From his studio in Melbourne, Australia, designer Fabio Ongarato provides identity design, publishing, art direction, and placemaking expertise to clients in architecture, fashion, and retail. Collaborating with Herman Miller on the recent Then X Ten exhibition, Ongarato helped select the ten contemporary artists commissioned to create new poster designs.
What was the thinking that led to the concept of the Then x Ten exhibit?
[We] looked to the past to shape the future. The poster designs created for Herman Miller by Armin Hofmann in the 50s were our inspiration—we imagined what would the modern versions look like today and who would be invited to create them.
Was there challenge in balancing the posters from the past with the new ones?
I wanted them to have equal value—a mirror reflection of past and present. The contemporary image-makers provide a view of Herman Miller today, while the posters of old reconnect people the value of what came before. Steve Frykholm, one of Herman Miller’s most famous poster designers, has helped curate the past images.
Do you have a personal favorite?
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman poster by Mrzyk & Moriceau has become one of my favorites; it’s a simple black and white drawing depicting amorphous figures sandwiched between two lounge chairs. It’s daring, surreal, absurd, humorous, and sexualized, but most of all, it’s very memorable.