19 May 2021
COLLECTIBLE: What tips would you give to a collector who wishes to start collecting contemporary design?
Galerija Vartai: I would suggest that you first take some time to immerse yourself in the world of collectible design. Visit museums, galleries, fairs, talk to experts, read design magazines, understand where your focus is, what attracts your attention the most. And finally, when you feel ready, only buy things that you really have a strong attraction to, even if your intention is an investment. That's the only way a mistake - and we all are likely to make one or another along the way - won't be so painful, because even if the price of your design work doesn't go up much in the future, you'd still have a piece you like and enjoy every day.
I would also recommend starting with work by young, up-and-coming designers to keep your investment manageable and minimise risk should your tastes or preferences change over the course of your collecting career.
“ Works of art and collectible design are different, they have a different energy, are charged with different narratives and therefore keep our emotional relationship with them permanently alive.”
C: What do you think collectible design brings compared to other more massively produced pieces?
GV: We are all surrounded by practical, useful, perhaps beautiful things that make our lives easier, richer and more comfortable. But generally, we get used to them and overlook them over time. Works of art and collectible design are different, they have a different energy, are charged with different narratives and therefore keep our emotional relationship with them permanently alive.
C: How did you get into collectible design?
GV: Over the past decades, we have successfully run a contemporary art gallery that has earned a reputation as one of the most progressive galleries in the Baltic countries, presenting a wide range of international artists, from world-renowned artists to young artists at the beginning of their careers.
Being involved in other areas of art and culture, we noticed that Lithuanian design stood out from graphic to fashion or product design, but there was no professional representation for collectible design, which we found to be extremely strong. This situation did not change over several years, so we thought it was the perfect moment to start combining both, contemporary art and collectible design. We were thinking about expanding our field of activity anyway, so why not be the pioneers again, not only in Lithuania, but also in the Baltic States. Although it is quite a challenge to combine the two fields, the boundaries between them have dissolved in recent years, and it seems only natural to help our collectors discover collectible design as well.
We started with a curated international contextual design exhibition late in 2019 and continued with participation in the Collectible Design fair in Brussels in 2020. At the moment we are preparing our second international design exhibition, which will take place in June.
C: Can you talk about the designers you present for COLLECTIBLE SALON, what makes their practice/pieces unique?
We are pleased to present design projects by 9 individual and collaborative designers from different countries, including objects designed especially for the fair. All artists work with very different practices, materials and conceptual references, but they all share an ecological consistency and a contextual approach to making objects. Given today's political, environmental and economic situation, they go beyond the usual search for form and function to meet an esthetic and functional need. They seek to contribute to positive social processes through their creative outcomes and processes that incorporate research in science, technology, healthcare, etc.
Lucas Muñoz Muñoz reinterprets industrial materials and brings them to light, assigning them entirely new functional roles and creating elegantly shaped, cozy elements for the domestic environment. His Antigoon armchair is a unique piece made from ventilation pipes lying unused on the construction site. The connecting leather belt and illustrations by Dutch street artist Antiggon loosen it up and make it stand out.
Marija Puipaitė and Vytautas Gečas have conducted an artistic investigation of the decor. Starting from the idea that the concept of Baroque was associated with something "peculiar and unnecessarily complicated" at the beginning of its era, they related it to the devaluation of the decorative in our everyday environment. In order to bring the decorative back into the present, Marija Puipaitė and Vytautas Gečas used decorative elements such as frames or folds and transformed them into autonomous, almost deliberately functional pieces, like the frame of a mirror that has itself become a mirror.
Etienne Marc looks back to classical and excessively ornamental interior elements and contrasts this conservative beauty with contemporary scenes perceived as banal. Infused with symbolism, his work combines the marvelous and the bizarre, creating a tension between objects that symbolise luxury and the materialism of our time.
With his hands-on practice and profound interest in materials, their behavior and the meanings conveyed, it is fascinating how he allows the natural processes of porcelain heated at high temperature to distort symmetry and create shapes as if nature had created them (Strelitzia, single stem floor lamp, 2020)
The Buoy stool, which will make you happier while working at your desk, was designed by Govert Flint with the Enrichers design team. He conducted a study in collaboration with professional dancers to find out what kind of movement creates positive emotions. Buoy provides a constant movement of your body that generates positive emotions while subconsciously keeping you fit and healthy. (Buoy - Mirage, 2021, a limited edition piece whose shell reflects the environment and allows you to see the entire room in it ).
Martynas Kazimierėnas' Private Sunset, a wall lamp that floods the entire room with a warm, yellow light, the brightness of which can be adjusted as needed, creates a magical, meditative atmosphere and at the same time has an industrial aesthetic, as none of the internal parts of the lamp are hidden.
Bram Vanderbeke has collaborated with Wendy Andreu to design an architectural shelf made of flat, laser-cut aluminium sheets. No screws, rivets or welding were used, so the shelf can be easily assembled and disassembled. Many different scales and shapes can be derived from this modular system, suggesting an endless possibility of growth. Through repeated gestures, the pyramid grows like a totemic object, far beyond its possible function, and sometimes in spite of it.
Barbora Žilinskaitė questions the possibilities of environmental influence on human beings and translates her ideas into functional objects. During the creative process she tries to distance herself from definitions of practices and combines different methods into one. Project Roommates is a collection of personalized furniture pieces designed to fascinate human emotions and change the way we perceive objects around us. All the pieces in the collection are sculpted with a material created by the designer, which consists of wood dust, pigments and wood glue.
Katryna Sasauskaite 's LINEA furniture design is inspired by the simplicity and unpredictability of nature, and focuses on analyzing how curved lines from nature can be applied to objects that suit contemporary lifestyles. The objects combine two different feelings: soft and cold, industrial and natural.
About Galerija Vartai
Founded in 1991, Galerija Vartai is the leading contemporary art gallery in the Baltics. The gallery represents and exhibits emerging as well as established artists from Lithuania and abroad.