Tag Archives: 2016

Highlights from SALONE DEL MOBILE, 2016

Now in its 55th year, Milan’s Salone Del Mobile is the biggest and longest running global design event. Spread over six days, this year’s edition saw 300,000 visitors converge on Italy’s industry capital to attend over 22,000 exhibitions and over 1,000 events. A veritable festival of design, each of these exhibitions represents a launchpad for the latest collections and concepts by many of the finest artisans in the world.

Shunning the traditional practice whereby designers just display their latest work, here in Milan every effort has been made to encapsulate a complete and immersive experience. Even the restaurants, which Milan is not short of, have been engineered to provide a showcase for new and exciting work. This year the spotlight was on Tom Dixon, who has collaborated with stone specialist Caesarstone to create their unique take on dining out. Located in the late baroque church, La Rotonda Della Besana, their installation features four futuristic kitchens inspired by the elements of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air; with each theme accompanied by a corresponding dining hall.

In a similar vein, British designer Lee Broom has taken a decidedly unorthodox approach this year. His latest collection, Optical, was presented via a delivery van nicknamed the ‘Salone Del Automobile.’ Over the festival, the van moved between a variety of hotspots around the city, stopping at the Brera Design District, Zona Torona, and Spazio­ Rossana Orlandi. Those who managed to track down the wandering installation were invited to step into the back of the van and experience Broom’s interpretation of an Italian palazzo complete with his new range of monochrome floor and pendant lights. “I wanted to make the same impact as last year but without creating a huge installation,” Broom says. “While deciding where to exhibit, I thought: what about everywhere?”

Every facet of the design industry is celebrated here. From Salone Satellite, a platform for young designers and now in its 19th year, and Space & Interiors, which focusses on architecture, to the International Bathroom Expo; the extent and range on show mean it is impossible to see everything. We present our shortlist among the happenings during the most important week in design.

 

1. DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES FOR HERMAN MILLER 

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One of the most popular launches was Michael Anastassiades’ first furniture collection for US company Herman Miller. Known for his minimalist lighting range, the London-based designer has produced a collection of stools alongside tables and large-scale versions of his mobile-style lights at the Herman Miller showroom in Milan. 

Working to create pieces that reflect Miller’s reputation for timeless pieces, the stools have been stripped to their bare fundamentals. Each one has been crafted from solid timber and features one leg in brass: a finish that appears regularly throughout Anastassiades’ lighting range. While further variations will be available at a later date, these first editions have been produced in American Oak or Walnut: materials which allow the stools to acquire a unique character over time. 

Titled ‘The Double Dream of Spring’, a reference to a 1915 painting by 20th-century Italian metaphysical artist Giorgio de Chirico, the installation was housed in the Herman Miller showroom on Corso Garibaldi.

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2.    THE NEXT GENERATION OF DANISH DESIGN: MINDCRAFT 

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Now in its eighth year, Minecraft returns to Salone Del Mobile under the guidance of celebrated design duo GamFatesi. Focussed on showcasing new and original works by some of Denmark’s most talented craftspeople and designers, the latest edition was held at the Circle Filologica in central Milan. 

This year’s theme sought to add another dimension to the exhibition by paying homage to the host building’s heritage. Titled, “In My Mind Craft’, GamFratesi explains their concept: “Like last year, we have chosen a historical venue for the MINDCRAFT exhibition: the Circolo Filologico in the center of Milan. This institution studies the origins of texts and literature, and driven by the notion of tracing the origins of a project, an idea, thought; we looked to historical ideas about the human brain as a source of inspiration for our exhibition concept. The designers and craftspeople selected to take part in MINDCRAFT16 have each interpreted the theme “In My Mind Craft” in their individual works.”

Presented by the Danish Arts Foundation, those participating included Benandsebastian, Anne Dorthe Vester and Maria Bruun, Christina Schou Christensen.

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3.   STANDOUT EXHIBITION: SOU FUJIMOTO’S ‘FOREST OF LIGHT’ FOR COS

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By far the biggest showstopper of the week was architect Sou Fujimoto’s Forest of Light installation for fashion label COS. Exploring the concept of interaction and perspective, Fujimoto has transformed a former theatre with towering cones of light that respond to visitors’ movements.

Here, light is used as an architectural material with the series of conical spotlights arranged to represent abstract tree formations. The forest effect is enhanced by mirrored walls surrounding the installation which help create the illusion of an infinite landscape. A combination of fog and specially composed sounds provide the surreal ambience, all adding to Fujimoto’s immersive experience.

