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On the Market

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that Italian design has been experiencing a significant period of interest that continues to grow stronger.” Needless to say, the growth of interest is not solely in European designers. As Donzella says, “We are also seeing a surge of interest in pieces by Philip & Kelvin LaVerne. We primarily only handle the very rarest of this American studio’s output. And the unique and small-edition works have been gaining popularity, and prices have been on the rise.” This is testament to the importance of trusted gallerists who are able to secure the finest objects. The contemporary design market, too, is also very much in the hands of the galleries, where dealers have the time, commitment, and expertise to promote and discover today’s diverse and exciting new global talent, sometimes even fresh out of design college. Contemporary design dealers tend to be interested in doing shows and presenting a body of objects by a single creator rather than selling off a piece at a time to the highest bidder. They treat design as sculpture, as art, enter into and out of the art market and art fairs and, much like art dealers, they want to tell a story about objects, develop a narrative that informs a process of making, and build a relationship with the creator who they can support and work with over a long period of time. They support publications on the designers, garner press coverage, and work with institutions on acquisitions, loans, and museum shows. Primary material research is popular with designers today, as is a desire to build their own machines to make handmade things. Marc Benda of Friedman Benda in New York points to the young English designer Faye Toogood, who staged her second solo show at the gallery this fall. She makes functional cast furniture, each based on a rough-hewn sculptural maquette made of corrugated paper or crumpled masking tape, that simultaneously disguises and reveals its sculptural origins and materials. “The show has done well,” Benda said. “We’ve had some institutional purchases and sold to clients in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia.” We live in a time of great creativity and opportunity for those prepared to look and learn, says Benda. The geographical location of the design market has shifted, he points out, widening choices (Left) Jean Royère, Polar Bear sofa, 1962. Sold at Christie’s Design auction in 2020 for €1,090,000. Photo: Christie’s Images (Opposite) François-Xavier Lalanne and Manufacture De Sèvres, Les Autruches Bar, 1967–70. Sold at Sotheby’s Jacques Grange | Collectionneur auction in 2017 for $7,288,098. Photo: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

Profile for Sanford L. Smith + Associates

Salon - The Intersection of Art + Design