Fairs USA

A critic’s guide to the satellite fairs: Collective.1

Christian Viveros-Fauné starts off Frieze week at New York’s “bright new penny” design fair

Sebastian Errazuriz's BLOW ME, 2013 with Cristina Grajales Gallery at the Collective.1 Design Fair

Step off the West Side Highway at 15th Street and you’ll encounter New York’s new fair this week: Collective.1, a curated show featuring just 24 international design galleries. Unlike many similar art events in November, May’s design event makes original contributions to Gotham’s fair landscape right out of the gate. With respect to the city’s design portfolio, this show is already the year’s bright new penny.

Housed inside a massive concrete and metal warehouse plonked atop Pier 57, Collective.1 welcomes visitors with several functional art installations, among them Sebastian Errazuriz’s ten-foot sculpture made from rows of industrial fans and a strip of neon (courtesy of New York’s Cristina Grajales Gallery). According to the artist, the work is intended to ward off fair fatigue. Step on a foot pedal and its mighty winds make the 2013 sculpture’s title literal: BLOW ME

Travel down a makeshift hall and the building’s industrial guts (it’s last regular use was as a bus depot) give way to an irregular track of medium and large-sized exhibition spaces. Floor-to-ceiling windows are smartly cut into the sides for light. The place breathes air that’s both rarefied and accessible enough to host Swedish and Latin American mid-century masterpieces, as well as last week’s studio work from emerging global talents.

What better place, then, to find a dining room and sitting areas designed by the celebrated Mexican architect Luis Barragán from his famous Casa Eduardo Prieto Lopez in Mexico City at New York’s Sebastian + Barquet; a gorgeously low-slung, vintage chaise lounge made from stainless steel and fabric by the French designer Maria Pergay at Paris’s Jousse Entreprise; a glass, sand and epoxy wedge-shaped wall divider by Jonathan Muecke that marries innovative sculpture and pure function at Chicago’s Volume Gallery; and a weightless, hand-carved and stained balsawood mobile by the German artist Derick Pobell, who apparently makes just six of these amazing objects a year at Stockholm’s Modernity—a mere $12,000 would animate the ceiling of any home.

Part Gordon Matta-Clark anarchitectural intervention and part fancy showroom, Collective.1 is the brainchild of Steven Learner, a New York architect and interior designer who has built some of the city’s handsomer galleries. An effort, as he puts it, to both “create a fair focused exclusively on 20th- and 21st-century material” and “make design inclusive enough to cost anywhere from $40 to $300,000,” his freshman effort is nothing if not well-planned, daring, and original.

Derick Pobell's mobile, 2013, with Stockholm's Modernity
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