Sabine Marcelis at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona

Sabine Marcelis,

José Hevia,

Barcelona, Spain,

Architecture and Culture,



Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis crafted No Fear of Glass, a site-specific art installation in one of the most iconic spaces of the 20th century, the German Pavilion, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. A material connection between art and architecture.

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Sabine Marcelis at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona Working in what is by many considered to be one of the architectural icons of the twentieth century is no easy task but Sabine Marcelis, a Dutch designer who grew up in New Zealand and lives and works in Rotterdam proves that it is possible, with much elegance and style.
The site-specific installation No Fear of Glass seeks the contrast between the request made to Mies van der Rohe to "not use too much glass" in the German Pavilion of 1929, with the creative proposal of Sabine Marcelis herself, where glass is the key element, pushing the limits of the material
to extremes, as we can see in the images by José Hevia.
While Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich used materials to test out their design ideas, Sabine Marcelis experiments with materials and production to create new and surprising applications that communicate with the Pavilion’s shapes and materials: glass, travertine and chrome. They aren’t just protrusions from existing elements, they are intelligent additions that gently interfere with the Pavilion’s cartesian order. Staying true to the original approach of Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, each of the five new objects created by Marcelis draws inspiration and proportions from the Pavilion itself, balancing the scale of the architecture with that of the object.
The pieces exhibited: two chaise longues, pulled up from the ground by extending the travertine floor to form a base. They are sliced by a singular sheet of curved glass which is seemingly pulled from the walls. The two materials meet and become sculptural but also functional pieces of furniture. Eight chrome columns provide the structural support for the roof of the pavilion. Marcelis introduces a ninth, mirrored-glass column which acts as a light and is positioned in line with the structural columns, blending in seamlessly with the architecture, both in form and material.
Not only have the solid architectural materials been extruded to become new objects, however. The designer also used the natural elements of the pavilion’s design. In the water pond outside, a curved glass fountain appears to bend the water upwards from the ground, letting it spill over and back down.
Maria Cristina Didero, independent curator of the No Fear of Glass exhibition by Sabine Marcelis, explains the designer’s creative approach to the installation in the pavilion: “...She copes with this striking venue with modesty, tenacity, and a good amount of bravery combined with her distinctive delicacy.  Nevertheless, to pay respect does not mean to remain silent: Sabine’s gesture is not invisible within this venue but has a strong presence. A peculiar aura, successfully succeeding not to be outshone by his majesty.”
No Fear of Glass is, therefore, an opportunity to enjoy a particular experience in the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona, where past and present, architecture and design come together in an innovative connection. The installation is open until 12 January 2020.

Christiane Bürklein

No Fear of Glass - Sabine Marcelis
curated by Ippolite Pestellini and Maria Cristina Didero
from 20 December 2019 to 12 January 2020
Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona, Spain
Images: José Hevia
Find out more: https://miesbcn.com/project/no-fear-of-glass-sabine-marcelis/


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