Art collectors who already have a Gerhard Richter for over the sofa are finding a whole new way to empty their wallets in Basel this summer. A short tram ride away from the main show at the big art fair, Art Basel, is Design Miami Basel, an event designed to showcase the joys of buying high-end furniture for collectors who want to move on from fine art.
Design Miami Basel premiered last December when Art Basel was in Miami, with a show dubbed Design Miami .05. In its first iteration, with 15 galleries showing, it did an impressive $7 million worth of business in four days. This is the show’s first appearance in Basel, and early signs are promising. Alashdair Willis, CEO of Established & Sons, the British firm that this year won the event’s Designer of the Future award, said he had already sold four of the $20,000 Zaha Hadid tables he was featuring by the second day of the show.
Curated by Ambra Medda, a 25-year-old Sardinian, the show is featuring work by such American galleries as New York’s Barry Friedman, who had three Ron Arad chairs on display, including a fabulous cherry red acrylic one that one of the gallery’s assistants swore was as comfortable as a dentist’s chair — without the drill.
One piece worth watching: a table by super-hot Aussie designer Marc Newson, on display at Gallery Italienne. One of Newson’s earlier works, a lounge chair that was less than 10 years old, sold two weeks ago for $520,000 at an auction at Philips de Pury in New York. As for the price of the table, the gallery’s owner just smiled. “I’ll see what I’m offered,” she said.