First retrospective of designer Neal Small


Material ConneXion® presents the first retrospective of designer Neal Small.


The exhibition will mark the official opening of Material ConneXion's new headquarters in New York.

Red Lamp - 1960's - Acrylic

Material ConneXion®, the platform for material innovation and solutions, will celebrate the opening of its New York City headquarters with the first retrospective of work by American designer Neal Small. Renowned for his pioneering use of materials such as Plexiglas® and Lucite to create furniture, lighting, home accessories and even sculpture, Small's work is included in such prominent collections as The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution and the Walker Art Center. Featuring several important loans from private collections, this retrospective presents a rare look at Small's most iconic designs from the ‘60's and ‘70's.

"Origami" Side Table - 1960's - Plexiglas® Floor Lamp (model 2037) - 1966 - Acrylic

Hailed as the “Prince of Plastic” by The New York Times, Neal Small can be credited with helping to ignite the craze for plastic furniture that swept the nation more than forty years ago. The self-trained designer and one-man operation, who conceived, manufactured and sold his innovative creations to high-end department and specialty stores straight from his New York City studio, was said by New York Magazine to have been responsible for "almost single-handedly supplying the market with quantities of excellent [plastic] design."

In an interview with Time magazine, Small likened “old-fashioned furniture” to “a dead whale in the living room,” and the ethereal cocktail and end-tables featured in this exhibition, formed from single sheets of translucent acrylic, clearly demonstrate the designer's proclivity for simple, efficient designs. Small's celebrated red acrylic splay-footed Floor Lamp (1966) and white spherical Area Lamp (1968), both of which are featured in MoMA's permanent collection, are also on view, as well as a selection of rarely seen, translucent objects and sculpture, on loan from a private collection. These distinctive and at times playful “see-through” pieces highlight Small's unusual plastic-shaping techniques, as well as his wit and ingenuity.


“For a long time, people thought acrylic plastic was only good for displays,” Small told The New York Times in 1967. “But now, I think, we've gotten more adult in our design ideas. There's going to be a lot of valid design with this material.” Time proved the visionary designer right, and Material ConneXion's resurgence of Neal Small's work details the historic and aesthetic importance of his imaginative and inventive designs.

                                Area Lamp (model 1112) - 1966 - Acrylic & chrome-plated metal

Neal Small was born in New York City in 1937. In the mid-60s he opened Neal Small Designs on West 24th Street in Chelsea, where he manufactured and sold his innovative products to Bloomingdale's and other leading retailers of the day, including B. Altman & Co, W & J Sloan and Scarabaeus. Throughout his career, Small has received 9 awards for Excellence of Design from Industrial Design Magazine, in conjunction with The Smithsonian Institution, the Brooklyn Museum and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. His work has been exhibited and is featured in the permanent collections of many prominent institutions. Small lives and works as an artist in rural Maine.

Exhibition from April 1 to June 12, 2009
Material ConneXion
60 Madison Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10010

tags: furniture, lighting, exhibitions, plastic
1 comment send digg technorati
One comment so far:
Corey's Gravatar Corey, on October 26:

Nice! One of the origami tables happens to be up on eBay currently. It's very very tempting.

20ème Siècle
Desi Andrews, on March 28:
"It's interesting how we can look at nature to come up with ideas for great technological advancement..."

Krish, on March 25:
"Yes, agree with Mr. Wright"

SDR, on March 12:
"Only now, 75 years after Mr Wright proposed the Broadacres (literal) model of the future, can we ser..."

Jade, on March 10:
"Yes. I am beyond being in agreement with Mr. Wright--this is the future, dismantling suburbs for sel..."

Them Le, on March 1:
"Amazing product for customer"

Natacha Watson, on January 20:
"I personaly prefer gold vases :p"

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