Untethered to a fixed brick and mortar space in one city or another, a nomadic gallery has the advantage of setting up (temporary) shop in some of the most emblematic locales. Whether their wears feature prominently at an exhaustive list of fairs, in storied buildings, or in recently completed real estate projects, this type of platform often enters into and benefits from, win-win situations.
These purveyors sell better when showcasing their collections in aptly-decorated contexts while the proprietors of these sumptuous settings can promote their venues more holistically. For the arbiters of historic palaces and stately homes, this type of program represents the chance to recontextualize and, in turn, shed new light on often forgotten sites. For developers of new residential projects, this type of arrangement puts a spin on the timeworn practice of open houses and helps their real estate agents sell more units.
Brightening up a dreary, albeit warm, New York January is a special exhibition mounted by Beirut and Paris-based collectible design gallery Gabriel & Guillaume. Staged in the penthouse of the SHoP Architects and Studio Sofield-restored 111 West 57th Street building in Midtown Manhattan, the L’Œi’l du Collectionneur showcase brings together an eclectic array of historical and contemporary furnishings, presented in various domestic vignettes. The atypical initiative was conceived by marketing agency frenchCALIFORNIA, in partnership with JDS Development Group, Property Markets Group, and Spruce Capital Partners.
The showcase takes over much of the grand 5,269 square-foot Landmark Penthouse, once owned by Frederick T. Steinway of the eponymous piano company. Its famous concert hall once occupied the ground floor. Wrapped by terraces on two levels, the palatial unit serves as the perfect backdrop for elegant chaise lounges and florid carpets. Arched french doors and vaulted ceilings play host to one of Zaha Hadid’s earliest sofa designs and a geometrically-earnest 1930s Gio Ponti bookcase. Rare examples of Brazilian Modernist master José Zanine Caldas’s amoebic output join far more minimalistic pieces by contemporary French designer Martin Szekely.
Carefully restored architectural flourishes, found throughout this $21 million duplex, are complemented by several masterpieces: the works of Gabriella Crespi, Gino Sarfatti, Ico Parisi, and Ettore Sottsass; contemporary Lebanese talents Ranya Sarakbi and Niko Koronis, MariaGroup + Spock Design, and George Mohasseb. Adorning the walls are seminal photographs by Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, paintings by Hans Hartung and Max Ernst, and sculptures by Jean-Michel Othoniel and Bernar Venet.
This tour de force mise-en-scene gives fervor to the emerging collective-collectible trend. Gabriel & Guillaume founders Nancy Gabriel and Guillaume Excoffier are no strangers to this new commercial model. Since taking the niche market by storm in 2013, the illustrious pair has mounted a number of similar, integrated showcases in Pairs and Beirut.