PAD Design-and-Art fair returns to London after a two-year break – bigger and better than ever
“The London design scene has always been vibrant,” said Parisian art dealer Patrick Perrin, “from the Design Museum and groundbreaking Victoria & Albert exhibitions, which mix disciplines in radical and experimental ways, to architecture , design and art from world-renowned schools such as the Royal College of Art, Royal Academy Schools and Central Saint Martins.
Of course there is also BUFFER London (until October 16, 2022), the most important design and art fair founded by Perrin, whose 14th edition open to the public today in Berkeley Square. The fair’s usual tent venue has had a facelift – its raised ceilings create a more airy experience for visitors, while underscoring PAD’s ambitious return after two years of online-only offerings.
There are 21 new exhibitors participating this year, bringing the total number to 62, with a range of fine design and jewelry. New entries to the week-long fair include the Beirut-born, now New York-based gallery Gabriel and William; Spazio Nobile from Brussels; London dealer Melissa Paul; and Philippe Gravel, Parisian House, Ceramic nowand Shahanall from France.
“It’s a organized gathering of the world’s visionary gallerists and design makers, driven by a common goal of championing exceptional work, new talent, innovation and craftsmanship,” Perrin told Artnet News.
At the VIP preview, the tent was filled with collectors, design professionals and the art world in town for Frieze. Switching easily between English and French in their conversations, the crowd meandered through the aisles, observing eye-catching objects such as Randy PolumboThe biomorphic glass accent lamp from newcomer fair Cristina Grajales from New York; the elegant modernist Nordic furniture of Stockholm’s theatrically designed stand Modernity Gallery; and even a Jackson Pollock themed room divider by designers Dino Gavina and Kazuhide Takahamaoffered by the local gallery portuondo.
The energy of the event seemed to prove Perrin’s view that “although more is being bought online, we also know that ultimately seeing and experiencing art in real life is the key”.
In addition to allowing design enthusiasts to discover new talent, the fair offers seasoned dealers prime real estate to showcase their top-notch products. The power station born in London Gallery of the carpenters’ workshopfor example, took over two stands, one of which was entirely dedicated to jewelry designed by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Rachid Johnsonand Robert Longon.
Gallery co-founder Loïc Le Gaillard said this new venture with art stars was organic: “They wanted to use jewelry to express their ideas and push boundaries to a new level.” Sherman, for example, translated some of his iconic self-portraits into quartz or pearl earrings, decorated with gold accents; while an adaptation of Johnson’s “Anxious Men” series adorns a gold ring.
The gallery’s additional presence at the fair coincides with the announcement of Ladbroke Hall, a multipurpose space in a turn-of-the-century townhouse that will open next spring in upscale Notting Hill, with amenities such as a a restaurant and a theater. And Le Gaillard was actually instrumental in bringing the fair from the French capital to the UK, having noticed “the demand and appetite for diverse artistic expression in London”.
Such art-driven design is echoed in the gallery’s main stand, where British artist and designer Paul CocksedgeThe minimalist yet captivating chandelier hangs like an open notebook, its pages blowing in the wind. Other works that catch your eye include Australian designer Charles Trevelianthe tree-shaped patinated bronze table, and the Greek artist Niko Koronisconsole in black marble of strangely dark mazy.
Another local taste maker, Adrian Sassoon, brought what he describes as “an alluring range of contemporary artwork” created in a variety of mediums including ceramic, glass, silver and gold. His gallery is known for its ornate exhibitions, in which objects are set in ornately decorated domestic settings, contrasting the contemporary with the classic. Sassoon followed a similar approach for their booth at PAD, with a hallucinatory lightscape installation titled wildflower meadow by London-based design duo Vezzini and Chenas well as new works by the Japanese master goldsmith, Hiroshi Suzuki.
The Milan stand Nilufar Gallery also reflects its founder Nilufar Yashar’s strong connection with art objects. “I’ve always been fascinated by the art world, but most of my collection and inventory consisted of designer pieces,” she said. The gallery stand rightly associates the British artist Jonathan Milking with an Italian designer Ruggero Moncada di Paterno. Describing himself as “a firm believer in the aesthetic and cultural power of unexpected blends”, Yashar’s juxtaposition also includes mid-century objects with examples from Brazilian designers, such as Branco & Presto, Moveis Cimo, Jorge Zalszupinand Martin Eisler and Carlo Hauner.
During the preview day, prizes were awarded to the stands for the best contemporary design, the best historical design and the best stands. A jury led by Yana Peel, head of art and culture at Chanel and London-based designer Francois Sultane selected Jose Pleenikarmchair in black lacquered beech, Elza (1932-33) to Patrick Fourtinfor the best historic design, while the best stands went to Parisian exhibitors Wa design and Jacques Lacoste. Meanwhile, the Italian furniture manufacturer Francesco Perini was crowned Best Contemporary Design for its Casamona table (2022) to Fumi GalleryThe stall.
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