I recently had a chat with Ioanna Paraskeva from the newly opened design shop in Cologne, CONTAIN Gallery, and thought I’d share our conversation with you since my goal is to spotlight more unique, independent and small galleries and stores out there. If you don’t know Ionnna, she is the wife of Markus Gogolin who is the founder of online design portal, DESIGNSPOTTER, also based in Germany. (Yes, they clearly have a thing for uppercase!) She has worked with him for three years thus far and was responsible for communications and marketing and co-organized three large shows at the International Furniture Fair imm cologne. Wow! These two live and breathe design!
Holly: Hello Ioanna and congrats on your new store. Quick first question to get us started today… how did you decide on the name?
Ioanna: I like the association of containing/comprehension/accommodation; at the same time a container protects precious goods and transports them from one place to another. That’s what I liked most: The idea that I wanted to form a physical location to show international pieces of design and transport their message and meta-ideas to the people around.
Holly: Okay, I get it. It’s part shop, part gallery. How do you define it?
Ioanna: A forum for young and modern design – this is CONTAIN Gallery’s mission statement. Alternating topical exhibitions, presenting international up-and-coming artists and their exclusive prototypes, progressive design concepts and limited editions. Carefully selected pieces will also be available in the Gallery Shop.
Holly: What gave you the idea to open a shop?
Ioanna: A step back is a step forward – Digitally dealing with design on a day-to-day basis led me to desire to give design talents and their products an opportunity to become permanently touchable and come alive in sophisticated surroundings. I took a conscious leap from a breathless digital world right into the decelerated, clear spaces in Cologne’s Aachener Str 29.
Holly: What goals do you have there (shows, workshops, etc.)?
Ioanna: My ultimate ambition is to discover young international design talents and newcomers who have big creative potential. I want to give them advance and claim them simultaneously. My main work as a curator is to cultivate contacts, to communicate in a target-orientated way and to multiply media attendance for the designers I represent. Also, I plan to participate in some exciting international art/design shows – but first of all I have to establish my location here in Cologne.
Holly: How do you plan to market your shop so that word gets around?
Ioanna: As I have a lot of experience in public relations and marketing and furthermore collected a huge amount of designer and press contacts within my work for DESIGNSPOTTER, I already started the PR tsunami :-)
Holly: Who are some of the designers that you currently feature?
Ioanna: Frank Plant (USA/Spain), Bram Geenen (The Netherlands), Zeitgeist Toys for KPM (Germany), Platform/Iker (UK/Poland), Design Apparat (Belgium), Stephan Roller (Germany) and Per Emanuelsson/Bastian Bischoff (Sweden). You can view them all here and read their profiles.
Holly: Why did you select these designers, what spoke to you about their work?
Ioanna: The current exhibition’s theme is „Utopie jetzt! or in English, utopia now!“ and is reflected in the creations of young international designers. Utopia is an idea of an allegedly refined society – contradicted by a cross-section of modern urban lifestyle and it occasionally collides with a constantly growing examination of one’s sensitivities and responsibilities. The scope of exhibited products reaches from Barcelona to Bulgaria, from vehement weapons to enlightened surveillance. What these products have in common are the juxtapositioning of realities. Manga figurines in golden and platinum hand-painted porcelain clothes; a super-sized Kalashnikov in admonishing red; a floor lamp with surveillance cameras as shiners. All these and lots of other exciting designs formulate an international interpretation of meaning, value and use. Objects and their meta-concepts float free, sometimes provocatively, sometimes ironically. In any case they animate the viewer to give some thought to own ideas on how to improve the world we live in.
Holly: Are you accepting new product submissions or do you prefer to approach artists and designers personally?
Ioanna: I am very open minded so anyone can feel free to contact me!
So nice to meet with you today Ioanna and to see your space – thank you for sharing it with us here on decor8!
(images: contain gallery)