“In this installation for COS, I envisage to make a forest of light,” said Fujimoto. “A forest which consists of countless light cones made from spotlights above. These lights pulsate and constantly undergo transience of state and flow. People meander through this forest as if lured by the charm of the light. Light and people interact with one another, its existence defining the transition of the other.”

Located at the Via Pietro Masgani 8, the exhibition represents COS’ fifth showing at Salone Del Mobile. Since 2011, COS have commissioned an architecture or design studio to create an installation. Previous projects have included collaborations with Nendo in 2014 and Snarkitecture last year.

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4.    TREND WATCH: CHINESE DESIGN

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Salone Del Mobile’s profile was significantly raised in the Chinese market with the official launch of their latest satellite exhibition coming to Shanghai in November. As a result, it comes as no surprise to see an influx of Asian design houses taking the opportunity to show their latest product lines in Milan, including Neri&Hu and Stellar Works.

Hong Kong designer André Fu presented his new ‘Tac/Tile’ collection of bespoke handblown lights (below). Created in collaboration with the Czech Republic-based glass manufacturer Lasvit, the project marks a return to the Hong Kong-based designer’s architectural roots. The series of lamps, each featuring a 23mm-thick seamless fold of handblown glass and paired with a minimalist matt-bronze frame, are part of what Fu describes as his ‘exploration of the materiality of glass.’

Further examples were shown in the ‘Alamak! Design in Asia’ exhibition which brought together 12 designers in hopes of making a “contemporary impression on the perception of what design in Asia is.” 

Elsewhere, Superstudio Piu hosted an exhibition titled ’Tradition in Evolution’, which featured some show stopping pieces including Frank Jiang’s White Moon vanity and Qiang Yu’s Screen (above).

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A Definitive Guide to Collecting Art

The process of collecting art has until recently been a privilege to the few with means or connections. Over the past decade or so the industry has seen significant changes granting greater transparency for both the artists and collector. The move from galleries and auction houses to online platforms means it is easier than ever to gain access into this previously guarded world. With new artists being discovered and new markets emerging (particularly South Korea and China) this is the perfect time to begin your journey.

Never the less there are a few elements you need to consider before you start. We present the four essential stages required to starting your collection:

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

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The process of buying art falls mainly into two approaches: either finding and acquiring a piece that you love on the spot or via visiting exhibitions and by keeping abreast of what is happening in the market. Whist the former is more prevalent, the process of educating yourself allows for a more informed and confident final decision. 

Visiting exhibitions and fairs is the best way to start, and we are privileged in London to have a selection of the finest in the world. However, if the emerging market grabs your attention, then graduate shows are an excellent way to begin collecting an artist from the very beginning of their career – a prospect which is both exciting and perhaps, maybe even lucrative in years to come.  

Exhibitions: Frieze, Affordable Art Fair, PAD, Masterpiece, Pinta, LAPADA Art and Antiques Fair, Moniker Art Fair

Galleries: Ransom Gallery, Pace London, Gagosian, Lisson, White Cube, Victoria Miro, Johnny Van Haeften, Saatchi

Graduate Exhibitions: Royal College of Art (RAC), University of the Arts, Slade School of Fine Art, Central St Martins, Chelsea College of Arts.

2. WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVE?

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BUYING FOR LOVE

People buy art for many reasons, but primarily for two reasons: the piece itself or for the investment potential. More commonly, though, art is purchased because of the emotion it evokes in the buyer. It has been widely accepted that fine e art holds a certain power over people, although this effect is not universal. Whilst some are more affected by the classical works such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David, others are drawn to the more abstract works by Pollock or Hirst. 

Interestingly UCL completed a study in 2011 seeking to “see what happens in the brain when you look at beautiful paintings.” Subjects were shown a range of paintings from a selection of 28 works that included Monet, Constable and Reni, whilst undergoing an MRI scan that analysed the blood flow in the”medial orbitofrontal cortex, part of the brain associated with pleasure and desire” (Mendick). 

The results were instantaneous and as expected, varied from one subject to another. Zeki explains, ”what we found was the increase in blood flow was in proportion to how much the painting was liked……the blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love”. So there you have it: buying art that resonates with you has proven psychological benefits.

