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The figure repeatedly quoted in informal discussions with dealers about past, current, and future trends in the design market is that sales of design objects at art fairs made up between 25% and 50% of annual revenue for many galleries in the years before the pandemic. Regional dealers have been the hardest hit by the cancellation of physical fairs, as they relied on their convening power to meet with and replenish clients. Fairs were the place to see and be seen. But nobody has been immune to the fallout from the pandemic, which many continue to experience in myriad ways, including restricted visitation at galleries and canceled exhibitions, fundraisers, and travel. By now, most of us who love design have begun to embark on online shopping excursions. I have bought things – a chair by Elisabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti, and a vessel by Claude Conover, the mostly self-taught ceramicist from Pittsburgh who walked away from a career in graphic design and dedicated himself to ceramics at age 55. In the event that I have trouble sleeping, the internet can be an especially dangerous place for those of us with an insatiable passion for beautiful things. In truth, the design market was already online and the pandemic has accelerated that process, along with other trends in the wider market. Sotheby’s Home, Chairish, 1stDibs, Incollect, Etsy, LiveAuctioneers, and Invaluable remain popular resources, while auction houses, at a lightning pace, have adapted to online sales, outdoor appraisals, digital vetting and appointment-only previews and visits with specialists. Their clients, after an initial nervousness, have also migrated online. Today’s internet of things is a wonderful tool if you know what you are looking for, but it does not allow the kind of serendipity of a visit to an actual gallery or fair, where a variety of physical objects housed under one roof enables visitors to connect with things they didn’t necessarily know that they wanted. Not surprisingly, branded designers and vintage masters do well online, as buyers tend to know what they are getting and have some assurance of quality and authenticity. For gallerists who deal in the vintage market, recent times even before Covid have not seen a straightforward trajectory. “As someone who has been dealing design for almost 30 years now, it’s been a very interesting market to watch evolve,” says Paul Donzella. “With regards to what I personally represent, I can say without a doubt

Salon Art + Design 2020

Profile for Sanford L. Smith + Associates

Salon - The Intersection of Art + Design