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Potrero Hill's fuseproject: Where Art and Contemporary Design Finally Meet

Nicole Wermers, Untitled (bench), 2010

Nicole Wermers, Untitled (bench), 2010

Amongst the blocks of non-descript warehouses in Potrero Hill sits a graffitied building housing fuseproject, the world-renowned design studio founded by Yves Behar. But that’s not the only thing that sets this building apart from its humdrum neighbors. In June, Behar opened FUSED – one of the few, if not only, exhibition spaces in San Francisco that celebrates the intersection of art and design – in the same building.

“Art is a growing passion of mine,” said Behar in a statement released before the first show opened in June. “Establishing FUSED is a way to engage with and support the art community directly. Sharing this inspiration with the broader art and design worlds, the fuseproject team, and the neighborhood where it lives, is a contribution we look forward to making.”

Gallerist Jessica Sliverman, who was commissioned to curate the space for its inaugural year, has planned a series of shows that focus on the subtle nuances of design in contemporary art.

“Just on the other side of the wall, they’re making creative objects that are mass produced,” she said of fuseproject. “I think that lends itself to what we do in the gallery space, where the same subtleties of design will also come through in each exhibition.”

The current show, Formal Alchemy, features artists N. Dash, Amikam Toren and Nicole Wermers. As the name suggests, the artworks represent the transformation of common objects and materials into something special.

For Untitled (bench), for example, Weners created a bench-like structure by covering three rocks, handpicked by the artist in New York, with a transparent, zigzagged acrylic box. The delicacy of the box impacts the viewer’s desire to sit and raises questions regarding the relative importance of form and function.

Toren experiments with transforming basic objects into sculpture. His Stacks are made by removing one side of a cardboard box, adding pigment to the pulp, applying the mixture to canvas and then stretching the painted canvas over the opening of the original box.

Like at her own gallery, Silverman plans to take “a lot of risk” when curating exhibitions at FUSED, oftentimes showing emerging artists from around the world.

“San Francisco can often feel like a bubble with a glass dome above and people looking inside,” she said. “It’s important that people here are getting a sense of what’s going on elsewhere.”

Formal Alchemy runs through October 5th at FUSED space, 1401 16th Street.