Friedman Benda

Friedman Benda Friedman Benda is a platform to identify and advance key narratives that intersect contemporary design, craft, architecture, visual and conceptual art, and cutting-edge technological research.

* Please note that we require wearing a mask at all times on our premises. Guests will be required to sign a COVID-19 release and submit their contact information. Friedman Benda reserves the right to take visitors’ temperatures upon arrival and/or deny entry to any visitors at our own discretion.

Operating as usual

"My intentions with developing an extended body of work under the title iThongo is to highlight a gathering of dreams, s...

"My intentions with developing an extended body of work under the title iThongo is to highlight a gathering of dreams, seated in the soul, held by the spirits of our ancestors. The language of dreams is symbolic and therefore realized as uyalezo, messages from our ancestral spirits."

Friedman Benda announced iThongo by Andile Dyalvane, unveiling in New York on April 29, 2021. An extensive collection of sculptural ceramic seating, iThongo is Dyalvane’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and the second collaboration with Southern Guild. In homage to his ancestors, this body of work traveled in its entirety to Dyalvane’s rural homestead in Ngobozana, Eastern Cape, where his family and extended community had the opportunity to view it in November before being presented in Cape Town at the Southern Guild and presently, in New York at Friedman Benda.

iThongo, meaning “ancestral dreamscape” in Xhosa, refers to the medium through which messages (uYalezo uLwimi lwabaPhantsi) are transmitted from the ancestors. iThongo comprises a series of sculptural stools, chairs and benches, exhibited in the custom of Xhosa ceremonial gatherings, in a circular arrangement around a fire hearth and herbal offerings. Hand-coiled in terracotta clay, their voluptuous, rounded bases give rise to sculptural backrests stretching up to almost a meter tall. The intricate form of each is based on a single pictogram or glyph from a series of close to 200 symbols that Dyalvane has created to denote important words in Xhosa life – such as entshonalanga (sunset), igubu (drum), umalusi (herdsman) and izilo (totem animals) – and which also relate to the natural world and more universal human themes and concepts.

Dyalvane’s symbolic lexicon has been an ongoing project, born of his interest in preserving traditional Xhosa knowledge, cultural practices and language. The symbols began as calligraphic ink drawings that he has codified over the years, dating back to the work he produced for his first solo show at Friedman Benda, Camagu, in 2016. Their debossed forms also emerge from and dissolve into the sculptures’ clay surface, an effect created using tools such as carved stamps and linocut tiles. His coded language thus becomes embedded into both the form and the skin of each piece.

Taking their inspiration from both Dyalvane’s personal memories and various African artefacts, the seating objects are low, sitting close to the earth – the ground revered as an ancient portal for ancestral communion. Their forms are curved and spherical, echoing the traditional rondavel structures and kraal enclosures in which livestock are kept. Circular geometry is believed to facilitate a free exchange of energy in Xhosa spiritual practices (as it is in many other belief systems), in keeping with the organic shapes found in nature.

A series of interdisciplinary collaborations that Dyalvane initiated with other artists further broadens the exhibition’s scope. Sound healer and musician Nkosenathi Ernie Koela produced an immersive composition combining traditional instruments and sounds created by the artworks; Sisonke Papu, an Umtata-based poet, traditional healer and co-founder of the ISPILI Network in the Eastern Cape, wrote about Dyalvane’s use of symbology for the catalogue; and textile artist Onesimo Bam made a collection of garments hand-painted in indigo dye for him to wear for the ceremonial presentation of his work to his village and to gift to his elders.

A major exhibition, with poignant current relevance and profound cultural significance for the artist, iThongo extends outwards to his OoJola clan, the Xhosa people, South Africans of all races, and Black people of African descent. It is accompanied by a short documentary film and a catalogue containing academic texts shedding light on the exhibition’s spiritual aspects, both made possible with the support of BMW South Africa.

Dries Van Noten announced his invitation to Misha Kahn to exhibit his new work at The Little House, 451 N. La Cienega Bl...

Dries Van Noten announced his invitation to Misha Kahn to exhibit his new work at The Little House, 451 N. La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles. Available to the public April 1st until May 8th, 2021.

“Watermelon Party” includes a domestic setting featuring Kahn’s VR-created Claymation furniture. Table lamps in a diverse range of materials, from auto-painted resin to ceramic, will also be on view. Dries Van Noten and Misha Kahn have collaborated on a limited-edition printed silk bomber jacket and t-shirt. Kahn has lent his imagination with an original motif for these garments, designed by Van Noten.

