NOMAD St. Moritz 2022
The Design Edit reports from the boutique art and design fair.
Chesa Planta, Samedan
1st – 6th March 2022
THIS WEEK THE boutique art and design fair, NOMAD, has returned to its picturesque pitch in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. This is the fifth edition to occupy Chesa Planta, a splendid baroque mansion, first built in 1595, for the de Salis family, in Samedan, close to St Moritz.
A cultural centre, it is home to the world’s largest collection of books in the Romansh language. The lure for galleries and visitors alike is to see highly curated selections of art and design from invited galleries staged in its many exquisite rooms, whether wood-panelled bedrooms, drawing rooms decorated with cut-velvet wallpaper and Delft-tiled stoves, or spartan sculleries.
As Brussels-based Maniera gallery director, Amaryllis Jacobs, here ensconced in the snow-capped tea-house, showing work by New York-based MOS Architects, comments, “We may not do the most business by volume here, but this is by far the most enjoyable fair to come to.”
Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, co-founder with Giorgio Pace of the event, stresses that “the all encompassing experience” is what they are seeking. Believing, as Bellavance-Lecompte explains, “that a new model was needed” to showcase twentieth-century and contemporary art and collectible design, in 2017 they launched the NOMAD Circle, mounting boutique art and design fairs in outstanding locations – from Venice to the South of France.
The first was in the Villa La Vigie, in Monaco, once the home of Karl Lagerfeld. In summer 2019, the event unfurled in the Palazzo Sorano Van Axel in Venice. This summer, the destination is the sprawling, fourteenth century Carthusian monastery of San Giacomo on Capri.
The concept is simple – to bring an edited selection of leading international art and design galleries to their collectors, where they like to holiday. Scouting the private view on 1st March were international gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth (who have a gallery space in St. Moritz), British architect Norman Foster and his wife Elena, and philanthropist Jill Ritblat as well as Italian cultural entrepreneur Beatrice Trussardi, who launched her eponymous nomadic art foundation last summer in a remote valley close by, with an installation by Polish artist Paweł Althamer.
Every nook and cranny of the building is occupied. Pierre Yovanovitch has chosen to launch his ‘New Alpine’ collection, made from solid oak, with its clear nod to the Swedish designer Axel Einar Hjorth, in a suite of rooms lined with wood.
MuseGallery from Monaco has also taken the wintry theme, creating a cosy upstairs interior with pieces by Scandinavian designers including Hjorth and Flemming Lassen, inspired by the idea of North.
Meanwhile Format, a design and craft gallery from Oslo, displays the sculptural, nature-inspired ceramics of Irene Nordli, in the bare kitchen.
The prize for the most ingenious curation goes, however, to The Gallery of Everything, from London, who have transformed the awkward space beneath a wooden staircase into a cubicle of wonder. Here, gallerist James Brett, whose focus, he says, is “unusual people making art”, displays an array of exquisite photomicrographs of snowflakes.
These were created in the late nineteenth century by a young man from Nevada, Wilson Bentley, who taught himself to photograph the flakes using a microscope and camera. Caught on a blackboard before they could melt, Bentley called the flakes, “tiny miracles of beauty”. Arranged in a grid, the framed black and white prints are equally impressive. Catch them this weekend.
TDE’s four highlights:
Unmissable, as you enter the Chesa Planta, is the eclectic display of Etage Projects, from Copenhagen. Visitors are greeted by Sabine Marcelis’s exquisite ‘Stacked Fountain’ (2021), an evolution, in pink resin and travertine marble, from her ‘Fendi’ series of fountains, launched at Design Miami/ in 2018. Other highlights are Minjai Kim’s anthropomorphic ‘Floor Lamp’ (2022) and ‘Fast Chair’ (2021), displayed with his ‘Hut Cabinet’ (2022) and French designer Chloé Royer’s sinuous steel, resin and fibreglass sculpture, ‘Exo Mirror’ (2022).
Over the mountains from Milan, Dimoregallery, participating for the first time, offsets the warm red of its allotted space with a low-slung, simple oak and jute ‘Snedkerier’ lounge chair by Pool Kjaerholm and Jorgen Hoj, from 1952, and a Charlotte Perriand sofa, from 1965, upholstered in tartan wool. The intriguing wrapped ‘Fantasma’ floor lamp by Afra and Tobia Scarpa, produced by Flos in 1961, glowing by the Piero Bottoni desk, sold within the first half hour.
Galleria Luisa Delle Piane
This renowned Milanese gallery, specialists in contemporary and historical design, have balanced historic pieces by Ettore Sottsass, with two superb, poetic light pieces, by contemporary designer Andrea Branzi, from his new collection of unique pieces, ‘Ossi i Seppia’, created for the gallery. The amusing coffee table by Sottsass is a one-off, while his sleek ‘Bastonio’ chest of drawers was designed in 1966 for Poltronova. Opposite stands a classic 1970s light work of Italian designer Nanda Vigo, a ‘Cronotop’ sideboard produced by Driade in 1971.
Galerie von Bartha
With their main base in Basel and a small space alongside a majestic old house in the nearby village of S-chanf, Galerie von Bartha are locals. For NOMAD, they have created a contrasting show of new work by Anna Dickinson and Imi Knoebel. Anna Dickinson is known for her extraordinarily poised and subtle sculptures in glass and metal – here she shows new work also exploring polypropylene, balancing textures, colours and forms.
Knoebel shows paintings on metal, cut out sheets, some hanging by a nail, playing the sharp line against the beautiful patination effects of the surface. In conversation with the two are some of the intriguing painted metal structures of Swiss artist Robert Rebetez. Together, these artists exercise to the highest degree your appreciation of space, colour, line and material. Not design, but in dialogue with it.
Emma Crichton-Miller stayed at the Grand Kronenhof Hotel in Pontresina.
NOMAD St. Moritz 2022