By Susan Boullier
Mathias Kiss is a Franco-Hungarian designer with a long-standing fascination with space, perception and transformation.
It’s a strong and recurrent theme in his design work. His passion developed early – at the age of 14, when he began a three-year apprenticeship to an artist, followed by 15 years as a restorer for the French Monuments Historiques.
It was in the latter, interestingly, where he says he learned three-quarters of what he knows today, while painting sky scenes and restoring moldings and cornices with gold leaf.
In 2002 he founded the design agency Attilalou with his friend Olivier Piel, and moved from ‘restoration to creation,’ marking the start of his current design work. Inspired by classic forms and traditions, Kiss is constantly pushing the boundaries of freedom of reinterpretation.
His ‘Reflexion mirror’ (2013) (Serie sans 90°) navigates the boundaries between art and design. Part-sculpture, part design, his inspiration for the mirror was crumpled paper. Here, Kiss deftly explores the concept of the deformation and transformation of a material to create a multifaceted surface. This contemporary interpretation evokes the excitement and luxury of period mirrors but within a radically modern framework. Plate glass mirrors, first produced in Murano Italy in the 16th century, became luxury objects found in palaces across Europe. The ‘Reflexion mirror’ continues this long tradition of luxury and refinement but with an edgy quality that places it firmly in the contemporary world. The surface of the mirror glows with a dynamic energy, glittering with a fragmented vision of the viewer. It is quite simply mesmerizing!
His Goldensnake #9 pieces at PAD Paris this year were astonishingly powerful. The obvious reference to the gilded frames of 18th century mirrors was challenged by the defiantly contemporary shape of the pieces. Mirrors seem to be sprouting from mirrors, all within a classic gilded frame. This dichotomy was further emphasized by the sheepskin-covered Louis XVI chairs in the room placed on the black disjointed carpet designed by Kiss. Just when you feel on home ground, your perception is tipped upside down!
He’s a designer definitely to keep your eye on!
Susan Boullier is a partner in ArteCase, a firm that specializes in opening doors to the objects and lifestyle of Paris.