Design Art London organiser Société d’Organisation Culturelle is upbeat about the performance of this year’s art fair event, which starts today, despite weak financial markets.
SOC founder Patrick Perrin admits that ‘when the stock markets go down, it’s not good for anyone’. But he argues that while contemporary painting is dominated by value within the financial markets, collectors of limited-edition and exclusive design pieces are not swayed by investment prospects. ‘If collectors are impassioned, they will still buy,’ he says.
Perrin plans to take the show, which has increased the number of galleries exhibiting from 19 last year to 32 this year, to New York in the future. He defends the integrity of the fair, pointing out that its name has been unfairly confused with a term – design art – that misappropriates unique and exclusive design, and has courted public cynicism. Pieces, each strictly selected and vetted by separate expert committees, he says, adhere to the Design Art London criteria of unique, historic rarity or iconic value. ‘Reproductions are not tolerated,’ he says.
Perrin greets the recent news of design art auction house Phillips de Pury’s takeover by Russian luxury retail company Mercury Group with indifference, commenting that the exclusive design market in Russia is not yet developed enough to be a fruitful venture. ‘It won’t be a real market. There is not yet a single gallery in Moscow and very few clients,’ he says.
This year also sees the inaugural Design Art London Moët Hennessy Prize, the winner of which – Lathe Chair VIII by Sebastian Brajkovic of Carpenters Workshop Gallery (pictured) – will be donated to the Victoria & Albert Museum.
V&A director Mark Jones chaired the selection earlier this week, alongside a panel comprising Tom Dixon, David Collins and Jasper Conran. V&A department of furniture, fashion and textiles curator Gareth Williams chose a shortlist of three pieces – including Arik Levy Brass Rock Fusion 2007 by Kenny Schachter’s Rove Gallery, and Gonçalo Mabunda’s The Woman Throne, from Perimeter Gallery – from among participants.
The array of collectables this year range from iconic Jean Prouvé to contemporary work by Zaha Hadid and Marc Newson. David Gill Galleries has invited furniture design duo Fredrikson Stallard to create a stand, which showcases new and vintage pieces. Fredrikson Stallard’s sculptural chair and stool – King Bonk – will sit alongside Zaha Hadid’s Stardune bench and table, while glass artist James Lethbridge’s chandelier and Dutch group Studio Libertiny’s departure into lighting are expected to be highlights.
Williams, who is putting together an exhibition – Telling Tales/ A Narrative of Design Art – exploring the influence of design art for the V&A next year, says, ‘The sector is very interesting, in that it has given commercial designers more scope to be imaginative and creative in their work.’
Design Art London Moët Hennessy prize
Best contemporary exhibit: Double Loukoum, by Christophe Côme of Cristine Grajales Gallery and HP Le Studio
Best vintage exhibit: Book Shelf 1949, by Gio Ponti of Rosella Colombari Gallery
Best stand: HP Le Studio, by Marc Antoine Patissier