Quality and Understanding vs the Superstar Phenomenon

First Published March 2016

This past year we have been questioning the title ‘collectible design’. It seams to have come to stand for a very small, high-end part of the design market.

What we believe in and want to share and encourage is the understanding of the objects we invite into our lives. Objects tell stories about our values, aesthetic and aspirations.  These inanimate objects are incredibly social if we ‘listen’ to them.  They all speak of a time, a place, a point of view, an intention, and consequently represent certain values, goals and aesthetics. Engaging with them is a investment in ourselves. It is an investment in our collective material culture. It matters – because it is a statement, whether we are conscious of it or not, about what we stand for and believe to be important.

While we are still digesting Dr. Clare Andrew’s TEFAF Art Market Report for 2015, that was just released with the opening of this annual fair, we have noted that a main trend coming out of this report and from some of the companies analyzing it, such as Vastari, is what the report calls the ‘superstar phenomenon’.  This is the idea that certain artists/designers who have reached a superstar level status now guide the market. The public follows the name and the money, feeling safe buying a big name for a big ticket price. Likewise, this places museums and auction houses in a less risky position because they know that the big names/brands attract the most attention and will sell very well.  Vastari goes on to question whether, ” this strategy, both with auction houses and museums, is actually mitigating risk or just avoiding the more difficult job of education?” In our own talks with several auction house specialists recently we have been learning that indeed a few big names are driving the sales, which has lead to several cases where important objects have been overshadowed by this ‘superstar phenomenon’.

Educating ourselves about quality is the fun part! Discovering the skills and techniques used to create a work along  the stories that accompany great design is endlessly fascinating. This is what makes it a worthwhile endeavor!

And this is where the initial love that comes through beauty turns to something more sustaining.  The story of the objects connects with the story of your life.  This connection gives us the confidence to follow our instincts rather than the trends.

Next time you’re in Paris we would love to take you to see inspiring new design, in galleries, ateliers, markets or museums. What interests you? Let us know and we’ll tailor visits for you.

Have a great weekend!

~~

These are some photos from the design section at TEFAF this year. This fair has an independent committee that evaluates every single object that is presented at the fair for authenticity. It has such a strong global reputation for a reason! These objects are good studies of quality and grace.

DemischDanant30112015T192328.jpg

Cathedral table by Pierre Paulin (Paris 1927-2009 Montpellier)Aluminum and glass

Arc1122015T155119

Lamp, Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941), Cross-shaped entirely covered with mica
Stamped and numbered, Circa 1930

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Lustre Aomitsu #494 , Hervé Van Der Straeten, 2015, Anodized blue aluminium
Hauteur: 160 cm – cage : Ø 102.5 x H. 104 cm

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 2.51.08 PM

Pair of Deck Chairs, Hans Wegner (Made by cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen), 1958,  Oak, halyard, steel and canvas
73-91 x 187 x 62 cm (adjustable in height)

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