Neither regulars nor newcomers have any fears over its success: the quality and exclusiveness of their designer pieces ensure a powerful identity for this unmissable event.
Marc Fish, Etheral Desk, 2018, sycamore and acrylic, 64.77 x 247.65 x 73.03 cm. Todd Merrill Studio.
Courtesy of Todd Merrill Studio
Deal or no deal, the 13th edition of PAD London is definitely happening. "I don't believe for a second that Brexit will in any way affect the leading collectors who live in London's five central districts," says its director, Patrick Perrin. He's not alone in this, either, because sixty-eight exhibitors – maintaining the 2018 numbers – are reporting present for this new adventure, including twelve newcomers. From 30 September to 6 October, Berkeley Square will be boldly flying European and even international colours.
A fillip for the classics
The PAD has skilfully built up a reputation around historic design, so this aspect remains central to the event. The quality of the participants needs no advertising, with a select club (in which the French dominate, with eighteen of the twenty-four exhibitors) headed by Gastou father and son, Chahan, Jousse Entreprise, Chastel-Maréchal, Alain Marcelpoil and Marcilhac, among other big names. The Dutko company's historicity and ever-stringent choices also earn it top billing. This year, its stand will be focusing on furniture and sculptures by Philippe Anthonioz and Bruno Romeda, accompanied for the first time by Monique Frydman's paintings. Two outsiders are attempting a breakthrough this time around: Thomas Fritsch (Artrium) and Portuondo. Having started out in the flea market, like many of his talented colleagues, Fritsch has opened an area in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and is raring to go as a champion of French ceramics from the 1950s and 1960s, with flagship pieces by Georges Jouve, Roger Capron and Jacques and Dani Ruelland. "PAD London is a highly sought-after exhibition, and you often have to apply for many years before getting in. This year, because of Brexit, some galleries were hesitant about taking part; a perfect opportunity for me to leap in." As well as works by his usual stable of artists, he will be adding a small-scale focus on Suzanne Ramié's designs for the Madoura studio: "The international market for Picasso's ceramics is already in London, so this is a pretty well-known name." The other newcomers to the section will again be highlighting their passion for Seventies pieces, displayed in a dramatic staging. Their first PAD Paris in 2018 was highly successful, and their presence in London provides "an opportunity to join one of the world's top fairs in our speciality, and measure ourselves against the international market." They will presenting versions of their trademark: a black and white world with iconic pieces by Italian and American designers, with Jean-Claude Farhi's metal sculptures taking a natural place among them. Contemporary jewellery is increasingly present at foreign editions of the PAD. This year, the arrival of five new members in this field takes their number to thirteen. Combining Oriental design with the best European artisanal techniques, the somewhat extravagant creations of Anna Hu (based in the US and China) made a big splash at the first PAD Monaco last spring. She is now testing her powers in London. Jewellery by companies like Taffin, Fabio Salini, Boghossian and The Beautiful Watch (with fine timepieces), also making their first appearance, will be scintillating alongside hers. The fact that this offering has now swelled is a sign of genuine demand.
The best of contemporary design
In the British capital, the PAD lavishes attention on its contemporary design section, for which it invites newcomers to present a selection of pieces by their national creators. After the Greek designer Veta Stefanidou Tsoukala and the Anglo-Italian Achille Salvagni in 2018, it's the American Todd Merrill Studio's turn to make a comeback after an absence of several years and a successful switch to contemporary design. "There is huge demand from international galleries, and it's very stimulating for us to show how vigorous they are", says Patrick Perrin. The choice fell on the Spanish Side Gallery and more unexpectedly, proving the internationalisation of design, South Africa's Southern Guild. Founded in 2008, this has been a pioneering gallery in Africa, encouraging "artists to create directly African works in line with tradition, which have global relevance through their quest for bold interpretations." Since then, it has made regular appearances at leading fairs, particularly Art Design Miami/Basel. Both join what is now a classic team with twenty exhibitors: numbers now virtually on a par with the world of historical design dealers. For while it is still a niche market, it is no longer seen as a UFO, and is certainly growing, with ever-more galleries, designers and collectors. The price gap between contemporary design and contemporary art is narrowing and it is no longer unusual to find one-of-a-kind pieces at several hundred thousand euros, or limited editions that are sometimes sold out in barely a year, as the Carpenters Workshop has proved on several occasions. So galleries will jump at the chance to come to London. Many are united in saying that only the British capital offers them this constant movement of millionaires (some of whom live in the elegant Mayfair district), international "Etablishment" bankers, young Turks of the finance world and visitors from every part of the globe, "because London is and remains a key venue". And this wealthy, demanding clientele requires the very best, from Maria Wettergren to Negropontes.