The making of a peace sign

“Decoration is a crime”: four words that make James Jarvis’s glass piece for this year’s upcoming IKEA Art Event a real thought-starter.

Originally spoken by Austrian architect, Adolph Loos, James says he’s always been interested in decoration as a quite pointless thing, and he likes that his piece isn’t necessarily all that decorative, even though it will be sold as one.

I wanted to make something simple and iconic that embraced and celebrated the material and the manufacturing process.

The hefty block of glass in the shape of a peace sign, titled ‘Co-eternal Binary Opposition’, is an expression of language and gesture – topics that lie close to a lot of James’s work. “I wanted to make something simple and iconic that embraced and celebrated the material and the manufacturing process. The subject matter reflects my interest in language. The symbolic gestures depicted in the sculpture are both in opposition to each other and at the same time part of a whole,” he says. “It has a kind of esoteric English, yin-yang quality to it, where turning it one way it means one thing, and the other way it means another.”

Originally James submitted a more sculptural, character-based design, which was tested as a 3D prototype. However, some elements of it turned out to be impossible with the glass manufacturing process. So, he sent in two other ideas – one of them being this reversible hand. “I think for me, making a piece that wasn’t immediately character-based in design felt like a bit of a risk, but I think that perhaps the image of the hand symbolically has a more universal, elemental appeal. I think sometimes it’s good to go for the less obvious option.”

Once in production, the development was pretty straightforward. And, upon visiting the glass factory James found himself getting true insight into the technical aspects of what could be done with glass. “The only thing I would change if I did a similar project in the future would be to incorporate some kind of personal touch in the final manufacturing process, given the hand-made nature of the product.”

James Jarvis's cheeky peace sign – turning it one way it means one thing, and the other way it means another.
James Jarvis's cheeky peace sign – turning it one way it means one thing, and the other way it means another.