Since the millennium, the art fair landscape has morphed beyond recognition. The old powerhouse locations fight to defend their position against a roster of big-buzz pretenders, from Basel to Miami to Dubai. Patrick Perrin, a fourth-generation Parisian dealer, has seen these shifts from a ringside seat. Perhaps more importantly, he’s also part of a sea change in how both art and design are viewed. “Over the last 20 years,” he says, “we’ve worked very hard to raise the status of design to something more than a mere functional object. Today, a chair, a table, a lamp by a great designer is appreciated and valued as art. Recognition for the craftsmanship and creativity behind a piece of design no longer belongs to a clique of cognoscenti.”
It’s been 23 years since he launched the Pavillon des Antiquaires et des Galeries d’Art, a fair devoted to design and the decorative arts, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Inspired by cabinets de curiosités – a post-renaissance craze that saw collectors from Elias Ashmole to Peter the Great house their finds in elaborate mini-museums – the Pavillon was conceived as a showcase for an eclectic blend of art, antiques and contemporary design. It quickly evolved into a must-see annual event. In 2007, with its title updated to the snappier PAD (Pavillon des Arts et du Design), Perrin launched an equally popular version in London’s leafy Berkeley Square.
Most gallerists might have been happy with that. But Perrin launched a Swiss edition of PAD last February. This month he takes his roadshow to the Mediterranean for the first time, launching in Monaco. “After Paris and London,” he explains, “I was looking for other locations where I could bring design to new audiences.” With the four exhibitors profiled here, plus 22 others from across the US and Europe showcasing everything from ancient artefacts to contemporary furniture to luxury watches, PAD Monaco could well become another must-see art fair.
Exhibitors to watch at PAD Monaco
According to legend, Madame de Pompadour was responsible for setting up a collaboration between court painter François Boucher and the Manufacture Royale de Porcelain in Sèvres, inaugurating a tradition that’s attracted some of art’s heaviest hitters ever since. Auguste Rodin, Louise Bourgeois, Ettore Sottsass and Yayoi Kusama have all designed objects for the factory. And at Monaco, that list will stretch to include work by Argentinian artist Julio Le Parc, industrial designer Matali Crasset and rising star Arthur Hoffner.
For most of his career, Italian architect Achille Salvagni has flown under the mainstream radar; his is a name known to those who can afford his spectacular residential and yacht interiors (among them Tom Ford, Gisele Bündchen, Jeff Koons and Paul Simon). But six years ago, he branched out into furniture design, with an aesthetic that blends Italian modernism and a palette that couldn’t be more opulently Imperial Roman if it tried – slabs of cast bronze, sanded walnut, burnished brass, Rubelli velvet and backlit onyx, sliced into retro angles or sculpted.
Walid Akkad’s boutique on the Left Bank in Paris isn’t much likeother jewellery stores; instead of twinkling chandeliers, it’s an oasis of clean white lines and sturdy oak display tables. But then Lebanese-born Akkad isn’t much like most other jewellers. His minimalist pieces foreground the beauty of the materials he uses, from bracelets twisted out of brushed gold, to rings set with oversized bubbles of quartz, moonstone, spessartite or chalcedony, to tourmaline beads strung together like a candy necklace.
Gabrielle Ammann has been representing artists, architects, photographers and designers for over 30 years (for the last 13, via her own gallery space in Cologne). And that crossover between disciplines shows in Ammann’s eclectic lineup for Monaco – a roster that ranges from Zaha Hadid’s rippling silver vases, to brush-wrapped furniture by Mexican design duo Ad Hoc, to large-scale prints by photographer Hélène Binet. Perhaps the standout this season is a selection of cast pieces by Italian design collective Studio Nucleo, which submerge objects from tree trunks to Thonet chairs in jewel-like blocks of fractured resin.
• PAD Monaco runs from 26-28 April.
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