Thomas Barger’s Hole-Filled Creations
Thomas Barger’s puffy pastel chairs and whimsical ruffled tables only look soft; in reality, the designer and artist makes his furniture by molding a slurry of paper and sawdust onto wooden frames, then sanding and painting them until they’re flawlessly smooth. “I want them to feel almost manufactured,” he says of his pieces, which he began making in 2016.
Yet as Barger expanded his practice to include sculpture and wall art, he became interested in subverting, rather than striving for, perfect surfaces. After years of patterning his furniture with neat, even grids of holes — for an effect reminiscent of saltine crackers — he recently started exploring how such openings can, in his words, “interrupt,” rather than adorn, a piece. In one of his newest works, which can be seen in a solo show that opens in November at New York’s Salon 94 Design, woven baskets and perforated circles pierce through an enormous wall panel painted to resemble folksy farmhouse gingham. Barger sees the holes as a “sexual element” disrupting the reference to his conservative Midwestern roots. Growing up queer on a cattle farm in rural Illinois, he says he used to feel uncomfortable expressing a sexual side. Now 30 and based in Brooklyn, he’s embracing his identity. “As a whole person,” he says, “you have to accept parts of yourself that you used to not like.” — Gillian Brassil
In Tel Aviv, a New Stay on a Fabled Street
Every city has its iconic street, and Tel Aviv’s is the jacaranda-tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard. Named after Baron Edmond James de Rothschild of the French banking dynasty, it’s home to some of the city’s most beautiful Bauhaus buildings. One of them has been transformed into the 11-suite R48 Hotel and Garden. Most of the rooms have balconies, and they all overlook gardens designed by the Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf, who also worked on New York City’s High Line. There’s a rooftop pool, as well as work from local contemporary artists and a 30-seat fine-dining restaurant that will serve an ever-changing menu of seasonal dishes with ingredients from Caramel Market, Tel Aviv’s century-old open-air souk. Rooms from $1,500; r48.co.il. — Sara Lieberman