Salon Art + Design 2020
based on needs and tastes. “Twenty-five years ago, Europe owned the design market,” he says. “This shifted to the US, where individuals and institutions built great collections. American museums remain one of the strongest and most dedicated markets for design, but, more recently, Asia has emerged as important. This has expanded the range of options, but also the set of needs, and tastes for designers, as clients now come from all over.” To get an impression of how the market is performing now, we can turn to the data. Artnet has perhaps the world’s largest, most accurate dataset for secondary market auction sales of art, design, and the decorative arts. Like other databases, Artnet only tracks transactions at auction and therefore it reflects a certain market interest and perspective and must be taken as one of many relevant indicators. Design is also an amorphous hybrid category, constantly evolving, that is not always reflected in an auction house or database taxonomy: Artnet divides data between a fine art and design database, and a decorative art database, though curiously Les Lalanne, Jean Royère, Gio Ponti, George Nakashima, and others appear in both sets. The data shows that the auction market for collectible design is growing rapidly, both in terms of the top prices paid and in sales volume measured by dollar value. Looking at the past 18-month period of 2019–20, 13 designers have already achieved over $5 million in total auction sales. This is a dramatic increase on the available figures from 2018. The challenges facing the international art and design world over the past year seem not to have dampened demand at the high end of the market. At Christie’s in Paris on June 30, 2020, during the height of the global pandemic, an unusual, six-light fixture by Jean Royère sold for $1,763,846 with premium, in an auction record for the artist. During the same sale, three more works by Jean Royère sold for over $1 million, including, separately, a couch and a pair of matching lounge chairs. The success of the Christie’s sale follows similarly strong recent results at design auctions in Paris, London, and New York, especially for Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, who have achieved success as designers but also as sculptural artists in the international art and museum world. At Sotheby’s Paris on October 24 2019, Choupatte (Tres Grand) from the collection of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne sold for $2,410,674.
English designer Faye Toogood had her second solo show at Friedman Benda in 2020. Courtesy: Friedman Benda and Faye Toogood. Photo: Philip Sinden