PAD London 2022 / Roundup
Evocative scenography, high quality works and an appreciative audience marked PAD's return to London.
AS THE DOORS opened for the 2022 edition of PAD London in Berkeley Square last week, there was anxiety, hope and excitement in the air. This was the first edition since 2019, and the galleries that had come from Europe and beyond had had to contend with an increased array of bureaucratic and logistical challenges.
Still, as dealers put the finishing touches to their stands, several of which curved around the trees of Berkeley Square where the fair’s tent was pitched, there was a feeling of resumed normality – and, among visitors queuing to get in, eager anticipation to see the new pieces on view.
Galleries had made efforts both with the the quality of the individual pieces (such as the eye-catching ‘Vinilanda’ swinging chair by Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti (2000) at Galerie kreo) and the scenography of their spaces – for instance, Sarah Myerscough’s atmospheric curated booth, ‘Dark Matter’.
Jacques Lacoste and WA Design took the stand awards. Lacoste was offering as backdrop a mighty gold and white silk-screened linen panel from 1946, by Henri Matisse, based on his paper cut outs of the era.
WA Design, meanwhile, a gallery specialising in Japanese design that was making its PAD debut, created a sculptural installation of first edition Noguchi lights.
For outstanding objects, the Contemporary Art prize was won by Signe Emdal’s beguiling wall-piece, ‘Khrysos’, 2019-20, made of Icelandic up-spun wool, on the stand of Maria Wettergren. The piece was bought during the fair.
The Historical Design prize went to PAD newcomer Patrick Fourtin’s ‘Elza’ pair of chairs (1932-33) by the Slovenian-born architect, Jože Plečnik, while Francesco Perini took the Contemporary Design prize for his oak, maple and marble table, ‘Casamona’, 2022, on FUMI’s stand.
Prizes aside, over 30,000 people attended this small but highly selective fair, during a period of seven days. Kathleen Slater, a director at Adrian Sassoon, spoke for many when she said, “It’s lovely to be back.” She noted “lots of decorators and designers. Many Europeans and Americans. People are travelling, desperate to see art.” Among sales of pieces by gallery artists (including ceramicist Kate Malone and metalsmith Junko Mori), Colin Reid’s creation – a large-scale yellow and black layered glass circle – sold to a collector from the Netherlands.
Another PAD stalwart, the Swedish gallery Modernity (soon to open their new space in London’s Pimlico), reported that they were “selling well. We are back to normal, with people buying major items of furniture and lighting.” They had sold lighting by Paavo Tynell, and a rare, spectacular chair by Hans Wegner to a new client.
In a nearby booth, Dimore Gallery of Milan had created a warm interior setting for their vintage Italian pieces. “The fair is very good for us,” their representative said, “People are surprised that these historical pieces are in such good condition.” They sold the entire pared-back elegant bookcase with bar cabinet by Osvaldo Borsani, from the 1960s.
Among contemporary galleries, Gabrielle Ammann, of Ammann Gallery, reported, “The piece attracting the most interest was Studio Nucleo’s ‘souvenir of the last century bench’, but photography and other pieces also sold well.” Ammann adds, “We found the crowd a very good mix of interior designers, private collectors and younger clients showing an interest in collectible design.”
Among galleries new to the fair, Mélissa Paul, who has recently moved to London, reported many useful client meetings: “We have a big new address book!”. Particular interest was shown in the stoneware table, ‘La Calissonne’, by Agnès Debizet and the limited edition totemic room divider of Natasha Dakhli – “We have sold it twice,” Paul told TDE.
Lise Coirier of Spazio Nobile from Brussels was also pleased with the response. “We took some risks in showing emerging artists and experimental work, but the risk has paid off”, she reports, with sales of works across her eclectic roster.
Martin Levy, of the venerable London dealership H. Blairman & Sons Ltd, whose intriguing stand devoted to late nineteenth and early twentieth century works always draws visitors, seemed content: “We’ve enjoyed doing the fair. It has been very busy and we have sold things.” Among the sales was the impressive honey-coloured Gordon Russell cupboard on chest from 1928.
Lucas Ratton meanwhile, presenting high quality Tribal Art, reported few sales for the moment but plenty of interest. He commented “The tribal market is hard to resume in London. But everyone is very interested and curious. We have had lots of enquiries. Now we have to convince them to buy.”
Finally, PAD London has become an ideal platform for the launch of new collections and individual new works. Achille Salvagni Atelier unveiled four pieces from a new ten-piece collection, a collaboration between the Italian designer and French textile designer Toyine Sellers. Inspiration came from the vibrant colours and organic lines of Nelson A. Rockefeller’s living room in his Fifth Avenue apartment, designed by Jean-Michel Frank in 1938. To complete the look, Olivier Malingue had loaned works by Fernand Léger and Henri Matisse.
Carpenters Workshop Gallery meanwhile greeted visitors to the fair with a new light work by Paul Cocksedge, ‘Light and Shade’ (2021), a poetic evocation of pieces of paper flying through the air. All in all, there was certainly no shortage of surprises and delights.