Samuel Ellinghoven


An absurd world of artificial decorative materials exists in suburban areas of any German city. Fake plants, anthracite grey buddhas, and fences that pretend to be leafy hedges or stone walls can be found. Observing these dystopian curiosities in my neighborhood, I ask myself: where do these synthetic wonderlands lead our society and who creates a need for that?

My work combines handmade inconsistencies and slightly gritty surfaces with a sleek, naturalistic design that dominated the digital shift to a more optimistic utopia during the era of the arrival of smartphones. I am drawn to the loudly colored graphics of the Frutiger Aero aesthetics prevalent in advertising and stock imagery that mirrored the pure joy of the early to mid 2000s. This includes glossy, shiny textures, candy coated color palettes, and design elements such as bubbles and sparkles. These inspirations lead me to the devilish source of random lapses of taste in contemporary German society.

I embrace a do-it-yourself approach to making that is typical of German bourgeoisie work and design practices for creating environments of tastelessness. Cheap and easy-to-replace products are used in my work. I often include clean transparent plastic or pre-colored materials, to which dirty-looking textures in hot glue or plaster are added. I combine this with the hilarious use and look of specific products with a focus on profit or uselessness, even if the product’s quality and functionality are intact. Random synthetic things are often purchased from the hardware store or eBay, like plastic card boxes and plaster cat figurines, which are then mixed together with hot glue structures and 3D-printed objects to create a new way to perceive these readymade elements.

My work is an installative and sculptural autopsy of middle-class ideals, where an urgent need for the unpleasant, nature-despising use of things is called into question. Through appropriating objects and cultural phenomena, I ultimately exaggerate these kind of critical turning points. I want to highlight the downfall of communities like the one I grew up in, which are drifting away more and more from any natural connection with their personal surroundings.