Exhibition Overview

Exhibition Overview
The exhibition comprises of six thematic sections and features 72 remarkably inventive works from 42 international designers and artists, including such seminal works as Marcel Wanders’s Knotted Chair, wallpaper by Paul Noble and Vik Muniz for Maharam Digital Projects, and fashions created from reconstructed second-hand clothes by Junky Styling. Deep Surface: Contemporary Ornament and Pattern is organized by CAM Raleigh.

The breadth of the work—drawn from the fields of graphic design, industrial design, fashion, furnishings, architecture, and digital media—speaks to the pervasiveness and relevance of pattern and ornament today. Its hybrid languages are the aesthetic equivalent of the fast-paced and complex exchanges of our contemporary world.

Deep Surface features several objects that have not been shown in the United States such as Minale-Maeda’s Table Manners—and many objects that have not been exhibited outside of their originating venue, including Hella Jongerius’s Sampler Blankets commissioned by the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Deep Surface is co-curated by Denise Gonzales Crisp, Associate Professor at the North Carolina State University College of Design in Raleigh NC, and Susan Yelavich, Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, NY. Together, they see ornament, not as a trend, but as an exciting new chapter in a rich history of visual communication. “This exhibition reveals the ongoing value of ornament and pattern through the work of contemporary designers and artists who are evolving deep and rich traditions,” said Denise Gonzales Crisp, co-curator of the exhibition. “We have gathered works that are ingenious, surprising, sophisticated, and innovative in their form, their story, and their use of technology. Seen here together, these pieces assert, in a variety of ways, ornament and pattern’s relevance to human expression and to the quality of every day life.”

About the themes represented in Deep Surface
Deep Surface presents works in a wide range of media, functionality, and scale and is organized around six themes: Amplification, Everyday, Kit-of-Parts, Inheritances, Elaboration, and Fantasy. Each reveals a different dimension and purpose behind the use of pattern and ornament, ranging from increasing social participation in the construction of everyday objects that can be as common as a chain link fence, to giving full-reign to the imagination, to bringing new life to cherished traditions. Susan Yelavich says, “These themes were carefully chosen to invite visitors to CAM Raleigh to consider the many ways that ornament and pattern engage both the eye and the mind.”

The theme of Amplification emphasizes how ornament and layers of pattern tease out an object’s layers of meaning. The work in this section features ornament that serves as interpreter and magnifies our understanding of the places and things that populate our material landscape from the extreme design of Nest Magazine to the sprawling baroque twists and turns of Joris Laarman’s Heatwave radiator.

In the category of the Everyday, visitors will see how ornament and pattern call attention and give dignity to aspects of daily life that are usually overlooked. Here, the ordinary is transformed to highlight the pleasures and paradoxes embedded in small everyday actions. Ornament makes the inconsequential of consequence, as when Turkish designer Ela Cindoruk prints the news on a humble doily.

Playful variability is explored under the theme of Kit-of-Parts. The objects included here enable people to directly participate in the act of design. This do-it-yourself approach operates on the intimate scale of a graphic logo, utilized by the Walker Art Center and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, that is meant to be manipulated as well as on the architectural scale of the domestic silhouettes created by Boym Partners.

The theme of Inheritances honors and reveals the dormant presence of the past. Here, ornament preserves history and memory, and draws on its wisdom. This work invokes tradition through a contemporary lens, by recombining the past with the present to create pleasant dissonance. History lives anew in projects like Czech designer Maxim Velčovský’s Vase of Vases, which was patterned by impressing antique Bohemian cut glass into its sides.

Elaboration explores the limitless nature of digital design, which generates variation on themes and can replicate pattern toward infinity. The intrinsic structure of these artifacts and systems constitute their expression, such as Nicole and Petra Kapitza’s Geometric project. Their 100-font package can be used to generate endless variations–a combination of rational mathematics and irrational pleasure.

Fantasy will feature work is created to delight. It celebrates the irrational side of human nature. Designed to entertain, to tease, and sometimes provoke, artifacts that refuse to justify their existence in practical terms. Among other fantastical experiences, visitors can look forward to being mesmerized by the patterned space of Jeffery Keedy’s Ornamental Morphologies.

Deep Surface Featured Designers and Artists
Deep Surface contributors include: Textiles, Surfaces, Furniture: Atelier Manferdini, United States; Boym, United States; Campana Brothers, Brazil; Committee, Great Britain; Nipa Doshi, Jonathan Levien, Great Britain; Richard Hutten, Netherlands; Hella Jongerius, Netherlands; Minale Maeda, Netherlands; Maharam Digital Projects, United States and Marcel Wanders, France. Graphic Design, Type Design: 2×4, United States; Marian Bantjes, United States; Peter Bilak, Czech Republic; Andrew Blauvelt, Chad Kloepfer, United States; Cuban Council (K10K), United States; Homa Delvaray, Iran; Behrouz Hariri, Canada/Iran ; Joseph Holzman, United States; Kapitza, Great Britain; Jeffery Keedy, United States; Gail Swanlund, Geoff Kaplan, United States; Andrea Tinnes, Germany; Rudy Vanderlans, Zuzana Licko, United States and Hansje van Halem, Netherlands. Clothing: Alabama Chanin, United States and Junky Styling, Great Britain. Product Design: Tord Boontje, Netherlands; Bouroullec Brothers, France; Ela Cindoruk, Turkey; Demakersvan, Netherlands; Joris Laarman Lab, Netherlands; Niels van Eijk, Miriam van der Lubbe, Netherlands; Maxim Velčovský, Czech Republic; Put-in-Cups, United States and Studio Dror, United States. Architecture: Atelier Manferdini, United States and FAT, Great Britain. Mixed Media: Ebon Heath, United States; and Maria Palazzi, Norah Zuniga-Shaw in collaboration with William Forsythe, United States.

