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Frieze week beyond the art



Design, art and fashion collide during Frieze week; Henrietta Thompson rounds up her highlights

  It has been a hectic and hedonistic month of culture and creativity for London, but this week – Frieze Week – is perhaps the best of all. A culmination of collectable (often also wearable) design, art and fashion – and all the intersections thereof – makes this the ultimate week to see and be seen around the capital.

Central to much of the activity is PAD. The Pavilion of Art and Design that pitches its luxury black tent around the trees of Mayfair’s Berkeley Square is now in its ninth year (we’re expecting a big party for 2016). Bringing a grand total of 63 international galleries to its aisles, its very particular mix of 20th century and contemporary curiosities never fails to delight, surprise or distract its visitors at every turn. From the refined Scandinavian sophistication at Modernity (the Swedish gallery showed Kaare Klint’s midcentury mahogany Daybed) to the outlandish and outsized wildlife (see the gilded life-size rhinoceros-cum-desk by Francois-Xavier Lalanne at Jean-David Botella), PAD’s interpretation of the phrase “something for everyone” is a unique one.

Deserved of a special mention at the fair are a few particular exhibits. Firstly, the Karbon lounge chair, designed by Konstantin Grcic and shown by Gallery Kreo, which is this year’s recipient of the Moët-Henessy PAD London Prize for Contemporary Design. The elegantly skewiff Twist Console and Stool by Carol Egin at Galerie BSL were drawing a lot of admiring looks, as were Nucleo’s mesmerising LapisLazuli Stone Fossil stools at Ammann Gallery, in which small fragments of a 200-year-old Italian oak tree are cast in blue epoxy resin.

Elsewhere across town there are many more highlights for design collectors, and several from fairly surprising sources. Over at Elisabetta Cipriani’s Heddon Street space, for example Pedro Cabrita Reis, a painter who once represented Portugal at the Venice bienniale, has turned his hand to jewellery. B by Pedro Cabrita Reis is a new show of seven especially commissioned sculptural bracelets in iron and 18-carat gold.

At Osborne Samuel Gallery, meanwhile, the creative juices are flowing the other way as the late modernist pioneer Eileen Gray is seen to have also been a dab hand with a paintbrush. Eileen Gray, The Private Painter is an exhibition of more than 60 paintings and photographs by the designer from the 1920s-1960, and includes some of the artist’s personal ephemera and letters to Le Corbusier and other close friends.

A little further north, in the Danish Church on the edge of Regents Park, another entirely different design experience comes courtesy of Chris Levine. The designer/artist, so far best known for his holographic portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, has had an extraordinary year, with a beautiful solo show at the Fine Art Society Contemporary earlier in the summer, a major work at the Eden Project and a commission to capture the Dalai Lama, among other fantastical projects, and there are many more in the pipeline to come.

For this latest work he has worked with Swarosvki to create an immersive and meditative show of laser light and sound within the church. Called Angel Presence, this latest chapter in Levine’s exploration of light and its effect on our sense of being sees an RGB 10W-scanning laser shot through a cluster of Swarovski crystals, refracting pink and purple light around the spiritual space in an infinitely changing pattern. It should all be reminiscent of a rave disco, but is in fact strangely mystical and calming in this setting. Wireless headphones provide visitors with their own private soundscape of magical healing frequencies.

It’s a perfect way to finish a month of relentless inspiration and multidisciplinary temptations. Take Levine’s lead and meditate on it.


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