What People Want, Part II

Antique show organizers, as I mentioned in my most recent blog, are looking for ways to attract new people. The Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD), a French based show that is in both Paris and London, opened last November in the Seventh Regiment Armory. Allegedly, the show was not about antiques. In fact, there were antiques, but there were also new things. The concept, I believe, was to eliminate the word antique from the title of the show and replace it with design.

What is meant by the word, “design”? On its own, without a qualifier, the word, as a noun, has no meaning. Design has to be something. A good example of well thought out design is “Cabinet of Curiosities”, created by Thierry Despont in conjunction with Marlborough Gallery showing in Tribeca at 6 Harrison St. The exhibition is of art, sculpture, and antique furniture in a back drop of French boiserie. People who want “design” should see this installation. It is wonderful and shows the value of, dare I say it, good design.

I think the point is that words alone are not going to change the way people see things. Omitting the word “antique” and substituting the word “design” is just a shell game. “Cabinet of Curiosities” makes it very clear that it is how things are used, not what they are, that makes them work or not. This is what the public that comes to antique or design shows needs to understand more than anything else. And that is a problem that show and fair organizers have to overcome. Whoever thought that semantics would be more important than the items that we sell?

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