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Shelving remains an innocuous area of contemporary design’s mythology. Anyone with more than ten books that they care about enough to have on public display has likely mooned after a set of Vitsoe shelves (and then balked at the price); but while Dieter Ram’s precisely structured shelving system has achieved the status of an icon, it’s tough to think of many other examples that wouldn’t seem wilfully esoteric. Hence why the most recent show at the Serpentine’s new Sackler Gallery, design is a state of mind, by Italian designer Martino Gamper, was the first exhibition that I, and likely you, will have visited that is devoted to what is, essentially, storage. In the most anodyne and descriptive terms, this is an exhibition that could be paraphrased as shelves in use.

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Peter Maxwell

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