At the end of October, Paris hosted one of the most eagerly awaited fair events focusing on contemporary art: Paris+ par Art Basel, organized by the international giant that produces happenings under the same name in Basel, Miami Beach (1-3 December, now in the preparation phase) and Hong Kong. The appointment attracted thousands of visitors (about 40,000 reported for the fair alone) and spread throughout the city with open-air projects.
One interesting development was the curiosity demonstrated by the art world regarding design: stands created by outstanding studios (Pierre Yovanovitch for Gagosian, Olivier Dwek for LGDR), many examples of functional art, or art inspired by elements and objects related to the home. The sculpted wooden furniture by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel (Loevenbruck, Paris), the colorful chairs in metal by Tschabalala Self (Eva Presenhuber, Zurcho/New York), the installation by Yong Xiang Li made of panels that are lowered to become seats (Antenna Space, Shanghai).
This curiosity was returned on the part of design, as it shifts increasingly towards the methods and languages of art. The Milan-based gallery Nilufar organized a small exhibition-event; while the nomadic fair Unique Design x Paris, which since 2019 has produced events on collectible design (the next date is in Los Angeles, from 16 to 19 February), presented a series of furniture and objects representing experiments on form and material, like the asphalt table and chairs of Lost Highway by Lionel Jadot.
The parallels between the two disciplines stood out more vividly than even in two projects: the installation Sites by the artist Alicia Kwade, at Place Vendôme, and the skate park created by the designer Yinka Ilori, installed on the upper level of Unique Design x Paris. Both triggered interaction with the public, as people utilized these two urban locations in an unusual way.
“The idea was also to win back space,” says the curator Jerôme Sans, who worked on the project for Place Vendôme. “Today we cross our cities at an increasingly fast pace. With this installation, viewers would stop, explore the square, since they wanted to touch the stones and feel their energy. A poetic, philosophical voyage, also addressing the environment that surrounds us, and its mystery.”
Likewise, the skate park by Ilori created a colorful and surreal landscape in an industrial structure, to the delight of the young people of the neighborhood, who brought the place alive, utilizing it for their reckless rides. Design or public art? Or both, perhaps?