Gallery directors take us behind the design, sharing the stories that led to the works on view this week.
Belgian gallery Victor Hunt represents work by Humans Since 1982, Johannes Hemann and Raw Edges. Here, gallery founder and director Alexis Ryngaert tells us about one of the works he’s expecially excited about showing at his first Design Miami/ fair. “The Shift — a glass side table made with a unique and unprecedented glass manufacturing technique — is blown solely from one piece and in one single operation.
Inspired by formal elements and details usually found in industrially produced blown plastic products, its complexity not only lies in the way it is made, but mainly in its shapes, which are unnatural and unusual for glassblowing; the base is oblong and the top is racket-shaped. The result is a very simple yet highly elaborate piece, which looks different from every angle. Manufacturing such a design was made possible thanks to a specially developed steel mold with complex moving parts—and the skills of four highly experienced glassblowers. It took us three years to develop the technology.”
Gallery owner Gabrielle Ammann talks about her role as a design dealer and the greatest challenges she faces with her namesake gallery.
How do you define the role of a dealer?
“I see myself not only as finding the perfect piece for collectors, but also helping them place the works in a way that enhances the experience of the object and the space.”
What is the greatest challenge you face in the gallery?
“Making people understand that all of the categories within design should have a permanent dialogue and should not be seen separately. I do not differentiate between architecture, design, fashion or fine art. I celebrate the cross-pollination of creativity and ideas.”
“Design and art collectors in general are going for special commission pieces. This has been the direction over the last decade and the greatest change in the collectible design landscape.” — Aurelie Julien, director
A major force in contemporary and collectible design, Galerie Kreo returns to Design Miami/ for the seventh year. Gallery owners Didier and Clémence Krzentowski talk about industry shifts, irresistible jewelry and the next wave of young talent.
On collectors: “Collectors are more and more interested in design, and their demand for quality is also higher. The link between art and design is stronger, and in many cases the pieces co-exist in personal spaces.”
On new talent: “We’re showing our first collaboration with young designer Jean-Baptiste Fastrez, which is ‘The Mask,’ a collection of three mirrors. We’re also showing a new solo show by Wieki Somers in March, whose work is evolving in a wonderful way, acquiring more maturity and strength.”
On your wish list: “More lamps!” (Didier); “Necklaces from our first exhibition of jewelry ‘Around the Neck,’ which will offer original pieces by designers and artists. I know I will be unable to resist the temptation of saving a few for me personally.” (Clémence)
In addition to works by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand and Jean Royère, Magen H. Gallery is showing a mini- exhibition of La Borne ceramics at Design Miami/. Hugues Magen, co-owner of the gallery, shares the story of this rare collection of ceramic masterpieces.
How did you begin collecting La Borne ceramics?
“Over the years I’ve collected more than 100 pieces. This work fascinated me from the start; I was touched by the composition, the color, the clay, the forms. The more I learned about it, the more involved I became.”
And how long have you been amassing this collection?
“The exhibition and book are the culmination of 10 years of work and research. It’s seldom that you find these pieces. I’m like an archaeologist, and in the process, I’ve met many of the protagonists of the movement. It’s been an incredible journey.”
I imagine it will be difficult to part with some of these pieces.
“It will be. For sure. I have a fundamental love for every object I choose. But, it’s the story of the dealer: We rescue a masterpiece and put it back on the pedestal.”
Since opening in Philadelphia in 1984, Moderne Gallery has quietly built a reputation as the foremost dealer of George Nakashima. Showing for the first time at Design Miami/, gallery founder Robert Aibel tells us about his role as a dealer.
“Essentially, I’m a curator and an educator. As a curator, I need to pick the best works possible that re- flect the body of work of a particular artist or a particular movement. As an educator, I need to find ways to open people’s eyes to work that they either don’t know about or need to know more about.”
Chicago’s Volume Gallery is participating in Design On/Site, where it will be showing the work of Snarkitecture, the New York-based studio of artist Daniel Arsham and architect Alex Mustonen, who designed the playful entranceway to the fair’s tent. Here, Claire Warner, the gallery’s co-owner and director, talks to us about the importance of American design.
On providing a platform: “We see Volume as a place for designers and architects to experiment. Our role is to provide a platform for these experiments and connect them to new audiences. We choose designers and architects that contribute to the discourse of what it means to be an American designer in a global community.”
On getting started: “Sam Vinz and I met working at Wright. We both had the opportunity to work in the auction world during the boom of contemporary design. There was such a thriving community during that time period and an incredible enthusiasm for the idea of the future, pushing boundaries of form and material. I think this informed our decision to start a gallery with a specific focus on American design, with an emphasis on emerging contemporary.”
On your radar: “Jonathan Muecke and Thaddeus Wolfe. We have been gravitating toward designers with a studio practice who push not only the boundaries of material, but also how we think about what is considered to be design.
A first-time participant in Design On/Site, Erastudio Apartment-Gallery is presenting a new piece by Gaetano Pesce, America Table and Jefferson Chair.
“Pesce’s designs are not only functional, but also have a cultural aspect,” says owner Patrizia Tenti. “In this case, Pesce’s project — which was commissioned for Design Miami/, which starts one month after the presidential election — pays homage to the United States. I consider it an homage from my gallery as well on the occasion of our first participation at the fair.”
“I’m not young anymore, and I learned that it’s not so important to chase new desires, but it is more important to try to desire what we already have. However, I hope that art and design will continue to disturb and disconcert in those unexpected ways that force us to look at our world — and at things in general — with a new pair of eyes.” — Adriano Berengo
Patrick Parrish, founder of Mondo Cane, a first-time Design Miami/ participant, shares his enthusiasm for ROLU, whose work will be on view at the fair. “I am psyched to be showing ROLU’s Nature/Nurture pieces in Miami for the first time. It is a set of plywood units that can be benches, tables or stacked either vertically or horizontally to form shelves. I love their geometry and their ability to morph and change from one form and function into another. Every time you stack them, new forms appear. They are magical in that way.”
“Jewelry is not a necessity like a chair. When clients ask for prices before a show has even opened, you know you are doing the right thing,” says Caroline Van Hoek. “But the same people who look for a unique table or chair now seek the value of a unique piece of jewelry in the same way.”
- Tali Jaffe