The Salon Art + Design Brings a Global, Eclectic Blend of Designers and Craftsmen to Park Avenue

On the heels of New York’s auction week, The Salon Art + Design hits the city just in time to capitalize on the influx of foot traffic, but it’s the fair’s unique blend of furniture, art, and antiquities that keeps collectors coming back. Composed of an eclectic blend of independent art and design galleries, the fair has earned a reputation for its Francophile tendencies—but as usual, in its fourth iteration, the fair has also invited an international roster to show at the Park Avenue Armory. 

Amongst the newcomers, there is a strong Italian contingent. Nilufar Gallery from Milan and Galleria O. Rome beef up the Baroque aesthetic with their Italian Modernist-focused programs. At Nilufar’s booth, the dazzling limbs of American wunderkind Lindsey Adelman’s chandelier illuminates canonized designers like Gio Ponti, Franco Albini, and Gabriella Crespi. Ponti also pops up at Galleria O. Rome, with a room full of his low-slung seats from the 1950s. But it is his blue modular wardrobe from the mid-1960s that steals the spotlight. The Italian flavor continues at Robilant + Voena, where Lucio Fontana’s slash paintings hang with the 3D canvases of Fontana’s contemporary, Paolo Scheggi.  

Not surprisingly, Europe is well-represented on the whole. Austrians come into the scene at full force with a collection of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt drawings presented by Richard Nagy Ltd. Intimately sized, these works on paper provide a delicate foil to statement-making furniture like the metal coffee table by Parisian designer Maria Pergay and the Lucite bookshelf by Pierre Paulin one finds at Demisch Danant’s booth. The French influence pervades at Galerie Alain Marcelpoil, where the woodwork of Art Deco-era designer André Sornay is on display. Boxy and dark, his furniture feels simultaneously severe and welcoming. Mattia Bonetti serves as a fitting ambassador for Switzerland with an appearance at David Gill Gallery, where Bonetti’s furry armchair sits adrift in a sea of clear acrylic furniture by Zaha Hadid and Fredrikson Stallard. Precious objects by Barnaby Barford, the contemporary British potter with a Victorian touch, fill out the vignette.

No design fair is complete without the Nordic states. At Galerie Kreo, Studio Wieki Somers shows Dutch design’s bright future with their surreal looking Chuugi Devotion lamp (2013). Staged on white pedestals, their gangly light plays nicely with Spanish designer Jaime Hayon’s equally curious stools, which blend sports imagery and ceramics. J. Lohmann Gallery places Danish sculptor Merete Rasmussen’s work front and center at their booth, where her primary-colored ceramics coils seem defy to gravity and the reality of the kiln.

Returning vendors like Friedman Benda have taken full advantage of the relatively roomy booths, which lend themselves to immersive installations. At the front of the fair, the Chelsea gallery’s all-Humberto and Fernando Campana living room sets the bar for South America. Deliciously tactile works like their Bolotas Armchair (2015) and Detonando Modular Bookshelf (2015) showcase the Brazilian duo’s ability to flirt with cheekiness and refinement. On the shelves, one can also spot the work of Adam Silverman, a crossover sculptor-ceramicist who also shows with Cherry and Martin.

Sergio Rodrigues’s table adds carioca spice to the mostly American lineup found at R & Company’s booth. While its Tribeca space is currently outfitted in Brazilian Modernism, at the fair, the New York design gallery played to its home-field advantage with tabletop treasures by The Haas brothers, Thaddeus Wolfe, and Rogan Gregory. These domestic designers and artists find their place in relation to more unexpected choices like Gildas Berthelot, a Quebec-based designer, whose furniture appears at Galerie Diane de Polignac’s station. His lounge chair and table are a show-stopping duo, and their sweeping curves entice one to inquire about how they are fabricated.

East comes West at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd., where the glazed vessels of Japanese ceramist Kaneta Masanao are on display. Masanao was born in the 1950s, and his contemporary stoneware creations hint at the Hagi potter’s traditional schooling. The gilded totems of up-and-coming Japanese sculptor Takuro Kuwata  make an appearance at Salon 94, complementing the bright abstractions of American painter Jayson Musson. At SEOMI International, the contemporary blends with 2000-year-old history through the furniture of South Korean designer Kang Myung Sun. A collection of her latest pieces, including her mounted From the Glitter Wall Cabinet (2014), draw visitors into the booth with their dazzling surfaces inlaid with mother of pearl. 

Chinese calligraphy is an unexpected, but welcome, addition to the mix thanks to Michael Goedhuis. Abstracted to the point of being illegible, Wei Ligang’s work blurs the line between craft and art through the medium of language. 

Many booths juxtapose different nationalities, eras, and ages, but design collaborative Wolfs + Jung at ammann//gallery might steal the title for most intriguing international collision. The joint effort of South Korean designer Bo Young Jung and Belgian designer Emmanuel Wolfs, Wolfs + Jung’s “Impossible Trees” collection engages the tension between the man-made and the natural through a series of bronze pieces cast from hand-carved wooden sculptures. Roughly textured and sturdily constructed, these cast works move away from the decorative towards the conceptual. It is this idea of crossover that seems to pervade the atmosphere. Housed together temporarily in the renovated drill hall of the Armory, the diverse group of curators, craftsman, and artists find an unexpected harmony in their shared willingness to embrace the functional, the historic, and the conceptual all under the same roof. 

Kat Herriman


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