Materialistic Disenchantment


A cocktail reception for German Hardware Manufacturer FSB during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and New York Design Week.

E.R. Butler & Co. hosts a reception for German hardware manufacturer FSB from 7-9 pm on Saturday May 16th at the E.R. Butler & Co. showroom, 55 Prince Street, between Lafayette and Mulberry Streets. The exhibition will remain on view until June 31st.

Ophelia, the pre-Raphaelite masterpiece by John Everett Millais, serves as the inspiration for the FSB exhibit, Materialistic Disenchantment. Ophelia is the doomed heroine in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who drowns, heartbroken and mad. A question surrounds her death: was it an accident or a suicide?

Elle Muliarchyk’s photograph for the event’s invitation evokes Millais’s Ophelia – a woman appears drowned and dead, a silvery stream of unfinished FSB handles surrounds her.

Materialistic Disenchantment considers the theme of drowning as it pertains to design today; everything seems over-designed. Have we suffocated the object with our over-exuberance? If so, is this an opportunity for rebirth – a renaissance in which we can return to basics and embrace simplicity again?

This weekend, the 30-foot long glass storefront at 55 Prince Street will be transformed into a “pre-design” utopia. The bases of the rich walnut display cases will be replaced with stainless steel liners and filled with water, wisteria and grape vines, curly willow, pine needles and nuts. The fluvial wetlands will create a tentative foothold for (taxidermied) woodland fauna, such as raccoons, skunks and squirrels. Raw cast aluminum FSB handles – with sprues still attached – will appear semi-submerged in the organic setting.

The FSB lever handle, design number 1147, is the company’s logo and echoes the lever designed in 1927 by Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein for his sister’s home in Vienna. The handle represents the epitome of minimal design. It took Wittgenstein well over a year to reduce a handle to its absolute essence, much like many other aspects of the architecture. “My ideal,” he wrote, “is a certain coolness. A temple providing a setting for the passions without meddling with them.”

FSB has made available more than 800 raw castings of this iconic handle to be distributed at Materialistic Disenchantment.


FSB, GmbH was established over 120 years ago in Brakel, Germany, originally manufacturing furniture fittings. In 1910, FSB produced its first door hardware, and since then has become one of the leading manufacturers of architectural hardware in Europe. They currently produce over 10,000 products in aluminum, stainless steel, and brass.

Further information regarding FSB products for the International market may be found on the following website:

FSB’s North American subsidiary combines German design with American locking technology and distributes FSB products within the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Further information regarding FSB products for the North American market may be found on the following website:

E.R. Butler & Co.

E.R. Butler & Co. is a premium quality custom manufacturer of fine architectural, builders’ and cabinetmakers’ Early American, Federal and Georgian period hardware for doors, windows and fine furniture.

Further information regarding E.R. Butler & Co. products may be found on the following website:

New York Design Week / International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF)

The 21st annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) May 16-19, 2009, will convert New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a worldwide wonder for design disciples. North America’s singular showcase for contemporary design, the fair draws the most intrepid seekers of design truth and design trends to an extraordinary exhibition of the most inspired models of design on the forefront, as well as thought provoking programs and a schedule of supplementary exhibits and features.

Architectural Hardware
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