Rabih Hage Interior Design.jpg

Design Beyond Luxury by Emma Crichton-Miller

From the 2012 DeTnk Collectible Market Report

The second DeTnk report emerges at an interesting time for collectible design. On the one hand, the financial crisis appears to be deepening, with consequences for discretionary spending likely to be felt globally. On the other, the art market seems to rise ever higher above the fray, drawing the wealthy to invest with increasing enthusiasm in what appears a safe haven for capital. In this context, collectible design rests on the cusp: does it count as a luxury, an unnecessary though delightful flourish or adjunct to wealth? Or does it count as a repository of wealth, both cultural and financial, potentially a sound investment, but also a means of engaging with a central current of twentieth century and contemporary thought?

With the astonishing prices achieved for some iconic pieces of collectible design by the big names - Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Carlo Mollino, Eileen Gray - it can sometimes appear as if design has become subsumed into a notional luxury life-style, trumpeted in expensive glossy magazines and valued because it is expensive, rather than expensive because it is valued. This idea is sup- ported by anecdotal reports from the sales rooms of interior designers bulk buying pieces by prestigious designers to fill the homes of their clients. It is as if no contemporary interior worth its price tag is complete without a New- son sofa, Arad chair or shelving by Zaha Hadid. This is partly the nature of
the beast of course. As Alexander Payne,World Wide Director of Design at Phillips de Pury & Company expresses it,“We attract both collectors of design and people seeking to furnish their homes - that differentiates us from other departments.” As the very wealthy seek increasingly to define themselves through the exclusivity of their bespoke interiors, so unique and limited edition design comes increasingly to take the place that mere luxury once occupied.

To set against this fact, however, Simon Andrews, Christie’s Director and Specialist of 20th Century Decorative Arts & Design, makes the obvious point, that “people have choice, they don’t have to buy these things.” What has been remarkable about the rise of the collectible design market, both through galleries and at auction, as far as he is concerned, is that “the fluidity of wealth has not been solely anchored in domestic, industrial objects, but in objects rather that articulate a vision or spirit in a way analogous to fine art.” He recognises in the highest prices achieved for iconic pieces the maturing of confidence about which pieces have permanent value, which, as he puts it, “speak to their moment in time.” These pieces are not luxuries, as such, but cultural objects, valued like paintings or sculpture.

This gathering consensus about what has lasting value, is partly the consequence of growing knowledge. If you look back over the last ten years or so, one of the most startling phenomena has been the steady rise of scholarly interest in design, the increasing profile of design within museums, auction houses and art fairs, and the proliferation of writing about design. Collect
ible design has undoubtedly been given a boost by its appearance alongside Fine Art at Design Miami and Design Miami Basel and in contexts such as the Pavilion of Art and Design, the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) and the Biennale des Antiquaires. Here the work fostered over many years by galleries such as David Gill is introduced to a wider audience, alongside the products
of newer galleries like London’s Carpenters’ Workshop Gallery and Gallery Fumi. Alongside the work of dedicated design galleries such as Rabih Hage and Aram, the exhibition of contemporary design by fine art galleries such as Gagosian, WhiteCube and Albion has helped develop new audiences. Initiatives such as The Design Fund, set up by Yana Peel to enable the V&A to purchase and exhibit exemplary pieces, and the special commissions that form part of the London Design Festival, all help raise the profile of outstanding cutting edge design. The exhibitions curated by Janice Blackburn at Sotheby’s of contemporary designers have helped bring the work of recent graduates to new audiences, and place them within a developing tradition, while the Barbican has entered the fray alongside the Design Museum to mount outstanding exhibitions of both historical and contemporary design.

