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Spazio Nobile booth at Salon Art + Design 2023 in New York – Effect Magazine

New York’s Salon Art + Design fair reveals fresh and reprised trends

From groundbreaking glass and layered surface treatments to highly ornate game sets, the stalwart collectibles fair keeps the measure of an ever-evolving industry

Collectible design fairs are a dime a dozen these days. With twice-annual events such as PAD and Design Miami/ making a splash in their respective markets, new format happenings like NOMAD tap into the cache of jet-set travel while also pushing beyond the booth-lined floors of convention centers and tented outposts. Increasingly, however, galleries trading in different types of wares—vintage or contemporary; traditional or experimental, decorative or conceptual—are being more selective about which fairs they decided to show with. Collectors have plenty to choose from. The most shrewd know where to look. 

Holding court over New York’s especially exhaustive autumn cultural calendar, Salon Art + Design is a sophisticated offering that caters to the city’s particularly discerning raft of buyers; a significant slice of the international collector base. Staged at the storied Park Avenue Armory—a well preserved, highly ornate vestige of the city’s Gilded Age—the boutique fair takes on a holistic approach as it brings together works by some of today’s most sought-after talents but also features unexpected rarities; treasures exhumed from dusty warehouses by some of the savviest experts. Being able to transcend disciplinary definitions is as relevant as ever given the fact that most buyers are looking to appoint their homes with works that carry meaning and personality, regardless of application. A chair can now have as much resonance as a painting. 

This year’s edition of Salon Art + Design—held from 9 to 13 November—expanded that all-encompassing approach by welcoming in a slew of new exhibitors. With some of the blue-chip platforms not participating—many of them already established with brick and mortar space in New York and mounting their own adjacent shows—room was afforded to newcomer galleries (many of which are based abroad), luxury furniture producers, independent superstar talent, and even online artisanal marketplaces. It was a unique opportunity for fresh talents to get in front of the fair’s especially informed clientele. What was put on full display during this edition is the industry’s ability to foster material research, the reinterpretation of age-old craft traditions, conceptual ideation, and free expression.

Such an eclectic and open presentation makes for a strong survey of the latest trends, such as collectible design’s relatively recent expansion into new sectors such as homeware and jewelry. From the 2023 Salon Art + Design fair, Effect Magazine pin-points four themes currently influencing this ever-changing and growing market.

Experimental Glass 

'Sakura' by Dutch artist Maarten Vrolijk, presented by Todd Merrill Studio at Salon Art + Design 2023 in Effect Magazine
Experimental glass made a re-emergence at Salon Art + Design 2023, a stunning example being ‘Sakura’ by Dutch artist Maarten Vrolijk, presented by Todd Merrill Studio

As the result of a growing push to revive artisanal traditions, glass has re-emerged as one of the most dynamic mediums. The ability to transform sand into a translucent solid hasn’t gone amiss for those who appreciate the finer things, and yet it isn’t always easy to avoid the pitfalls of kitsch, cartoon-like figurines found in tourist shops. Implementing this ancient, almost alchemical, material in innovative and refined form is a feat. Case in point: Dutch artist Maarten Vrolijk. The talent is able to distill some of the natural world’s most fundamental qualities—color, shape, fragility, strength, transparency, and ephemerality in abstract yet succinct forms. His Sakura vessel, on view during Salon Art + Design with New York gallery Todd Merrill Studio stands testament to a growing impetus among craft-led artist and designer to innovate glass; utilizing this medium in new, viscerally engaging, applications. 

