ve had site-specific exhibitions before, this is our first time commissioning brand new work, and it’s been particularly rewarding to focus on our textile collection for the inspiration.”

Installations will be located throughout the grounds and galleries at The Design Center at Philadelphia University, located at the corner of Henry Avenue and Philadelphia University Drive.  A special exhibition website has launched to share the artists’ work processes and invite people to submit their own designs and handwork. For more, visit

Boontje – whose work is featured in many permanent museum collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, MoMA, and the Groninger Museum – has created a multi-sensory gallery installation featuring furniture, lighting and laser-cut fabrics.

As part of this site-specific installation, a team of Philadelphia University students, faculty and staff have been working with Boontje’s designs, hand-weaving raffia into pieces for a large lace curtain to hang in the gallery windows.

Demakersvan’s Lace Fence, currently in the Center’s front yard, is the Dutch design house’s first major outdoor installation in the United States. Demakersvan was founded in 2005 by Jeroen Johan Verhoeven, Joep Verhoeven and Judith de Graauw.

“The studio incorporates the traditional craft of bobbin lacemaking in their fence motifs,” said Carla Bednar, assistant director of The Design Center. “In his development of the very first Lace Fence, Joep Verhoeven studied the work of elderly lacemakers in the Netherlands.”

Canadian artist Cal Lane has installed a 600-pound, welded, filigree oil tank on top of The Design Center’s covered grand piano-shaped swimming pool in the backyard garden area. Lane formerly worked as a welder and today uses her welding torch to cut doilies and baroque patterns into objects such as wheelbarrows, I-beams, dumpsters and shovels.

Lace in Translation opens Sept. 24, 2009, and runs through April 3, 2010. Special events and gallery talks with the artists will be held throughout the exhibition. Check the website for details or call 215.951.2860.

The Design Center at Philadelphia University is located the Goldie Paley House, 4200 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19144. The Center’s hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more, visit

*Photo credit: Kerry Polite, courtesy of The Design Center at Philadelphia University

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