Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Bavaria by Studio Job presented by Moss Gallery of Art and Design

Art Basel Miami 2008

Just back from Art Basel and Art Design in Miami, one of the largest art and design shows in the world. ("Art" includes paintings, drawings, photographs, things that hang on the wall or stand on the floor or table and look good. "Design" includes chairs, tables, dinnerware and things that look good and are useful.) I see things through the eyes of a "collector of the past," so my views are biased. I noticed things at the shows that had borrowed from the past.

Moss Gallery of New York City is known for selling the latest modern pieces, so I was surprised to see a set of Bavarian furniture made by Studio Job of the Netherlands. There were six different Indian rosewood pieces with colorful laser-cut inlay of animals, birds and trees. Seventeen different colored dyes and many types of wood were used. It looked like a child's drawing of a farm. Very different from the other furniture at the show--a LOT more color--but at $70,000 to $125,000 for one piece, it seemed too playful and different to sell

well. Shows what I know about the buyers of the ultra-modern. I heard three of the six-piece sets sold in the first two days.

The good news about the show is that the economy did not ruin the show--although the early newspaper reports said it did. The crowds were a little smaller and buying carefully. Last year it was "Grab it as soon as you see it." This year it was "Take your time, check to see if the price could be lower, and buy carefully." There have been many doom-and-gloom articles about the collecting world, but we have seen that "good" will sell, "great" will still sell for high prices, and "ordinary" has problems unless it's useful (like a chair or kitchen bowls). But all require extra effort in marketing and display. (A longer report, "Everything That's Old Is New Again," will be in our February "Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles" newsletter.)


sofyblu2 said...

How true. Customers are being so much more selective in these hard times. As a seller at our sales have been escalating and customers are looking for the most "bang out of their buck". Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

jeanne said...

I did a show in early November in Puyallup WA and it was one of my best shows ever! I was wondering how the economy would affect sales, since everything I take to shows is "non-essential". (At my shop, furniture is my bread & butter but I only take smalls to shows.)
The crowds were good all three days and people were buying, both for themselves and as gifts. BUT- I keep my prices reasonable, give up to 20% discounts on items I've had too long and don't try to squeeze every penny out of an item's value. A good attitude is essential too - cranky dealers don't sell much!