Depending on how it’s designed, a dustpan can either be something you want to hide in the cupboard under your sink or something you wouldn’t mind hanging like an abstract sculpture from your kitchen wall. The latter type of dustpan is one of 35 objects on view in Beauty as Unfinished Business, a new exhibit at the Biennale Internationale Design in Saint-Étienne, curated by London-based studio Industrial Facility. It highlights how today’s industrial designers manage to make everyday objects beautiful.
What we consider beautiful, of course, depends on context. In juxtaposing high-end items by lauded designers and brands (including Philippe Starck, Alessi, Iittala, and Apple) against mass-produced objects (a plastic water bottle designed by budget supermarket chain Aldi), the curators posit that our perception of a product’s beauty depends as much on where it’s showcased and how it’s packaged as on its actual design. “Many of the objects are not that pretty by themselves, but when they are in a beautiful space and in a context with other things, they look and feel attractive,” Sam Hecht, one-half of Industry Facility, writes in an email. Click the slideshow above to read more about the items in the show.