With the challenges of global travel post-pandemic a thing of the past, New York City’s Salon Art + Design this year marked the triumphant return of many of the salon’s exhibitors. “We were thrilled that we were able to hold the fair last year – one of the first after the pandemic, but I felt it was a little unfinished due to the number of galleries who couldn’t exhibit,” executive director Jill Bokor tells Effect, “so I’m very excited to have a number of our French exhibitors return – as well as a number of new French galleries – along with galleries from Sweden, China and the Middle East. It’s a very well-rounded presentation this year.”
Taking place in the Park Avenue Armory, the collective repertoire was as immersive as ever, with interior designer Amy Lau’s The Beauty of Brutalism showcase greeting guests at the entrance to the Drill Hall, the beauty of the items curated by Lau providing a polemic challenging our understanding of Brutalism.
This year’s show presented a few firsts, including an interior design collection by French designer Charles Zana and two new exhibitor galleries with specialities in glass (Glass Past and Heller Gallery) reinforcing the increased appetite for the design medium. “We’re always trying to be more inclusive,” says Bokor. “Collectible design is an ever-widening category, and we try to both show and influence that way of thinking.”
A number of themes emerged at the show, reinforcing its undeniable all-roundedness, extraordinary appeal and global relevance. Here are the key ones:
A fusion of style and genre
The salon itself presents a unique juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary art and design, with some galleries achieving a superlative mix of genres and styles within their own booths. Bokor tells us: “The salon is distinguished amongst designers, gallerists and aesthetes for its interest in creating interior environments that don’t necessarily favour one genre or style of design or another; and as a result, the salon is considered the only international fair of this caliber to make representation in art and design from antiquity through to the current day.”
Bokor continues: “What I love about today’s collectors is that they are less afraid to take risks than the collectors of 30 years ago. Collecting used to be deep, but not broad. Back then, people concentrated on Impressionist paintings, or 18th-century American furniture, or Art Deco. Today, people are unafraid to pair a master artist with an emerging one – or Bauhaus furniture with contemporary design – and the results are far more interesting than they used to be.”
Galleries that underscore Bokor’s sentiments include Magen H Gallery, which included some exceptional 1960s pine and plywood furniture pieces by French architect Hervé Baley, contrasted with a 1930s Maison Desny table lamp in glass and aluminium; and circa 1930s metal coatrack attributed to Robert Mallet Stevens with a 1970s metal sculpture by Roger Tallon.
Todd Merrill Studio presented collections that brought pieces together fashioned from a very broad suite of materials into perfection cohesion. “The exhibition was centred on the juxtaposition of disparate materials and surfaces,” explains Merrill. “Sleek lacquered finishes and luminous transparent resin stand in contrast to the natural textures of wood, cast bronze, and molded paper.” The studio paired cast bronze, stainless steel, and carved wood pieces by contemporary artist Alex Roskin with pieces by Italian duo Draga & Aurel, who specialise in works that blend coloured resins, concrete, bronze, and brass with metal pendants and chandeliers by Markus Haas.
Gabriel et Guillaume offered Brazilian modernist pieces in addition to 20th-century and mid-century modern design, which included the stunning Jean Royère Ecusson set of a sofa, three armchairs and a coffee table, resulting in one of the most compelling interior arrangements at the show. R & Company, renowned for championing extraordinary, collectible design, upped the ante by pulling seemingly disparate styles and genres into such a potent fusion at their booth. A show-stopping 1960s Jacaranda and glass credenza by Jorge Zalszupin was offset by contemporary works by Rogan Gregory and sculptural vessels by Jeff Zimmerman, Jolie Ngo, Katie Stout and Brad Miller. Converso’s booth was as immersive as ever, with a unique collection of pieces from the likes of Bruce Goff, George Nakashima and Norman Teague.
The chandelier effect
Whether it’s a response to a level of restraint exercised during the two-year pandemic, or a renewed interest in decorative lighting, the show appeared to feature a number of distinctive chandeliers and sculptural lighting elements. Examples included Sebastian Brajkovic’s The Mathematician #02 borosilicate glass and metal chandelier at David Gill Gallery, and Jonathan Trayte’s Velvet Solar Star at Friedman Benda – a striking piece fabricated from painted and powder-coated aluminum, reinforced plastics and flock.
Twenty First Gallery included Nathalie Ziegler Pasqua’s Autumnal Forest Chandelier, an incandescent suspension piece that functions equally as lighting and sculpture and is intricately crafted from individual slices of Verrerie de Saint-Just glass. Karl Zahn’s aluminum, brass and hand-painted acrylic fixture was a highlight at The Future Perfect, as was an Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti Schlesinger chandelier at Gabriel et Guillaume.
The undeniably stand-out lighting installation was the sculptural lighting by Klove Studio, a design practice founded by Prateek Jam and Gautam Seth in New Delhi, whose totemic works reference tribal icons and motifs in a thoroughly contemporary context.
Of the earth
The integration of precious gems and minerals into furniture and lighting is not an emerging trend per se but rather a developing one that seems to become ever more compelling. Galerie Negropontes presented a number of works by Gianluca Pacchioni including an extraordinary one-off console, Under The Sheets, made from Patagonia granite, glass and patinated brass. Their Névé series of sculptures by Perrin & Perrin are hewed from solid blocks of glass.
Le Lab (pictured near top), a Cairo-based design gallery originally founded in Lebanon in 2013, presented Omar Chakil’s raw Egyptian marble onyx (also known as Pharaonic alabaster) pieces which drew significant visitor attention.
First timer exhibitors, the Manhattan-based Wilensky Exquisite Mineral Gallery, presented a spectacular array of minerals, including never-before-seen emerald and opal specimens.
“Our pieces, mined by artisanal miners, come directly from the earth, unaltered in form and shape by the human hand,” Wilenksy brothers Troy and Connor tell Effect. “As such they are highly compelling, collectible objects.”
Ceramics still a tour de force – with glass in strong pursuit
J Lohmann, as ever, produced a stunning display of ceramics by various artists with a focus on Jongjin Park’s sculptural vessels. Hostler Burrows, known for presenting ceramics by both emerging and established ceramicists, included work by Heringa/Van Kalsbeek – in particular, their piece Trans Oceanic, fabricated from ceramic, resin and steel, along with Finnish artist Marianne Huotari’s Palsta (Garden Plot), a glazed stoneware piece, hand-sewn in the form of wall art.
Huotari’s iteration involves an intensive process of craftsmanship whereby hundreds of rectangular ceramic beads and petals are sculpted by hand and then sewn onto a metal frame with wire, referencing the traditional Finnish textile technique Ryijy – a method of loom-weaving tapestries. The booth at Heller Gallery was dominated by contemporary duo Libenský and Brychtová, whose sculptures are fabricated from cast glass and majestically fashioned into elegant form.