PAD: Banking on Digital

On 11 November 2020, by Maïa Roffé

Hard hit by the first lockdown, postponed in May and then moved to the FIAC dates from October 19 to 25, the art and design fair is forced to go digital because of the health crisis.

Pierre Renart (b. 1990), Wave desk, "Ribbon" collection, 2020, American walnut, 75 x 190 x 80 cm (approx. 29.5 x 75 x 31.5 in.), length of top 150 cm (59 in.), width of ribbon 60 cm (approximately 23.6 in.).
© Maison parisienne

Gone are the PAD Awards overseen by interior designer Jacques Grange, the restaurant revamped by designer Sandra Benhamou and the PAD studio run by Oitoemponto's interior design duo, Jacques Bec and Artur Miranda. Welcome to the digital platform padesignartonline, bringing together exhibitors from PAD Paris and London. "We are merging the two shows on a single digital platform. We are not an Online Viewing Room like Art Basel OVR or FIAC Stories, or a commercial site, but a long-term development platform that links up PAD exhibitors with collectors. Each dealer can exhibit up to twenty-five photographs of works, objects or furniture when it is launched on November 18, and add five pieces each month," says the show's founder, Patrick Perrin. Unlike the online TEFAF fair, which has maintained its stringent remote vetting process with only one flagship piece presented per gallery, here dealers take responsibility for the objects they present and their condition, and manage the negotiation and sales process right through to payment and carriage logistics. The interface, designed by Tagwalk, the search engine specializing in fashion, features several drop-down menus—the object category, the PAD edition (Paris or London) and the gallery—and also provides keyword searches. Several photographs are available for each work, with a description and the dealer's contact details, and may or may not indicate a price. "The service is free for all our exhibitors, and will only require a fee in the form of a subscription from the second year on for those who wish. At that point, there will be a selection committee," says Patrick Perrin.

Energizing the Market
"We can't carry on as before; we have to invent everything, and find new ways to maintain collectors' passion," says gallery owner Clara Scremini. A pioneer of the PAD since its first edition, she presents pure, attractive glassware by Czech designers Eva Vlčková and Martin Hlubucek. "In these times it's crucial to come up with initiatives aimed at making works accessible, sharing them and inspiring people's fantasies," says gallery owner Julien Flak, a specialist in traditional art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas. At the same time as an Online Viewing room on his gallery's website, and videos, quizzes and fun formats on his Instagram network, he posts a selection of sculptures and masks with a wide range of prices on the padesignartonline platform. "We have gone for bold works with pure, architectural forms, thus creating a harmonious alliance with the design intrinsic to the PAD's DNA," he says.
More than ever, contemporary design remains central to the PAD's digital platform, starting with creations by Chahan Minassian—for which the designer and interior architect has opened a dedicated gallery next to the one at 11 rue de Lille in Paris—and a selection of specific pieces by each artist and designer represented by the Negropontes gallery, including furniture by Hervé Langlais, glass sculptures by Perrin & Perrin, light installations by Éric de Dormaël, sculpted panels by Étienne Moyat and ceramics by Benjamin Poulanges. With Maison Parisienne, creations by seven French artists that should have been physically on show at the PAD Paris are now online, including a spectacular piece in American walnut by Pierre Renart (Wave desk) and a monumental wall panel by Julien Vermeulen, Black Stone, made with 1,400 black goose feathers! "Obviously, the digital platform cannot replace the show and physical meetings with visitors, but our material artists have worked flat out to create exceptional works especially for PAD Paris," says director Florence Guillier Bernard.
"In the absence of fairs, we feel it is essential to support initiatives of this type, to energize the market and enable all its players to present appealing selections to their collectors, who are always on the look-out," says Jacques Lacoste. Well-versed in iconic pieces of 20th-century decorative art, after Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann's Macassar ebony Soleil bed presented at PAD 2019, he is exhibiting online a rare four-poster bed by Jacques Adnet, with a structure entirely covered in leather. Meanwhile, Aline Chastel of the Chastel-Maréchal gallery is presenting a selection of Brazilian furniture, pieces by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne and a few works by Joy de Rohan Chabot: speaking illustrations of the gallery's trademark mix of periods, styles and rare, exquisite objects. "At the moment, we are seeing more and more online fairs. These digital platforms provide greater visibility on the Internet and enable us to develop our presence on the web. It also means we can present the latest news and stay in contact with our customers," says the gallery owner. Keeping in touch is fundamental... while awaiting PAD Paris (April 7 to 11, 2021) and PAD London (October 4 to 10, 2021).

WORTH KNOWING
The PAD digital platform coming online:
padesignartonline.com
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