Visiting the Salon Art + Design Fair

Looking over the drill hall of the Park Avenue Armory is an antique Tiffany clock, its face marked with Roman numerals and its hands like pokers. When it struck 5pm last night, well dressed ladies and gentlemen began streaming into the space, which was lavishly adorned for the third annual Salon Art + Design Fair. An elegant piece of decoration itself, the Tiffany clock was the perfect timepiece to count the moments as dealers snapped into action while visitors dispersed into the three aisles of booths. The fair’s emphasis is on contemporary objects, although select merchants specialize in pieces from the 20th, 19th, and 18th centuries. Wandering about we overheard a few telling snippets: “But it is authentic?” “A lot of these things, prices are negotiable,” “It’s created as a miracle of nature in China…a lost art,” and “It’s lovely, but would it go with the chairs?”

A sister fair to the Paris Biennale, Salon distinguishes itself by offering a simple visual splendor that is undermined in many other art fairs by flashy, attention-seeking curatorial practices. And that’s on purpose: The 55 booths at Salon are decorated so one might be able to picture their own dream living room, not an ideal art collection. While the fair is the only one to include fine art and design objects, various displays seamlessly integrate both elements into mock interiors. The most animated piece by far was Moderne Gallery’s nearly seven-foot-tall sculpture that resembled a molecular structure, titled Diamond, which balanced on one pivot and rocked back and forth when pushed, startling passerby who thought it was toppling over.

Fair organizers Jill Bokor and Jen Roberts were busy attending to last minute arrangements opening night, so we caught them on the phone a few weeks in advance. With Bokor coming from a background as the publisher of Art+Auction and Roberts as the founding publisher of Modern, they collectively have an understanding of every aspect driving the design market. “A big part of the buying is done by designers for their clients for projects they’re working on. This is a can’t-miss in the architecture and design community” says Bokor. “Also, the fashion world is becoming interconnected with this sort of design, and we’re getting a lot of traction for fashion figures who see this as a very chic and important show.”

“So many fashion designers are tastemakers creating unique designs and unique interiors and they want to live uniquely,” adds Roberts. “This is a place where you go to find things that you’re not going to see everywhere.