SPRING News & Notes
It’s spring, and across the globe design fairs are blooming. The Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD), which will open later in London and New York, commences its season in its hometown of Paris, where the myriad doors to its vast exhibition spaces (we’re told that the venues for this year’s fair will be more centralized and spacious than ever before) will open on March 28 and remain so through April 1. The eclectic fair welcomes a mix of periods, genres, and styles and will draw seventy-seven blue chip exhibitors whose palettes are fittingly diverse. Monolithic it is not: come for the best of European and American art and design, including cerebral limited editions and twentieth-century paintings, from venerable dealers (Chahan, Franck Laigneau, and Yves and Victor Gastou) as well as new lights. One such light is the Fumi Gallery. All the way from gritty Shoreditch, London, where it was the first gallery to open its doors in 2008, Fumi makes its international debut with a cabinet by Studio Silverlining coyly fashioned from high-performance “super-yacht” materials, as well as works by Max Lamb, who juxtaposes the exquisite art of Urushi lacquer with his deliberately primitive style. Another to watch: the veteran Carpenters Workshop Gallery, also from London, which returns to PAD with a series of functional sculptures by Wendell Castle, new works in bronze by Ingrid Donat, and a collection of tables by nendo that mimic glass in liquid form.
Next up, the capital of ka-ching throws in its chips for one-off design. Design Days Dubai debuts as the region’s first fair devoted to limited edition design March 18–21. Twenty-three galleries are to participate. The roster showcases regional and international stars like Beirut’s Carwan Gallery and Mariam Al Nassar 20th Century Decorative Arts from Kuwait, as well as rising ones that have never exhibited outside their home country before, such as São Paulo’s Coletivo Amor de Madre and Seoul’s Croft Gallery. Headlining the show is R20th Century, those darlings of Tribeca, who bring the budding event a measure of swagger, not to mention intellectual heft.
On April 12–15, Dolphin Promotions and 1stdibs founder Michael Bruno bring New York City another show of its own. The inaugural New York 20th Century Art and Design Show and Sale (NYC20) will open its doors in a tent in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. There, forty exhibitors straight from Bruno’s enviable Rolodex will showcase their curated holdings of twentieth-century fine and decorative arts.
The following weekend, April 20–23, go across town to the Park Avenue Armory for a sampling of works by Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle, Beatrice Wood, John Kiley, Olga de Amaral, and more, at the fifteenth annual Sculptural Objects and Functional Art Fair (SOFA NEW YORK).
Heading farther west we come to the city of Minneapolis, where a happening at the Walker Art Center promises to rejuvenate. Lifelike, an exhibition featuring artists from around the world, examines and celebrates the commonplace object as art. Don’t expect the slickness of 1960s pop. Instead, come to ponder the quiet allure of everyday things—an apple core, a waiting room, or an afternoon nap.
Plumbing the past for design inspiration is nothing new. But some companies are better equipped to do it than others. When Herman Miller dips a hand into its grab bag of yesteryear, finding a gem is easy, and this time, there are two: the Eames Lounge chair and ottoman and the Eames Aluminum Group. Both have been re-imagined. The first, one of the most recognizable masterpieces of mid-century design, is little changed. Here, it returns with a sleek white ash veneer or in lustrous hand-rubbed walnut, a finish that pays homage to Charles and Ray Eames’s original technique of production. The Aluminum Group covers more ground. Conceived by the Eameses as a multi-purpose design for indoor or outdoor use, the company has reconfigured the chairs with new hardware, satin graphite finishes, and outdoor suspension mesh, equipping them to perform as well in a conference room as on a private patio.
Don’t call concrete inflexible. The newest iteration of the material is more like the rubbery skin of a diving suit. A fabric impregnated with cement, Concrete Canvas was originally developed to build water- and fireproof emergency structures (dubbed “a building in a bag,” the sheath-like material hardens when you add water and air). But designer Philip Michael Wolfson, whose designs are avatars of material manipulation, has created a collection of furniture that harnesses the sculptural properties of the “textile.” Inspired by Tsukumogami, a type of Japanese spirit that animates objects, the designer “wrestled” the sheets of cement (it was like handling “a boa constrictor,” he says) into objects that look like a crushed milk carton, or mangled ice cream scoop, swelling with life. Wolfson’s first solo U.S. show opens at Industry Gallery in Washington, D.C., on March 17.
The most recent collection by Patricia Urquiola and Moroso re-imagines a classic mid-century silhouette. Their Silver Lake collection takes its cues, as well as its name, from the Los Angeles neighborhood that inspired a generation of architects half a century ago. Nodding to the dimensional rigor of the period, this collection of seating is both sculptural and deliberate: a geometric interplay of wood, leather, fabric, and steel, of solids, voids, and many-sided forms.
If all this travel makes your feet weary, leave the exhibition spaces behind for cyber-space, where two online marketplaces have caught our attention. At the first, interiorconnector.com, members gain access to a couple dozen leading-edge galleries and designers. Come to connect (not to shop) with the likes of Tucker Robbins, John Houshmand, City Joinery, and more, while gleaning tips on decor from venerable industry voices, including Jeffrey Bilhuber. At the second site, deringhall.com, you can put your wallet to work. Here, a slew of blue chip decorators and architects open their doors, so you can follow your favorites, read their stories, and shop their collections.