Common Nouns takes the 15th anniversary of Raw Mango as an opportunity to look at the connections the brand passionately makes with both the contemporary and the ancient, through its work and collections of objects.

In a sense, the philosophy of Raw Mango as a design house was ‘collected’ over the years, much like its objects, as opposed to being issued as an edict at inception. Creatively, it is driven by both impulses and conscious thinking. Most of the brand’s projects are driven largely by a curiosity to understand the systems and values we subscribe to as a society—what and how we choose to adopt and discard—while interrogating the cultural movements that shaped them. All of this makes it difficult to locate its inspirations in a fixed place or time. As observers and partners in their journey, we wanted to use this project to explore this sense of heterotopic positions and the brand's fascination with objects (and the ideas that shape them).

As a starting point, we look at these fascinations as cultural forces, constantly moving while absorbing and negotiating meanings, status and ownership. Anthropologist Igor Kopytoff says that we could approach the biography of a thing the same way we would a person and it would reveal a significant amount of data about the culture it came in contact with. These objects and surfaces thus become markers of histories and carriers of ideas and knowledge across generations, revealing an image of the people and their beliefs that shaped them in the first place. The presence of commonalities within our activities—like in arts, crafts or music—and systems—like traditions or languages—shows a common pursuit for meaning through artistry, and speaks to the universality and resilience of our expressions and shared histories.

Common Nouns seek to expand on these notions by looking at how our things and beliefs change as they move through various spheres of exchange over time. The artworks presented here are a result of an invitational call to align with these fascinations and explore our understanding of these passages. From meditations on material cultures to deliberations upon the nature of language and symbols through historic and speculative lenses, and explorations on the nature of familiar and unfamiliar, these fifteen creators bring in a layer of materiality that speaks to the surfaces they probe, through works across themes, methods and tools.