Whilst design still occupies an awkward niche in the mainstream British media, therefore, midway between consumer interest and creative discipline, collectible design is increasingly regarded as a legitimate medium for the communication of ideas about the era we live in. As such, as a category, it has not stood still. Alexander Payne reports that their recent Nordic Sale saw world records broken for Poul Henningsen, Axel Salto, Vilhelm Lauritzen and Kaj Gottlob, among others, finding new audiences for these designers. Marianne Goebl, of Design Miami, reports that far from growing timid in the recession, collectors are showing new interest in architectural structures, in conceptual jewellery and large lighting installations. As she put it, while buyers at Design Miami and Design Miami Basel have a wide range of motives and tastes, there are undoubtedly “connoisseur collectors, who buy beyond rational need.” All acknowledge that what counts now, in an increasingly international market, is quality. As Payne remarks, “Although the sense of what is collectible has broadened, as the global economy has suffered, so collectors have grown more rigorous. Provenance and investment potential have come to matter more, which is why mid-century French designers, Art Deco and great modernists are doing so well.”

In all, despite the potentially dampening effect of the recession, collectible design shows signs of evolving beyond the luxury market. Instead it has become increasingly an informed choice of people who, whilst desiring quite simply to live with beautiful things, wish also to engage through the pieces they buy with the visual culture of their own and previous eras.








October 2019 (1)
September 2019 (2)
July 2019 (1)
June 2019 (1)
May 2019 (1)
April 2019 (2)
March 2019 (4)
December 2018 (2)
November 2018 (4)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (8)
August 2018 (7)
July 2018 (11)
June 2018 (11)
May 2018 (13)
April 2018 (11)
March 2018 (12)
February 2018 (13)
January 2018 (18)
December 2017 (8)
November 2017 (15)
October 2017 (17)
September 2017 (14)
August 2017 (18)
July 2017 (10)
June 2017 (12)
May 2017 (12)
April 2017 (15)
March 2017 (15)
February 2017 (22)
January 2017 (13)
December 2016 (9)
November 2016 (14)
October 2016 (11)
September 2016 (19)
August 2016 (13)
July 2016 (11)
June 2016 (16)
May 2016 (19)
April 2016 (17)
March 2016 (9)
February 2016 (15)
January 2016 (14)
December 2015 (7)
November 2015 (15)
October 2015 (12)
September 2015 (5)
August 2015 (12)
July 2015 (16)
June 2015 (9)
May 2015 (15)
April 2015 (11)
March 2015 (16)
February 2015 (14)
January 2015 (14)
December 2014 (13)
November 2014 (15)
October 2014 (18)
September 2014 (14)
August 2014 (10)
July 2014 (14)
June 2014 (13)
May 2014 (22)
April 2014 (12)
March 2014 (12)
February 2014 (16)
January 2014 (19)
December 2013 (8)
November 2013 (33)
October 2013 (17)
September 2013 (20)
August 2013 (15)
July 2013 (6)
June 2013 (14)
May 2013 (17)
April 2013 (17)
March 2013 (16)
February 2013 (14)
January 2013 (16)
December 2012 (8)
November 2012 (20)
October 2012 (22)
September 2012 (17)
August 2012 (17)
July 2012 (22)
June 2012 (13)
May 2012 (20)
April 2012 (16)
March 2012 (28)
February 2012 (15)
January 2012 (17)
December 2011 (17)
November 2011 (24)
October 2011 (14)
September 2011 (21)
August 2011 (20)
July 2011 (21)
June 2011 (22)
May 2011 (18)
April 2011 (22)
March 2011 (18)
February 2011 (20)
January 2011 (37)
December 2010 (40)
November 2010 (41)
October 2010 (31)
September 2010 (45)
August 2010 (22)
July 2010 (24)
June 2010 (51)
May 2010 (69)
April 2010 (42)
March 2010 (60)
February 2010 (39)
January 2010 (39)
December 2009 (52)
November 2009 (38)
October 2009 (64)
September 2009 (66)
August 2009 (46)
July 2009 (54)
June 2009 (55)
May 2009 (60)
April 2009 (53)
March 2009 (64)
February 2009 (52)
January 2009 (58)
December 2008 (51)
November 2008 (43)
October 2008 (72)
September 2008 (86)
August 2008 (46)
July 2008 (74)
June 2008 (67)
May 2008 (63)
April 2008 (25)
March 2008 (21)