December 1st, 2008
Art Basel Miami Beach
Zesty Meyers and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn
At his R 20th Century gallery in New York, this design-world renaissance man sits down with one of Uptown's most astute art dealers to talk about design's coming of age through its marriage with art.
Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn: There's a lot of crossover between our worlds right now. Who's on the top of your list of artists bridging art and design?
Zesty Meyers: One would be Roy McMakin: He's a furniture maker, but is the work furniture or art? It's a really interesting subject to bring up. I think there's going to be more of these crossovers.
JGR: I agree. Right next to my booth, on the last day of Frieze, there was an installation that Ron Arad did for the Timothy Taylor Gallery that was interesting to me. When I first started showing at Frieze, it was dedicated specifically to art, and there was not supposed to be any furniture design at the fair. And when we applied with this Gamper project, we wrote a letter stating that we considered it an art project rather than a design project. Immediately Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover were completely positive. They said to absolutely go ahead with this project. Just five years ago it would not have been accepted in an art context.
ZM: I think more and more, the art dealers will be showing these projects. There seems to be a future between the two disciplines. And there are artists questioning, 'Is this really for the art world or the design world?'
ZM: We can talk about Paula Hayes' work in this sense, too.
JGR: Perhaps even more so, because she moves from garden design to interior design to art. I consider the terrariums that we've made in collaboration as complete works of art - they're living works of art. They exist in this other universe we haven't seen before. When I go to a collector's home, he or she is not thinking of the terrariums as a replacement for a floral centerpiece. They're thinking of them as works of art. That's a different space Paula's carved out for herself.
ZM: We've always had a crossover of clientele. One's more downtown, one's more uptown. Yet they both want unique and great things.
JGR: That was the most interesting thing I found when I began working with Paula: We knew the same people, so it seemed natural to work on a project together. It means the collector base - which normally focuses on furniture or art - is starting to do both simultaneously.
ZM: It's the idea of defining taste. Why shouldn't these worlds work together to create the best environment for the individual?
JGR: But you still have to convert me. I grew up in an environment where furniture has taken second or third place, financially. Any money was allocated for art. In recent years a sophisticated person will come to my house and ask, 'Why are you living with this bohemian furniture? Why haven't you upgraded, or thought about young designers to do this?'
ZM: You've done that some. The Design Art London fair worked out pretty well, too, in that sense. Compared to the art market, I can't see how the economy for design won't grow in scale.
JGR: The design world has a much bigger growth