Now in its sixth year, PAD (Pavilion of Art + Design) has lost none of its flair for displaying objects of desire as if they were installed in a home so ideal Plato himself might sojourn there. Little wonder the beau monde who flocked to Berkeley Square on the opening night included blue-chip designers and artists such as Jasper Conran, Viscount Linley and Anish Kapoor.
For design and decorative arts, PAD London is still the fairest of them all. “We’ve done PAD every year bar the first,” enthused Kathleen Slater for the Adrian Sassoon gallery, which specialises in glass, ceramics and jewellery. “It’s a super show; very smart, very well organised, with exactly the right balance between painting and design.” Opening-night sales included a 12-part collection of blown-glass vessels with delicate canework by Danish glassmaker Tobias Mohl for £16,800 plus several more of Mohl’s individual vessels at £1,550 each.
Equally satisfied was Veronique Geiger of Pearl Lam Design, which hasn’t shown at PAD since 2007. She had yet to sell one of the fair’s most stunning pieces, “Mr Big” (2010), a steel and copper cabinet with vibrant enamelled surfaces adorned with semi-precious stones by French designer André Dubreuil (€150,000). However, two exquisite silk footstools embroidered in playful imitation of shabby packing crates by Danful Yang had been snapped up at €10,000 and €7,500 respectively, as had Yang’s porcelain unicorn-style ornament “Glasses” for €900.
The boundary between art and design is never more blurred nor profitable than under PAD’s roof. Who could definitively label the bold, brilliant-hued tapestries designed by Alexander Calder but woven in robust agave by central American craftspeople? But with six of the 12 on display already sold at £12,000 each and the other six on reserve (at the time of writing), Parisian vendor Galerie du Passage doesn’t need to worry about definitions.
The winner of PAD’s new Moët Hennessy prize for a UK-based designer under 35 also flirted with disciplinary borders. Chosen by a jury that encompassed top designer Tom Dixon and Julia Peyton-Jones, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, the award went to 22-year-old fine-art graduate Will Shannon.
His winning piece, “Harvest City Landscape”, was an inspired blend of form, function and fantasy. Its centrepiece, the “Luna Table” (2012), is made from old newspapers and recycled concrete. On the table stands a miniature silver model of “The Kiln House”, a 2010 work by Shannon that conjures the workshop of a fictional inner-city potter. Suspended above is “NW8 pendant lamp” (2012), made from London clay.
This constellation signals Shannon’s desire to pay homage to London’s “dying industrial landscapes” and gently to challenge costly production values. “A lot of the works [at PAD] are super-slick. Using concrete and papier-mâché rubs against that,” he said.
Jury president architect Nigel Coates praised Shannon for using “materials that are close to hand and often ignored”. Part of a generation for whom respect for the environment is as natural as breathing, his works “question whether we need so much design in today’s world”. Yet Coates also noted the aesthetic appeal of Shannon’s objects. “For the PAD visitor who is looking for a beautiful coffee table you couldn’t do much better than that.”
PAD, Berkeley Square, London, to October 14