The show’s title, ‘Watermelon Party,’ reflects Kahn’s take on a curious last year. A few months into quarantine, from his parents’ house in Duluth, Minnesota, their neighbors invited his family over for a watermelon party. For weeks leading up to the event, starved for socialization, they speculated what might happen at the watermelon party.

Says Kahn: “In my scatterbrained, depressed stupor of a year, this watermelon party suggested purpose. It gave a bunch of random people, grouped together by proximity, an antidote to isolation. In a way, that’s what I’m always striving for in my work: an irreverent, all-ages serving of mystery with a big spoonful of why. In my practice, I’m constantly throwing around new materials and processes, forever looking for a binding force, something to explain the why of it all to the outside world. And maybe it’s simpler than I thought. Maybe it’s just a watermelon party two Tuesdays from now.”

Friedman Benda presented British designer Paul Cocksedge’s fourth solo show with the gallery entitled Performance. The e...

Friedman Benda presented British designer Paul Cocksedge’s fourth solo show with the gallery entitled Performance. The exhibition explores the processes of craft with three bodies of work that capture and express their theatricality in material form: Performance, Push and Excavation. Examining the relationship between maker and audience, and the idea of the outsider watching the craftsperson at work, each series is a vehicle for storytelling, drawing inspiration from and abstracting the physical process of making.

The Performance series follows the centuries-old technique of glassblowing, one that Cocksedge has been interested in for over a decade. For this series, Cocksedge synthesized the finished blown glass objects and the tools and materials used in this process to create his final works. Cherry wood molds have been shaped and finished using CNC-cutting, and molten glass blown into them to create a singular glass object. Rather than discarding the blackened and burnt wood after use, it has been rotated, moved, twisted, cut up and reassembled like a puzzle, and transformed into a piece of furniture that sits beneath the suspended glass object. For one table, Cocksedge sliced metal to create infinite possible variations similar to a digital code, with the result reminiscent of a canvas filled with lines and forms, that the viewer is left to decode.

The Push series brings giant blocks of concrete together with sheets of metal, curled up like large paper quills and inserted into the blocks where they unfurl and lock into place. These large-scale sculptural seating works explore the tension between the two materials through the cantilever and the drastic contrast between the two materials.

This exhibition also presents Excavation, the follow-up to Cocksedge’s acclaimed Excavation: Evicted series, which saw him turn concrete cores mined from beneath his studio into pieces of furniture. For Excavation, the designer collected cores drilled from around the country by essential workers during lockdown, which were used to blow glass to create a suspended lighting fixture to accompany the piece. As such, the process is a kind of record of the pandemic, capturing a moment in time. “They’re not just any random block of concrete, they’re part of a moment in time when the world felt upside down,” says Cocksedge.

Friedman Benda presented MelonMelonTangerine, British artist Jonathan Trayte’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. In...

Friedman Benda presented MelonMelonTangerine, British artist Jonathan Trayte’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Informed by Trayte’s recent 2000-mile road trip through the Western United States, MelonMelonTangerine offers an outsider’s perspective on the American landscape. As an avid observer, Trayte poignantly examines the ways in which we perceive and utilize natural resources through his signature tongue-in-cheek sensibility.

With a keen perception and eye for the obscure, Trayte finds the surreal in our everyday surroundings and within the fabric of daily life. Realized while in isolation amidst the current pandemic, he recalls hazy visions of sedimentary rock formations, Joshua trees, lichens, silver cholla cacti and prickly pear fruits to inform this new body of work. A visual raconteur, Trayte reimagines natural forms while appropriating highly stylized motifs from product packaging and advertising ephemera as a nuanced commentary on the universal language of consumerism. Embracing contradictions between the organic and the artificial, he uses the American archetype of the Wild West to examine the rampant excess and waste inherent in today’s society.

“Color is so important as a means of persuasion, persuading people to consume in particular kinds of ways, or in appealing to specific social groups. I create synthetic painted veneers and compositions of materials that either reflect or distort this language; they're like skins of paint or textures that create a kind of chameleon appearance,” says Trayte.

As a nod to Pop art, Trayte subverts the still-life genre, probing tensions between familiarity and displacement. Aimed to transport the viewer to an otherworldly botanical garden, the exhibition debuts his most ambitious work to date including a large palm-like swing seat and a fantastical illuminated cantilever bench rendered on a massive scale. Using vivid hues and innovative processes, the result is an imaginary dreamscape – a surreal collage of color, materials, forms and textures.

