March 27 2023

Collectable design - what's happening on the art-design scene after Covid.


It is difficult to accept that design products can be collected.
Their nature is related to industrial production and, therefore, serial production and wide availability. As Cooper Hewitt, former art director of Design Miami, where the name Collectable design originated, says - "People don't find the word craft sexy enough, so we embraced the idea of collectable design, and a different type of interest, connoisseurs and attention was created. "
As you probably remember, in 2006-2007, a boom began with the limited editions of design companies, which managed, in this way, to direct attention to the specific nature of modern products. Some of them are the result of a special fusion between industry, new technologies and craftsmanship.
These products are also the object of collectors' interest. But unlike art, design needs a certain amount of aging time in which the product shows its exceptional qualities and proves itself as belonging to a certain cultural community. So that at the moment the interest is in objects or objects created in the 1950s and 1960s, and lately attention is being directed to the 1980s.
Such are the historical Philippe Stark, Ettore Sottsass, Martin Szekely...
In order to be noticed by collectors, a product must meet the following conditions - according to Domenico Raimondo - Director of the most important auction house - Phillips:
- Origin;
- a certain place in the history of design;
- strong identity.
The facts say that neither Covid nor inflation has negatively affected the collectibles market. Even in 2022, a significant increase in sales was noted. The latest Phillips auction set a world record with sales of €5,800 million for products by Mario Gottardi, Edmund De Waal, Gino Sarfatti and Studio BBPR.
What is the conclusion of all this? At first, there is an increasing interest in products with a craft character. Obviously, we are entering a new situation, which can be called - post-industrial - in which people are trying to restore the connection with the uniqueness of what was created by human hands, at the expense of the perfection that can be achieved by the machine. To a certain extent, certain "defects" are allowed to remind of the authenticity of the material or the processing. Because defects can never be repeated or completely identical. On the other hand, utilitarian items have never come close to being appreciated as works of art. We are witnessing a process of dissolution of art in all spheres of creation and creativity, incl. Industrial production. Yet the differences do not change. Here is what one of the best-selling living designers – Martin Szekely – has to say:
"There is nothing more distant from a picture, text, play or film than the chair. The material side of art is a surface that hides the real content. In contrast, the only thing a chair reveals is itself. Not to mention the fact that when you sit on the net, it becomes invisible..."