Art market

Contemporary decorative arts at Bonhams for £50 to £48,000

The 'futures' department aims at spotting the antiques of tomorrow



London has few easily accessible, high-profile market places for contemporary crafts. Many people end up in Conran or Heals because they have no idea how to find more original pieces for their homes. Bonhams, who are well known for their innovatory approach to contemporary markets, have recently established a “Futures” Department aimed at spotting the antique of tomorrow, and their annual Decorative Arts Today exhibition reflects this policy. Each January the saleroom turns into a gallery selling the work of over 100 British designers most of whom do not usually come up at auction. It is an eclectic mix, with some work of a very high standard (Ron Arad, Danny Lane, John Makepeace and Rod Kelly) rubbing cheeks with those fresh from college and still floundering to find their way. Prices from £50 to £48,000 reflect this mixture of talent and experience. On display will be furniture, metalwork, lighting, wall hangings, carpets, ceramics, glass silver and jewellery. Check out Helen Allen’s upholstered jigsaw seating which locks together; the titanium “noodle stools” by Cristina Lamiquiz; tangled glass chandeliers by Deborah Thomas; Robert McEwan’s new cutlery designs and of course, de rigueur for every aspiring socialite, Lara Bohinc’s nose rings. Sotheby’s initiated a similar exhibition last year, curated by ex-Saatchi Gallery employee and design guru Janice Blackburn. While their clientele are less open to contemporary craft, it was enough of a success to be repeated this year. There is considerable overlap in the choice of designers and it will be interesting to compare the approaches of the two auction houses. Decorative Arts Today is at Bonhams from 29 January to 4 February and Contemporary Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s from 5 February to 13 February.