Visual Design and Artistic Intelligence

“Design” is a many-facetted word that encompasses everything from the elaboration of technical issues in the plans for a manmade object to purely visual concerns about what it looks like. For philosophers, design implies a pattern and a purpose.

Today, however, “design” has become a catchall word referring to something with an artistic intelligence behind its conception, as in “designer furniture,” “design hotel,” etc. In the public consciousness, design has become synonymous with art. A good piece of design – whether it be a building or a teapot – is now seen as a work of art that just happens to have a purpose.

Design and art can no longer be kept apart. Like a good work of art, a good work of design can surprise, shock or sicken you, make you laugh or cry, but will never leave you indifferent.

Design comes in many packages, so to speak, and surrounds us in every moment of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. And the art of design is not a recent invention. “Design contre Design,” the current exhibition at Paris’s Grand Palais, offers examples of human attempts to turn useful objects into art over the ages, among them a pair of faience saltcellars from the Bavarian court dating from 1576 and a Biedermeier armchair from 1820, but we can go back much further back in the history of China or Egypt, for example, to find countless illustrations of this basic human impulse to be surrounded by beautiful objects.

Like art, design cannot be governed by any particular idea of “good taste”, such as that represented by a certain vision of elegant black, brown or beige decor. Good design comes in all possible shapes, sizes, colours and materials, from Wieki Somers’ animal-skull teapot with a fur cosy to the pure, geometric lines of a table by Josef Hoffmann or the beautiful simplicity of a chair by Jean Prouvé. Jeroen Verhoeven’s “Cinderella table”, also in the Paris show, is pure sculpture, as are the animal-shaped pieces by François-Xavier Lalanne, which make little pretence to functionality, and Zaha Hadid’s “Iceberg” bench.

Design objects are setting dizzying records at contemporary art auction these days, and collectors are rediscovering once-forgotten designers like Prouvé. And the taste of the public, notably in fast-growing economies like China, India and Russia, is rapidly becoming more sophisticated and discerning.

The International Herald Tribune recently hailed “the emergence of a new design-art scene in London”, and one of its manifestations is DesignArt London, which will showcase works by some of the world’s most renowned post-war designers, ranging from Prouvé and Le Corbusier to today’s superstars, including Marc Newson, Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad and the Bouroullec Brothers. DesignArt London will offer an exciting new platform for design as respected artistic medium.

“The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is the artistry.”
Bill Bernbach

Behind DesignArt London is a wealth of experience and expertise in the art world, represented by SOC (Société d’Organisation Culturelle), a Paris-based company dedicated to the organization of art fairs.

SOC was founded by Stéphane Custot and Patrick Perrin in 1996. These two dynamic young Parisian art dealers have earned reputations not only for their high standards of professionalism in their respective fields, but also for their skilful organization of one of Paris’s most highly respected art fairs, the Pavillon des Arts et du Design, the 12th edition of which will be held in April 2008 in Paris’s Tuileries Garden. They also founded Paris’s prestigious Salon du Dessin in 1991.

Stéphane Custot is the co-owner, with Waring Hopkins, of Galerie Hopkins-Custot, founded in 1984 and now one of the leading specialists in 20th-century art and design, notably presenting the work of Botero, Mondrian, Dubuffet, Rouault, Vlaminck, Léger, Picasso, Matisse, Calder and many others. The gallery exhibits regularly at some of the world’s most important art fairs, including Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, Tefaf Maastricht and La Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.

Patrick Perrin, the director of SOC, is the scion of a family of distinguished French art and antiques dealers specializing primarily in 18th-century French furniture and objets d’art. After running the gallery on Paris’s Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré for many years, Perrin now devotes himself to art fair and other projects through SOC.

Every detail of the organization of both DesignArt London and the Pavillon des Arts et du Design is directly handled by SOC, from the initial conception to the selection of exhibitors and the committee of experts, catalogue design, and communications with the press, public and exhibitors. SOC also manages all of the fairs’ technical aspects from start to finish.

This one-stop-shop approach to art fair organization guarantees both exhibitors and visitors a quality experience at every level.

Thanks to its expertise in art fair organization, SOC has also been tapped as the operator for other prestigious art events: the Moscow World Fine Art Fair, the Salzburg World Fine Art Fair and the Biennale de Monaco.
SOC will soon extend its reach across the Atlantic with the introduction of Pavillon of Art and Design New York in the near future.

The growing interest in design art goes hand-in-hand with the booming modern and contemporary art markets, inviting debate as to what separates art from design. Today, pieces of design are not only incorporated into contemporary art auctions but have also fetched record-breaking prices. Design London will offer an exciting new platform for design as respected artistic medium.

Behind this new fair is a wealth of experience and expertise in the art world, represented by SOC (Société d’Organisation Culturelle), a Paris-based company dedicated to the organization of art fairs.

SOC was founded by Patrick Perrin and Stéphane Custot in 1996. These two dynamic young Parisian art dealers, the former specializing in antiques and the later in modern and contemporary paintings, have earned reputations not only for their high standards of professionalism in their respective fields, but also for their skilful organization of one of Paris’s most highly respected art fairs, the Pavillon des Arts et du Design, the 12th edition of which will be held in April 2008 in Paris’s Tuileries Garden.

Every detail of the organization of both DesignArt London and the Pavillon des Arts et du Design is directly handled by SOC, from the initial conception to the selection of exhibitors and the committee of experts, catalogue design, and communications with the press, public and exhibitors. SOC also manages all of the fairs’ technical aspects from start to finish, including choice of venue and stand installation and breakdown.

This one-stop-shop approach to art fair organization guarantees both exhibitors and visitors a quality experience at every level.

Thanks to its expertise in art fair organization, SOC has also been tapped as the technical operator for other prestigious art events: the Moscow World Fine Art Fair, the Salzburg World Fine Art Fair and the Biennale de Monaco.

SOC will soon extend its reach across the Atlantic with the introduction of Design Art New York in the near future.

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