Collective Design Fair Throws a Few Curves

The Collective Design Fair returned to the Frieze-time fray this year, and we sent Nancy Lazarus to check out the new venue and the many curvaceous works on view.

Galerie BSL
A screen by Taher Chemirik was the undulating centerpiece of Galerie BSL’s booth at Collective.

International in scope yet moderate in scale, New York’s Collective Design Fair debuted last year “to provide new commercial and educational platforms for vintage and contemporary design,” according to Steven Learner, the fair’s creative director. The sophomore edition ran from May 8-11 in a new venue—Skylight at Moynihan Station—and added to existing strengths in Scandinavian design and ceramics with a new focus on wearable art. We chatted with some of the 36 exhibitors and joined a tour led by Cooper-Hewitt curator Sarah Coffin to round up five highlights.

Joseph Walsh, Enignum Canopy Bed, 3-562x748, 2013, Courtesy of Todd Merrill Studio ContemporaryTodd Merrill 20th Century Studio Contemporary, New York City: “A tour de force of woodworking” was Coffin’s apt description of Irish designer Joseph Walsh‘s Enignum Canopy Bed (at right), since it consists of ribbons of olive ash wood positioned on a raised platform. Walsh explained the craftsmanship involved in the accompanying materials: “In the Enignum series of works I have stripped wood into thin layers, manipulating and reconstructing them into free form compositions. The title derives from the Latin words ‘enigma’ (mystery) and ‘lignum’ (wood).”

Sienna Patti Gallery, Lenox, Massachusetts:Jacqueline Lillie‘s beaded jewelry plays off of Wiener Werkstätte, but is updated to be contemporary,” said Coffin. The French-born, Vienna-based designer works with materials including glass beads, corian, and stainless steel. “In addition to form and function, I also insist on flexibility,” Lillie has said. “That’s essential because all good jewelry should adapt to the wearer and be an extension of that person’s character.”

Bae Se Hwa, Steam 21, Walnut and Cow Hide Leather, Courtesy of Gallery Seomi
Gallery Seomi, Los Angeles, California: “Organic, flowing forms, thin slats of wood, with Scandinavian influence,” was Coffin’s take on Bae Se Hwa‘s bench, Steam 21 (above), part of a series of steam-bent benches and chairs. The Korean designer makes ten to twelve painstakingly produced pieces per year.

Sandra Davolio, Sculptural Vase, Porcelain, 2013, Courtesy of J. Lohmann GalleryJ. Lohmann Gallery, New York City: “Paperlike in texture with incredible colors and trims,” was how Coffin characterized Sandra Davolio‘s porcelain vases (one is pictured at right). The Italian-born artist lives in Denmark. Her website explains her plan: “Davolio uses the vessel and the vase as her starting point in an almost futuristic remake of the classic theme. The expression is Scandinavian, yet displaying an undertone of temperamental nerve.”

Moss Bureau, New York City: Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell presented a solo exhibit of Dutch design powerhouse Hella Jongerius. Among the mixed-medida works on view were her life-size jade green vase with stitching and a series of colorful “Quilted Vases.” As the exhibit materials noted, Jongerius’ work, “often embodying whimsy and her sense of humor, shows her exceptional ability to knit seemingly disparate and incongruous elements together to create a collective household.”

Writer Nancy Lazarus is a frequent contributor to UnBeige.