Friedman Benda announced the opening of Pop Up in Miami, Florida, opening January 23 through April 25, 2021. Pop Up exhi...

Friedman Benda announced the opening of Pop Up in Miami, Florida, opening January 23 through April 25, 2021. Pop Up exhibition highlights work from the gallery’s decade and a half history, representing both established and emerging designers across five continents. The space will be a platform for contemporary design, showcasing a diverse range of practices, material choices, and conceptual innovation.

The installation includes work by: Daniel Arsham, Estudio Campana, Wendell Castle, Byung Hoon Choi, Carmen D’Apollonio, Andile Dyalvane, Najla El Zein, Thomas Fougeirol, Bruno Gambone, gt2P, Misha Kahn, Joris Laarman, Raphael Navot, OrtaMiklos, Adam Silverman, Faye Toogood, Jonathan Trayte, Marcel Wanders, Thaddeus Wolfe.

Friedman Benda presented its seventh annual guest-curated exhibition Split Personality. Curated by Alice Stori Liechtens...

Friedman Benda presented its seventh annual guest-curated exhibition Split Personality. Curated by Alice Stori Liechtenstein, independent curator and founder of Schloss Hollenegg for Design, the exhibition explores how functional objects undergo a process of mutation to acquire symbolic value, and thus develop split personalities that oscillate between their different identities.

The works on display at Friedman Benda, ambiguously classifiable as chairs, tables, rugs, are meant as furniture of practical and comfortable nature. And yet, as the curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein puts it, “the personality and implicit meaning of these pieces are so assertive that they appear to be at odds with the function.” In the course of history, objects (and furniture in our specific case) were rarely valued and made purely for their function. They have always carried specific cultural, subjective or philosophical messages. Objects are used to characterize, communicate and develop our sense of self and construct our own identity. The idea that objects might have a split personality might help us to recognize the different identities they are capable of embodying, and acknowledge their power to be alternatively functional furniture or conveyors of meaning.

Artists and designers on view include: Arnaud Eubelen, Chris Schanck, Christien Meindertsma, Commonplace Studio, Emma Fague, Fernando Laposse, Ismael Rifai, Jonathan Trayte, Katie Stout, mischer’traxler, Nobukho Nqaba, Rich Aybar, Soft Baroque, Brynjar Sigurdarson, Studio Wieki Somers, Thomas Ballouhey, and Toomas Toomepuu.

On November 5, 2020, Friedman Benda opened an expansive exhibition called What Would Have Been. On the heels of a tumult...

On November 5, 2020, Friedman Benda opened an expansive exhibition called What Would Have Been. On the heels of a tumultuous and unprecedented cycle of global events, the gallery will share a trove of design from over 30 studios originally destined for exhibition in galleries, fairs, and museums across five continents.

What Would Have Been shows us what we have been missing and points forward; it fills in the blank spaces, offers new direction and represents a coming together of voices. The show tells a story of design that juxtaposes established designers with newcomers without predictability from either, and prompts a re-examination of assumptions consistent with current events at large.

The exhibition makes accessible design that lost its intended platform; works shown briefly before museum doors closed or failed to open at all in Atlanta, Ghent, Melbourne, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Shanghai, Wiltshire, and further; works commissioned for festivals and art fairs including the London Biennale, TEFAF, The Salon, Design Miami Basel; and works that were slated for the gallery in Chelsea before the New York art community shutdown.

What Would Have Been provides a platform not only for work that lost its expected audience in 2020 but gives a first opportunity to engage with bodies of work and narratives that have come to brilliant fruition during this same time period. They emerged because of, or in spite of, the seismic shifts in the familiar political, social, and economic order. They are an affirmation of what can be accomplished when society retreats physically but remains hyper-connected digitally. And they represent the uninterrupted dialogue and partnership with makers, studios, museums, and design audiences across the world that is at the heart of the gallery mission.

Consistent with the period that inspired it, What Would Have Been takes place not only in the gallery but also online, marking the tension and dialogue between these two spaces.

British artist Faye Toogood’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, Assemblage 6: Unlearning, opening September 10, 202...

British artist Faye Toogood’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, Assemblage 6: Unlearning, opening September 10, 2020.

