I started blogging about this industry back in 2007 when I discovered Clinton Howell commentaries and his participation at shows. I saw him today, exhibiting in the revolutionary format of this year’s Spring Masters show. With Artvest Partners now in control they are attempting a different approach that is dramatic, and it works. Clinton suggested I write something about the show, as he obviously loved the change and extraordinary visual vistas of the show floor.
It works because of the creative and inventive approach taken by the architect, Rafael Viñoly. That antiques and art fairs so desperately need a new format is reflected in the fact that this show unfortunately was projected to be no better than the prior year show which was created by AADLA, or for that matter any highbrow style show. The whole idea of any show, be it a Pier Show, Brimfield, or any local event, is the grid layout that prevails as the only solution. Up one aisle and down the next; and (my method) repeat the process in reverse so you can really see the most merchandise at any show.
Mr. Viñoly’s design for the show has attempted to break that monotonous pattern with a fun, fantastic, and innovative approach to multi-dealer display. The magic is the open, almost interconnected feeling that is created by have transparent and angular walls within the layout of the booths. What made this all the more fun is how you almost get a certain vertigo in terms of “have I been here before”? This makes you look even harder at all the merchandise, and appreciate how the dealer mix from antiquities and art, to items of recent design, are somehow seamlessly connected.
Lost in this review is the merchandise and art that in on display. Yes it is of high quality and caliber, but why do some have prices and others do not? And if you need a set of chairs, not at this show. This fair isn’t necessarily for the decorator trade but really requires patrons who want to see a diverse exhibition of fine and decorative arts in a stimulating and contemporary environment. Being creative and innovative is how you can make it approachable to students and a younger generation of consumer. Imagine if every item in the show could be looked up on an iPad as you strolled the show?
Perhaps this style of show presentation will be replicated by other show promoters. It cannot help but foster some creative new approaches to dealer presentation as groups or individually. There should be a way to promote having a stimulating experience and interest in how and what we sell. But this original 2014 Spring Masters New York will be the standard reference as to what broke the “show” mold.