Maurizio Cattelan, Sofia Coppola, art dealer Paul Kasmin, Calvin Klein designer Francis Costa. Sound like a rundown of some of the visitors to the opening day of Frieze? Guess again. These were some of the attendees on the opening day of Collective Design.
With the increasing synergy between the contemporary art and design worlds in recent years–perhaps best exemplified by the Design Miami fair that sprouted up in concert with Art Basel Miami Beach–it was inevitable that Frieze New York would have its own design pairing. Collective Design popped up the same year Frieze did, in 2012, but until now it’s hasn’t quite been up to snuff. This year changed all that. For its third edition, Collective Design, which closed yesterday at the 60,000 square foot event space Skylight Clarkson Sq. in West SoHo, reinvented itself.
The fair was more energetic, and much bigger this time around, with 29 dealers hailing from far beyond the requisite NYC, Paris and London capitals. There were exhibitors from Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Oslo, Copenhagen, Cologne and Stockholm. And fair founder Steven Learner wisely added 14 special exhibitions, among them a Noguchi installation, as well as a much-needed performative element. There were also design demonstrations like an onsite pottery class by the Brooklyn-based In sek. “I wanted people to witness the creative process first hand,” Learner told me.
That doesn’t mean the design standards weren’t there. Yes, the ubiquitous Danish modern was on view, but with a twist. Manhattan dealer Vance Trimble upped the stakes by presenting a rare set of Kaare Klint dining chairs as well as some distinctive Finn Juhl examples. Longtime design exhibitors were charmingly unpredictable: Maison Gerard, once more known for Art Deco and Art Moderne, took a sharp left turn by showing Nacho Carbonell’s floor lamp, a mammoth spotlight with a frenzied fringed resin shade. The ceramics at Joern Lohmann’s booth were hardly of the little old lady variety; a highlight here was the display of Sandra Davolio’s crinkled porcelain vases with delicate ruffled edges.
Like Frieze, this fair has become a place to look for emerging talent. Philadelphia dealer Lewis Wexler brought terrific pieces by recent RISD grad Laura Kishimoto, whose ash veneer chair is a play on negative and positive space in curving forms. Another new talent on show was Tel Aviv-based Sharon Sides, whose chairs have seats and backs in etched brass in a tree trunk pattern and stand on bronze branch-like legs.
Jewelry is de rigeur at design fairs these days, and Collective took the opportunity to show pieces by more conceptual designers who are pushing the limits of what’s possible in jewelry and accessories. Take Dutchman Tod Noten with his pistols-encased-in-solid-Plexiglas handbags, one of which sold for over $25,000 with Ornamentum dealer Stefan Friedeman. Toten’s 2014 Homage to My Grandma is a Plexiglas wheelie bag with twig crucifixes inside. “It’s really for her last journey,” said Friedeman.
And there were design pieces that had one foot in the art arena, like Le Corbusier’s 1960 tapestry Les dés sont jétes, on show with the Danish auction house Brunn Rasmussen. At Mexico City’s ADN Galleria, Trine Ellitsgaard’s beige and black cactus fiber piece, less a rug than a wall hanging, was pure Frank Stella. And at a fraction of the price!
Then there was the requisite work in concrete, which may just be the new teak. Brooklyn dealer MMATERIAL showcased Argentinean Fernando Mastrangelo’s highly appealing concrete conical mini drums. These are meant as seating, and some are embedded with rock salt and quartz crystals.
And the kicker was the car, a 1953 silver-grey Cadillac LeMans convertible, a sleek fiberglass rarity that was way ahead of its time. Such style—and it wasn’t even for sale.