Exhibition Store
A pop-up exhibition store located in the Museum’s lobby will be open during Museum hours. The store will feature exhibited publications such as: I Wonder by typographic illustrator Marian Bantjes, Geometric, a collection of pattern designs by Kapitza, UK, a book about new media artist Jennifer Steinkamp, and a yet-to-be published book about Maharam’s Digital Projects. In addition to books about design, the store will feature exhibition-related products such as Ela Cindoruk’s Doily News, Tord Boontje Garland Lights, Put-in-Cups, Boym Souvenir vinyl wall stickers, and CAM Raleigh branded t-shirts and totes.

About Denise Gonzales Crisp, co-curator of Deep Surface
Graphic Designer, writer, and educator Denise Gonzales Crisp is bi-located in Los Angeles, California, and in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she is a Professor of Graphic Design in the College of Design at North Carolina State University. Her design and writing have appeared in many international publishing venues, including Emigré (US), Items (NL), Form (DE), Design and Culture Journal (US), Design Observer (US) and Eye Magazine (UK); in anthologies such as All Access: The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers and Design Research: Methods and Perspectives; and in exhibitions, including Dimension+Typography (Chicago), East Coast/West Coast Dreams (Paris), and Getting Upper (Pasadena). Denise’s research and production areas include defining the “DecoRational,” a term she coined in the treatise “Toward A Definition of the DecoRational, In Real Time” (Design Research, B. Laurel, ed., MIT Press 2003). She holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.

About Susan Yelavich, co-curator of Deep Surface
Susan Yelavich is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Her areas of research include: contemporary ornament, design and literature, and the relationship between architecture and textiles. She is the author of Contemporary World Interiors (Phaidon Press, 2007), Design for Life (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 1997) and (Whitney Library of Design, 1993); co-author of Inside Design Now (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003); and editor/author of Pentagram: Profile (Phaidon Press, 2004). Yelavich is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, which awarded her the Rolland Fellowship in Design in 2003-04. She is a contributing editor to Patek Philippe International Magazine and a frequent contributor to design publications. She lectures widely and served as guest critic in the New Materials and Textiles graduate program at Nuova Accademia di Belli Arti in Milan from 2007-2010.

Exhibition Sponsors


The exhibition Deep Surface: Contemporary Ornament and Pattern is generously supported, in part, by public funds from the Netherlands Cultural Services and by CAM Raleigh’s young professional group CAM/now.

Deep Surface typeface Escheresk is donated by Tobias Sommer. Other support is provided by ArtSpace, North Carolina Museum of Art, The Gregg Museum of Art and Design at North Carolina State University. Additional donations provided by Artecnica, Ela Cindoruk, Domestic, Sibylle Hagmann, Jeffery Keedy, Maharam, The Monacelli Press, Put-in-Cups, Rizzoli New York, Schmidt Hermann Verlag, Gail Swanlund, Geoff Kaplan, C.T. Wilson Construction Group, and Walker Art Center.

Also On View at CAM Raleigh
On view at CAM Raleigh from July 29– October 31, 2011 is the second installment of the Emerging Artists Series featuring Rebecca Ward. Born in Waco, Texas, Rebecca Ward currently lives and works in Brooklyn. CAM Raleigh is commissioning Ward to develop a site-specific installation to fit uniquely in the Independent Weekly Gallery. Ward uses materials such as found objects, tape and vinyl adhesives to explore space and create three-dimensional geometrical shapes that become extensions of the built environment. Her work was chosen for its combination of site-specific installation art and pattern element, those being the focus of the concurrent main exhibitions upstairs.


CAM Raleigh is a non-collecting museum that explores what’s now and presents an always-changing museum experience. CAM Raleigh is a partnership between the community of Raleigh and North Carolina State University’s College of Design. CAM Raleigh is generously supported by the Contemporary Art Foundation, North Carolina State University, individual and corporate members, private and corporate foundations, and government agencies.

CAM Raleigh is located at 409 West Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 27603, between Harrington and West streets and in the heart of Raleigh’s Depot National Register Historic District and Warehouse District. CAM Raleigh has a parking lot; additional parking is available at metered spots on the street or at the Davie Street Parking Lot located at 201 W. Davie Street. Museum hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and first and third Fridays of the month open until 9 p.m. The museum is closed on Tuesday. General admission to the museum is $5. CAM Raleigh members, children 10 and under, members of the military, members of NARM and Mod/Co, and NC State students, staff, and faculty are admitted free. Information about CAM Raleigh’s exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the CAM Raleigh website at or by phone at 919.513.0946. Follow @camraleigh on twitter.


Download Deep Surface Press Release pdf

CAM Raleigh
409 West Martin Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

Elysia Borowy-Reeder
[email protected] / 919.513.0946
Images and interviews available upon request