INVESTMENT 

Buying art as an investment is a path well trodden and one increasingly difficult to make profitable. However, anyone can buy art intelligently. Here are three key questions that need to be satisfied before you close the deal:

1. Who is the artist?

Research who you are buying. Information usually comes in two forms: spoken and written. Spoken information will come from those directly involved with the sale (the dealer and the artist) or from others in the know. The written or published information is the most key. Research the artist through their websites, gallery websites, auction houses and other publications.  These are usually available from the galleries themselves or easily accessed via the internet.

The combination of the two will ensure that you are well informed and in a better position to make the purchase.

2. How significant is the art?

Knowing where a particular piece sits within an artists’ career or collection is key. Understanding whether your desired work is a ‘minor’ or ‘major’ player in their portfolio will help you ascertain the correct value.

Always check whether it is original or reproduction. If it is a print, then it is integral to understand whether it is a limited edition and if so how many are produced? If it is a limited edition, then check whether it is generated by the artist or by mechanical means as often reproductions (particularly glicees) are are digital creations with no input from the artist save a signature.

3. Provenience, history and documentation

Always ensure that you have the proper documentation relating to the artwork. The gallerists should be able to tell you of the previous owners (if any) and trace this back to the original sale. Failure to ensure that all accompanying documentation is correct at the time of sale may cause the value to reduce.

EMERGING MARKETS

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Emerging markets have provided a platform allowing new talent artists to showcase their work. This is particularly evident in the comparatively untapped regions of Eastern Europe, South Korea and China which are producing some of the most exciting talents today. MA graduates from these parts of the world are the best place to start as they are only just beginning their careers – you have to catch them early to profit!

Whilst this may not be the drive for some, the thought of picking up the future Pollock or Lichenstein for many is very much part of the journey. 

ALLOW YOUR COLLECTION TO EVOLVE

You shouldn’t think of your collection as static. “Your taste changes. The more educated you are, you start to look at things differently,” says Laura Noble, gallerist and author of the Art of Collecting Photography. She adds that one should “be prepared to part ways….when the time comes and let someone else fall in love with it.”

3. A GUIDE TO PHOTOGRAPHY

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“Photography is a love affair with life.” Burk Uzzle, 1938

One of the mediums that have become increasingly collectable in recent years is photography. Historically considered inferior to art regarding price and as such is a fantastic place to start your collection. This trend has changed over the past few years as collectors have become more educated in turn raising artists’ profiles, this medium remains an emerging market – bringing with it the excitement of untapped potential that many collectors crave. Remember: by investing in early-career photographers, you’re investing in the future of the medium.

What type of photograph is it?

From the almost extinct Polaroid to the digitally manipulated or even C-type, photographs vary considerably. Understanding the differences between these mediums and how they are developed will help you make a better end decision.

What does Limited Edition or AP mean?

Art’s commercial value stems from its rarity, but photography is inherently easy to reproduce. The limited edition has been developed to deal with this problem. It’s essentially a pledge by the photographer or their estate that no more than a certain number of prints of a given image will be made – ever. An edition can be anything from two to 500 or more. The fewer prints in the edition, the higher their worth.

The letters AP signify that the artist has elected to reserve a number of proofs for their personal use. These will be in addition to the overall number of prints detailed in the ‘limited edition’ figure.

Is it a one off?

Occasionally and if you are lucky enough, artists will offer unique photographs or ‘one-offs’. These are usually highly prized with this being reflected in the price.

4. CURATING YOUR COLLECTION

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How you arrange your collection is entirely up to you and the wall space you have available. Here are some tips to help you maximise the impact of your artwork. 

Pride of Place:

Usually, the finest works of a collection are placed in the most significant areas of the home. Above the fireplace or in the dining room, the more striking pieces are typically found in the areas used for entertaining.

Hallways: 

Hallways are a great place to show off your collection. Opting to hang on one side helps to create a widening effect on the passage. Similarly, mirrors can be added to increase the viewpoints and enhance the overall arrangement.

Bedrooms:

As the most intimate area of the house, this should be reserved for the pieces that you truly love. Equally, the choice of artwork should promote a calming and tranquil atmosphere – think ethereal photography, abstract paintings in dusty pastels or large scale landscapes.

Theme:

Whether you choose to do this by size, medium, palette or artist is a question of taste and desired intent. A centralised theme creates a coherence between the pieces, adding more impact to the space. Similarly, the content can be used to tell a story, and adds a further layer of detail.

These elements, when properly considered and executed, can help transform your home into a space which not only reflects your individuality but can also add a significant impact on your wellbeing. Art should alway be seen as an extension of the overall interior design, and a finely curated collection will elevate your home to its maximum potential.