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The Elegant Paranoia of FAUX/real / New York

Tipping between wearable sculpture and conceptual accessories, designers Mari Ouchi and Louis DeCicco use fine metals, mesh and rubber to create visual riddles that slither over the delicate skin of wrists and necks. Their FAUX/real is a hybrid jewelry line and art studio; the difference between the two classifications is based solely on the object’s scale.

Beginning with their first collaboration, for FW10, “theDEATHofFAUXreal”—suggestive geometric pendants on limp chokers, the campaign a pastiche of blurred film stills, Internet cats and Albert Einstein — the pair has turned to unusual sources of inspiration. Representing the remaining physical strains of contemporary life in a digital world, series include “Work Out/In” (SS12), tense curves and heavy metal modeled after Pilates machines and free weights; “Subconscious Supermarket” (FW14), chains covered in bright plastic and rubber to resemble grocery-store candy (Mentos) and a necklace visualizing jumpy nerves caused by caffeine and over-stimulating packaging; and “Bread and Butter,” interlocking bracelets in soft white rubber and rich yellow gold. The line’s latest, “The Bathroom Paranoia” (SS15), creates a pastel-hued horror film, a nightmare in lavender and beige tones, enveloping soap suds and rounded corners of an all-white bathroom studded with pearls and softly polished silver and gold.

The animated accessories sometimes metastasize into installations, such as “Elegant Paranoia,” their exhibition at nonprofit institution White Columns in New York. A glowing scent diffuser hides behind a panel of carpeting; enlarged style patterns, including rubber cords, circular mirrors and snaky lines, illustrate a mise-en-scène for absurd interactions and multi-surface tension. A bracelet from last season’s collection appeared in artist collective Shanzhai Biennial’s slick photographs, themselves a parody of luxury advertisements as part of their installation for the Frieze Art Fair, dismantling the fable of wealth as beauty while positioned in (and commissioned by) a glamorous art fair. FAUX/real also collaborated with artist Anicka Yi for a group of sculptures in 2013, hinging the artist’s textured, organic installations with the designers’ rubber and metal interventions. We can expect future designs to draw on humor and insolence as much as precious materials.

by Jennifer Piejko