The Design Market: lots for less

In a canny move, the French auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr will hold a sale aimed at “young design collectors” – essentially, for emerging collectors who feel priced out of the contemporary art market and see design as a more affordable field. Estimates for the 216 lots – on sale at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, on January 28 – range from €300 to €20,000, including works by the London-based industrial designer Marc Newson (a “Plastic Orgone” chair, 2007, has a low estimate of €500 to €800) and Charlotte Perriand, one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement (a suite of six “Meribel” chairs, 1960, estimated at €1,800 to €2,500). The market for Matali Crasset will be tested when 21 items by the contemporary French designer go under the hammer. Arbre à Reflets, 2002, her floor lamp in an edition of eight, is estimated to attract bids of €3,000 to €4,000.

German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic made waves last week at the IMM Cologne trade fair. The prototype for his Bench B design, a flexible seating system, extends to six metres in length by adding one chair at a time (a maximum of eight chairs can be slotted together). The structure, with its distinctive crossed legs, is inspired by a design classic, Mies van der Rohe’s 1929 Barcelona Chair. A four-seat upholstered configuration costs about €5,000. The BD Barcelona Design Company, which produced the work, will offer the piece at the Milan Furniture fair in April.

The nascent design market in Asia will be boosted by the new M+ museum scheduled to open in 2017 in the West Kowloon Cultural District of Hong Kong. Aric Chen, curator of design and architecture at M+, throws light on his collecting strategy: “We’re looking to build a collection that tells the many stories of 20th-century design and architecture in Asia – particularly in Hong Kong, mainland China and Japan, and extending to Korea, Taiwan and Southeast Asia – in a way that traces their development as industrial, economic and cultural powerhouses.”

The challenges of sustainability and urbanisation in China will also be on his curatorial agenda. “Global interests in design are converging with long-held tendencies in these regions, whether with the blurring of disciplinary boundaries, the reinvigoration of craft, or the emergence of ‘copy culture’ in light of the internet,” says Chen. Any acquisitions are yet to be announced.

Pritzker Prizewinning architect Frank Gehry, known for designing monumental buildings such as the Guggenheim Bilbao, has scaled down with his latest structures: a series of lamps modelled as fish, on show concurrently at Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles (until February 14) and Paris (until March 9). The life aquatic has been a source of inspiration for Gehry since the 1980s, when he was commissioned by the Formica Corporation to create objects from their new plastic laminate ColorCore. Prices start at about $150,000, and I doubt there will be a shortage of takers (the Connecticut-based publishing magnate Peter Brant is, for example, is a major collector of Gehry’s furniture).

Meanwhile, I understand that another distinguished architect, Amanda Levete, who has designed a new underground extension for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, is set to work with David Gill Galleries (a modern and contemporary art and furniture gallery in London) on a special project to coincide with the London Design Festival in September.

A market for design – especially in high-end contemporary work – is continuing to take shape in the Middle East. Oasis Magazine, Saudi Arabia’s first English arts and culture magazine, plans to launch Saudi Design Week this spring. “We’re working with department stores, such as Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, to introduce designers’ work [to the public], and hopefully creating a wider design community,” says Noura Bouzo of Oasis Magazine.

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