Assemblage 6 marks a dramatic rupture in Faye Toogood’s creative trajectory, in which she has set out to ‘unlearn’ the process of design, and build it up again from scratch. This has led her to a conflation of furniture and sculpture, which draws upon the shifting perspectives encountered in childhood fables. The playful qualities of rough-hewn maquettes, broken up by the corrugations of crumpled paper and masking tape, are recast at functional scale – daybeds, chairs and consoles, manufactured in cast bronze, wrought iron and rough canvas. Taken as a whole, the collection suggests how deceptive first appearances can be. Trompe-l’oeil effects imitate the twisted wires and taped cardboard of the original models, preserving the creative steps that led to their own genesis even as the true materials of their construction are disguised. The designs suggest the aleatory qualities of folk art or found objects – yet every crinkle and crease has been carefully considered and recreated. And though they still evoke a moment of unforced naïveté, in which a shape is first roughed out, their imposing physicality betrays the involvement of numerous skilled hands. Glenn Adamson, Senior Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art, comments, “Faye Toogood’s new Assemblage is a tour de force of thinking and making, which hides in plain sight. Through an ingenious set of imitative processes, she and her team have devised a way to do justice to that first, instinctive moment that a form comes into being. There is tremendous energy in this moment, and each work in the Assemblage is in effect a monument to that quality of instantaneous creativity.”

Design in Dialogue #9: Libby Sellers

Libby Sellers, the leading independent design curator, discussed projects including her 2019 show An Accelerated Culture, and share thoughts on autonomy and creative practice at times of disruption.

#FriedmanBenda #DesigninDialogue #LibbySellers

ORTAMIKLOS: 6 ACTS OF CONFINEMENTJune 22 - July 31, 2020More information:

June 22 - July 31, 2020

More information:

Friedman Benda is pleased to present OrtaMiklos: 6 acts of confinement, the first US solo exhibition of the French and Danish creative duo. In 6 acts of confinement, OrtaMiklos debuts a new body of work divided into six discrete scenes with each act representing a different emotional response to this current moment in time.

“It’s during a moment of lockdown that the mind wants to escape. Perhaps it escapes into forms that appear to be unknown, the same as where we feel our future is going,” says OrtaMiklos.

The show will feature collaborations and a curated selection of works with artists including Bráulio Amado, Coady Brown, Salomé Chatriot, Sarah Faux, Jānis Melderis and Reginald Sylvester II creating a multidisciplinary experience. Since many of OrtaMiklos’ ideas begin in guerrilla performances, the additional objects are conceived as props for an intuitive theater of making, utilizing ad hoc sculpting and coloring processes. Through explosively energetic and imaginative objects, OrtaMiklos draw from a wide variety of references, such as body movements and contortion, graffiti, and animation.

As a digital extension of the exhibition, OrtaMiklos have collaborated with digital artist Janis Melderis, composer Amédée De Murcia, and writer Richard Johnston Jones to realize a virtual occupation of the Temple of Dendur, the ancient monument that now sits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Taking this currently unvisitable site as a stage of imaginative operation, OrtaMiklos and their team have created an arresting video, combining animation and performance, which confronts the alienating experience of the current pandemic. Ricocheting through the disturbing psychological terrain of the present, they also riff on the past – Pop Art and radical design practice – while giving some indication of their own future travel.


Leo Orta (b. 1993, Paris) and Victor Miklos Andersen (b. 1992, Kalundborg) formed OrtaMiklos in 2015 while studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Generally informed by natural habitats and processes, the creative duo’s experimental approach activates their design works from the existing norms. Their works have been exhibited in international museums, such as Icebergs In Progress at Museo Marino Marini in Florence (2018), in Foncteur d’oubli, at Le Plateau Frac Ile-de-France and Kleureyck: Van Eyck’s Colors in Design at Design Museum in Ghent (2020) and will be on view at Le Tripostal in Lille. OrtaMiklos currently operates the studio across two locations in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and Les Moulins, France.


515 W 26th St
New York, NY

Opening Hours

Monday 11am - 6pm
Tuesday 12pm - 6pm
Wednesday 12pm - 6pm
Thursday 12pm - 6pm
Friday 11am - 6pm
Saturday 11am - 6pm


(212) 239-8700


Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Friedman Benda posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Friedman Benda:


Nearby museums


“Lewis Dube has a unique sense of abstract visual language . .” Kathy Battista – Sothebey’s Institute of Art “Great work…really gets your spatial sense working. – AFA Gallery