Friday, June 23, 2017

Design Plus Art at the Decoration & Design Building

With the great American interior designer Stephen Sills at the D & D Building. 
Art and design – two of my favorite subjects! A couple of weeks ago I attended Spring Market Day at the Decorating & Design Building here in New York City. The handsome D & D Building on Third Avenue houses over 130 manufacturers' showrooms, which are open to-the-trade and welcome design industry professionals from around the world. The day was called Art X Design, and was dedicated to exploring how art and design work together in interiors. Showrooms were open to visitors, plus there were three keynote speaker panels, 14 in-showroom programs, three cocktail receptions, and more.

I started the morning with a panel on "How Art of the 20th Century Shapes Design" which was moderated by Town & Country Editor in Chief Stellene Volandes and included artist Sophie Matisse, who is the great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse; interior designer Stephen Sills (pictured above); and Molly Ott-Amber, Senior Vice President at Sotheby's. In discussing how to decorate with art, Sills warned, "Don't do color schemes or rooms around art, ever." The designer said he is inspired by old photographs of artists' studios. "Great artists were great decorators and very conscious of their environment," he noted, citing Matisse, Picasso and Cy Twombly as favorite examples.

Next I headed to "Art Smart: A Primer for Designers" with moderator Galerie magazine editor-at-large Margaret Russell and designers Jamie Drake and Robert Stilin and art advisor Lorinda Ash. The panel discussed favorite art galleries to visit in New York which include Gagosian, Marianne Boesky, Chiem Read, Pace and Eleven Rivington. Later I hit "The Curatorial Designer: Interiors for Contemporary Art Collectors" moderated by NYC&G Editor in Chief Kendell Cronstrom with author Alisa Carroll, designers Gary Hutton and Amy Lau, and art advisor Blair Clarke. "A job is not finished until there is art on the walls," observed Amy Lau.

The art world can be intimidating place for buyers but throughout the day, discussions offered advice on navigating that world and how to best incorporate art into interior design. "The purpose was to provide a service to the design community and give them access to a variety of vetted experts including art advisors, art galleries, and auction houses," said Liz Nightingale, Vice President, Director of Marketing at the D & D Building, who organized the successful event. After a glass of wine at one of the cocktail parties, my head was swimming with all of the conversations of the day and the power of art to enhance and inspire. As Margaret Russell said during her panel, "Art elevates everything."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rei Kawakubo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute




I am a little behind since my father passed away but earlier last month I did attend a preview for the new exhibition at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is called "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçon: Art of the In-Between." Rei Kawakubo is of course the diminutive, avant-garde Japanese fashion designer who has been creating her artistic collections for her Comme des Garçon label since 1969. Kawakubo has been very influential in the world of fashion; you can see her effect on the work of designers like John Galliano and Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. This is only the second retrospective at the Met for a living fashion designer; the first was for Yves Saint Laurent, which Diana Vreeland presented in 1983.




In the opening remarks at the preview, the curator Andrew Bolton noted that Kawakubo "blurs the distinction between art and fashion with designs that look like sculpture." Indeed, many of the garments on display defy the traditional norms of clothing with shapes and volumes that don't follow the lines of the body at all but create their own unique silhouette. I tended to like the more classic shapes like the red garments above and these dresses with a lace bodice –



The installation itself was very interesting too. I've never seen anything like it at the Met. Displaying about 150 garments, it's a white maze of different shaped modules that was designed by Kawakubo and Bolton together. Costume shows typically focus spotlights on individual pieces but this exhibition features 150 fluorescent lights overhead so it feels like you're in a very bright modern art gallery –



An additional treat was hearing Caroline Kennedy speak at the preview as she does not often appear in public in New York. Caroline Kennedy was the United States Ambassador to Japan during the Obama administration and so she talked about her friend Rei Kawakubo – 



For an exploration of clothing as abstract modern art, go see the new Costume Institute show at the Met, through September 5th. Up now also at the museum, which I plan to see, is an exhibition of photographs by the great master Irving Penn.