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Reviews

Nomad

Collectible design exhibited in extraordinary houses, in magnificent locations.

Chesa Planta, St. Moritz

7th– 11th February 2019

By Ali Morris / 6th May 2019

FOR BRAND CONSULTANT Giorgio Pace, and architect and gallerist Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, the experience of visiting megalith art fairs in soulless convention centres across the globe got them thinking about the importance of experience. What if you could create a collectible design salon outside the city, where the location is as breathtaking as the work showcased within?

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Giorgio Pace and Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

Together Pace and Bellavance-Lecompte dreamt up the idea of Nomad – an invitation-only, experience-led travelling showcase of high-end modern design and contemporary art and design, held within extraordinary architectural locations that are ordinarily off limits to the public. “The important thing to understand about Nomad, is that it’s not a fair,” states Pace. “It’s a totally different idea and concept, and something that money cannot buy. That’s why the collectors like it and the galleries like it – it’s a novelty.”

Nomad’s inaugural edition was held in April 2017 at Karl Lagerfeld’s former Monaco residence Villa La Vigie, a vast cliff-top mansion that overlooks the Monte-Carlo Beach Club. Its follow up in February 2018 swapped the sun for the snow with an edition in the picturesque Alpine village of Samedan, just seven kilometers from the luxury ski resort of Saint Moritz. Here, renowned galleries such as Copenhagen’s Etage Projects, Milan’s Nilufar and London’s David Gill commandeered Chesa Planta, a magnificent aristocrat’s house built in the 16th century. “It’s a chance for the galleries to furnish their own room in the house; it’s not like having a booth at a fair where everything is artificial and there is no daylight,” explains Pace. “Everything is contextualised in a proper house – a similar setting to where these pieces are likely to end up.” In addition, collectors, fresh from the slopes, could enjoy the region’s dramatic peaks and unique quality of light.

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Chesa Planta / © Chesa Planta COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

BNAG, Functional Art Gallery / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

Nomad, is a totally different idea and concept, and something that money cannot buy – it’s a novelty

Sylvie Auvray, work from the exhibition ‘Broom’, Martina Simeti / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

Everything is contextualised in a proper house – a similar setting to where these pieces are likely to end up

HAVING SUCCESSFULLY WELCOMED 3,000 visitors to last year’s edition, this year the collectible design showcase returned to Chesa Planta, taking possession of almost every highly decorated nook and neglected back-stairs cranny. The twenty-five handpicked galleries included: newcomers Functional Art Gallery from Berlin (showing the cheeky, chunky ceramic Body Buddies of German design-duo Oliver-Selim Boualam and Lukas Marstaller); Oslo-based gallery, Format; and young London gallery Hunter Harrison, which showed the beautiful deconstructed silk weavings of South Korean artist Soojin Kang alongside striking ceramics by Clementine Keith-Roach, inspired by her own body. Fumi Gallery from London filled an attic with a solo presentation by Italian designer Francesco Perini of his sophisticated marquetry, while blue-chip art gallery Almine Rech showcased stunning ceramic works by Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola.

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‘Incontro’, a solo exhibition by Francesco Perini, Fumi Gallery  / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz 

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Ceramic works by Countess Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, Almine Rech Gallery / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

In a programme of Special Projects, London-based publisher and curator Oscar Humphries and Paris-based 20th-century collectible design expert Rémi Gerbeau co-hosted ‘Carlo Mollino and Charlotte Perriand: Design from the Alps’, a display devoted to projects that these two very different modernist masters undertook in the Alps. Milanese dealer Martina Simeti, by contrast, took over the old kitchens to create a playful homage to the classic 1998 book about food from Sicily, Pomp and Sustenance by Mary Taylor-Simeti, with hanging textiles by Susan Cianciolo, a series of dishes by Francesco Simeti and wacky ceramics by Sylvie Auvray. Amaryllis Jacobs of Belgian gallery Maniera, which presented a characteristically intriguing and eclectic display, commented at the time, “As one of the founding galleries we have to say that this edition was probably the best one ever, the public keeps growing and the visitors are interested to listen.”

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Work by Charlotte Perriand and Carolo Mollino, presented by Oscar Humphries and Rémi Gerbeau / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

The intimacy and intensity of the experience is key. “It is not our intention to grow larger every year,” says Pace. “We don’t want to go over thirty galleries or else we risk becoming just another art fair. We want to be very selective and always offer a new and different experience.”

He has picked his moment well. Although the Engadin region of the Swiss Alps, where Samedan is located, is perhaps better known for its ski slopes and twice hosting the winter Olympics, it is also becoming an increasingly important destination for art aficionados. “There has always been a history with artists here, it’s kind of a club,” remarks Pace. “Everyone wants to be in the same place.”

In recent years a number of new art galleries have emerged such as Vito Schnabel in St Moritz, the von Bartha gallery in S-chanf, and Galerie Andrea Carats, which relocated to St Moritz from Zurich. In Samedan, Muzeum Susch is a contemporary art institution founded by Grażnya Kulczyk – a Polish-born businesswoman, art collector and Engadine resident. The museum’s inaugural exhibition (titled “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women”), examining the many works by female artists within Kulczyk’s collection, opened just in time for Nomad.

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Zaha Hadid, Stool ‘Liquid Glacial’, 2015 (foreground). Mattia Bonetti, Console ‘Palazzo’, 2015 (background), David Gill Gallery / COURTESY: Nomad St. Moritz

IN ADDITION TO Nomad, Pace has joined forces with Will Ramsay, Founder and CEO of the Affordable Art Fair, to create a new contemporary art fair in St. Moritz. Called SOMMET Winter Salon of Contemporary Art, the showcase is founded by Ramsay while Pace is serving as its artistic director. Set to debut in February 2020, when it will coincide with Nomad, SOMMET will host around 26 galleries dedicated to modern and contemporary art, and will feature a specially curated programme of collateral projects and happenings. “The idea really is to create a collector’s week, so these two events are helping each other,” explains Pace. “Like Nomad, SOMMET will not be a fair, it’s a salon. Everything is very tailor-made. It’s so important to give the visitors this special experience.”

Nomad itself, however, will pop-up before then, in the Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel in Venice, between 5th and 8th September 2019.

Nomad St Moritz – a travelling event for collectible design.

Sommet – Winter Salon of Contemporary Art.

 

Article By

Ali Morris
Ali Morris is a London-based writer, editor and consultant who specialises in design and architecture. Trained in interior architecture, she writes for publications such as Wallpaper* magazine, Dezeen, Elle Decoration, Interior Design, CNN Style and the Guardian.