Design fair comes into its own
The sixth edition of Design Miami/Basel is considered, confident and mature
By Nicole Swengley. From Art Basel daily edition
Published online: 16 June 2011
basel. As live design “performances” go it is hard to beat the daily construction (and overnight dismantling) of a Jean Prouvé pre-fabricated, mobile house that is taking place in Hall 5 of Basel’s Messe complex. And it is a sign of confidence in Design Miami/Basel’s (14-18 June) strength as a marketplace for collectible design that Galerie Patrick Seguin (G01) is staging it.
“Design Miami/Basel is the strongest international fair strictly dedicated to 20th- and 21st-century design, and collectors know they will only see the best the design market has to offer,” said Parisian dealer Patrick Seguin, who is offering the house, originally created in 1944 for war refugees, at “around half a million euros”.
His bullish mood was reflected at Monday’s collectors’ preview and vernissage, which was attended by 6,000 visitors, including US-based collectors Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Lee Mindel, George Lindemann, and Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz, Kenny Schachter from London, Paris-based Ludovic Watine-Arnault, Basel collector Ulla Dreyfus-Best, fashion designer Jil Sander and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Now in its sixth edition, Design Miami/Basel is presenting 35 galleries (up from 32 last year) and the mood feels considered and serious with rare, historical pieces among initial sales.
The show also embraces eight further galleries showing emerging designers’ work, three exhibits by W Hotels-sponsored Designers of the Future award-winners (UK’s Asif Khan, Austria’s Mischer’Traxler and Studio JuJu of Singapore) plus Dutch designer Hella Jongerius’s exploration of colour in Daylight, a light-reflective table commissioned by Design Miami/Basel’s partner, HSBC Private Bank, for its ongoing Connection Collection of limited edition designs.
One indication of the fair’s maturity is a new focus on solo shows—Pierre Charpin at Paris-based Galerie Kreo (G04), Max Lamb at New York’s Johnson Trading Gallery (G35), Mattia Bonetti at London’s David Gill (G14) and Piet Hein Eek at Galleria Rossana Orlandi (G18) of Milan.
The move is clearly paying dividends. Within minutes of opening, Johnson Trading sold two cast bronze tables ($20,000 each) to a US collector and, later, a chair ($35,000), pair of tables ($28,000) and vessel ($18,000), all by Max Lamb. Galerie Kreo sold a Charpin bench and console (€28,000 each), coffee table (€24,000) and vase (€8,500) to French, US and Swiss collectors. Kreo’s Clémence Krzentowski said: “The fair is more mature and people are eager to learn more and buy the pieces.” David Gill, who sold Bonetti’s Organ cabinet (£75,000), said there were some “serious collectors here”.
Another trend distinguishing this year’s fair is the presentation of designs within curated “rooms”. A special focus on French designer Joseph-André Motte is displayed in a period room setting by New York’s Demisch Danant (G07), while Rotterdam-based Galerie Vivid (G21) is showing contemporary work by Studio Job, Kiki van Eijk and Studio Glithero in a traditionally styled living room. The confidence displayed in the market by these curatorial interventions seems well founded. Vivid sold Studio Glithero’s Blueware Tiles wall piece (€9,500) while Demisch Danant sold a pair of leather chairs (€26,000) and a pair of floor lamps (price undisclosed).
Dealers are also benefiting from a stronger focus on historical work. Within minutes of the preview opening, New York’s R 20th Century (G13) sold a rare dresser by Greta Magnusson Grossman for $60,000.
“The layout is much better this year—everyone is more visible,” said François Laffanour of Galerie Downtown-François Laffanour (G16) who sold a Jean Prouvé table and six chairs (€120,000) to a Swiss collector.
Newcomers Galerie Ulrich Fiedler (G08), a Berlin-based Bauhaus specialist, and Galerie Doria (G03), a Parisian gallery focusing on early French modernism, joined other 20th-century specialists including Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval (G09), which is showing Jean-Michel Frank designs, and Galerie Chastel-Maréchal (G29), which is featuring important designs from 1930-70.
At the preview, Galerie Ulrich Fiedler sold a Carlo Mollino chair (€96,000) and a Erich Dieckmann chair (€15,000), while Galerie Doria sold a Pierre Chareau table (price undisclosed). Galerie Chastel-Maréchal sold two Line Vautrin mirrors (from a series priced from €18,000 to €120,000) and Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval sold a pair of Alberto Giacometti wall lights (price undisclosed), which the gallery’s Julie Blum said was “one of the most important pieces of our presentation”.
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