Expressive Textile 

Brussels gallery Spazio Nobile Gallery presented the fiber tapestry 'Waiting for Color After The Storm' by Chicago-based Jacqueline Surdell at Salon Art + Design 2023 – Effect Magazine
Brussels gallery Spazio Nobile Gallery presented the fiber tapestry ‘Waiting for Color After The Storm’ by Chicago-based Jacqueline Surdell at Salon Art + Design 2023

Textile or fiber, as it’s more loosely defined these days, is yet another medium being reinterpreted by a diverse range of creatives. At the intersection of art, craft, and design, this manually produced material has been a cornerstone of the human experience since the dawn of civilization. And yet, it’s been usurped by industry, fast fashion, and the forces of overconsumption in the past few centuries. Seeking to reclaim textile as something far more artistic, singular, and valuable are emerging fiber-artists like Chicago-based Jacqueline Surdell. For her, the especially painterly and even sculptural works she creates—the Waiting for Color After The Storm tapestry on view at the fair with Brussels gallery Spazio Nobile Gallery, for example—is a holistic manifestation of process. The almost meditative yet labor-intensive practice of weaving, knitting, and cumulatively assembling material is evidence of physical stamina. Like with much of the output of her contemporaries also redefining textile, Surdell’s bespoke pieces take on graphical and visceral qualities in equal measure.

Layered Materiality

Porcelain sculpture by Yulia Batyrova and Marat Mukhametov at Salon Art + Design presented by Mia Karlova Galerie - Effect Magazine
Layered materiality: a beautifully delicate and nuanced porcelain sculpture by Yulia Batyrova and Marat Mukhametov was presented at Salon Art + Design by Amsterdam-based Mia Karlova Galerie

Finding ways to cohesively collage and meld together different, seemingly disparate components, is not easy. Layering—even in a mono-material application—is a useful technique that lets artists and designers infuse their work with visual and tactile complexity. Whether achieved with recycled polymers or forged bronze, the possibilities seem endless. For Moscow-based artistic duo Yulia Batyrova and Marat Mukhametov, mastering the manual formation, firing, and combination of especially temperamental porcelain has proven to be fruitful as a way of expressing movement; the incredibly nuanced quality of shapeless fluency. On view at Salon Art + Design with Amsterdam-based Mia Karlova Galerie, the studio’s Fluid sculpture is both evidence of artisanal precision and the aesthetic potency of layering. 

Collectible Accessories 

Alexandra Llewellyn’s detailed Vortex Marquetry Tournament Backgammon  at Salon Art + Design 2023 – Effect Magazine
One of the contemporary collectible accessories evident at 2023’s Salon Art + Design was Alexandra Llewellyn’s detailed Vortex Marquetry Tournament Backgammon. The design represents the finest translation of age-old inlaid wood techniques

Looking beyond the conventional formats of furniture, lighting, ceramics, and textiles, the ever-evolving collectible design is now also shifting to include smaller accessories: bespoke kitchenware, games sets, and even toys. It’s all about bringing in a new generation of collectors, who might not be able to spend $100,000 on a one-off credenza. With the recent acquisition of Design Miami/ by seller-focused e-commerce platform Basic.Space, it’s clear that this trend doesn’t just include the lucrative inclusion of even more expensive sports cars and watches. The New York-based virtual platform sells everything from limited edition baseball cards to fine art sculpture. 

Alexandra Llewellyn’s artisanal backgammon set at Salon Art + Design 2023 – Effect Magazine
Alexandra Llewellyn’s artisanal backgammon set represents age-old inlaid wood techniques

Operating with a somewhat similar mission—providing a platform for contemporary artisans operation around the world—online marketplace ABASK made its Salon Art + Design debut this year. Hundreds of functional objects were presented within a bold, all-green backdrop. Among this dynamic offering was London-based Alexandra Llewellyn’s incredibly detailed Vortex Marquetry Tournament Backgammon. The design represents the finest translation of age-old inlaid wood techniques. Produced by an impressive network of nine artisanal workshops throughout the UK, this unique piece demonstrates that sumptuous materials and the highest standards of craftsmanship can be harnessed in almost any application.

Read more:  Design Fairs | Design | Interior Designers I Interiors | Antiques | Vintage | New York | USA | Mid-Century