As Frieze week descends, PAD has erected its eclectic Aladdin’s cave of antique treasures and cutting-edge contemporary design in upscale Mayfair once more. Truly Parisian at its heart (the fair crossed the Channel for the first time 10 years ago) PAD is a sophisticated show for the serious collectors and industry folk; standing next to me outside waiting for the show to open is interior designer and Dragon’s Den star Kelly Hoppen, inside we spot a member of the Rothschild family perusing Rose Uniacke’s stand (she was David and Victoria Beckham’s decorator of choice).
So yes, it’s a bit elitist, but it’s also a great place to get some ideas and inspiration – design geeks will appreciate the incredible amount of rare and glorious French and Italian 20th-century design on display from the likes of Gio Ponti and to Charlotte Perriand, while art lovers will get to see works from the likes of Alexander Calder and René Magritte. In a way, it’s a better and more informal way to view a wide range of art and design by blockbuster names than visiting a large institution on a busy weekend – and it’s a fair bit more civilised, too.
While the show only runs from October 2–8, even if you don’t manage to visit it, there is plenty to learn from what’s on display. Despite the mix of old and new, the show still offers a glimpse of what’s on trend and what’s desirable right now by the nature of the way it’s curated. So here are some highlights and key pointers from the show that you can take away and apply to your very own home.
Add a touch of luxury
There’s a real focus in the design world right now on precious, natural materials – pieces on display ranged from contemporary designs such as crafted in verde Guatemala marble to a chandelier adorned with rock crystal, which was made for Coco Chanel by Robert Goossens. Stones like quartz and marble are still very much on trend, but there’s a move towards pink tones, demonstrated by pieces such as Studio MVW’s stunning Jinshi pink jade coffee table, which was shown by Galerie BSL. There were also a multitude of pieces that used materials such as plastic to appear like precious objects, such as the Stone Fossil Obsidian made from resin by Studio Nucleo and the Abyss coffee table by Christopher Duffy, which was exhibited by the Sarah Myerscough Gallery.
As materials such as marble and quartz have become increasingly popular, it’s not hard to introduce these materials into the home at an affordable price. The key is to buy timeless pieces that are fit for purpose rather than gimmicky designs as, quite frankly, the high street has gone a bit mad for marble, just as it went crazy for copper. Don’t buy, for example, a marble pepper mill; opt for a small, beautifully crafted side table in a living space, or add a bespoke feel to an off-the-peg kitchen by investing in a marble worktop.
Get your hands on tactile designs
A predominant theme of this year’s show was tactility, with designs ranging from a huge hand-tufted wall hanging on the Pinto Paris stand that was begging to be stroked to a squishy mohair bench by Ditte Hammerstrøm on the Mariawettergren Galerie booth. Another intriguing collection was that of South Korean designer Wonmin Park, whose Plain Cuts solo exhibition of tables was represented by the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Wonmin has experimented with patinated aluminium to achieve an unusual yet beautiful and distinctive finish that adds another dimension to the pieces.
Some designs at PAD might be more off the wall than others, but the lesson learned here is that tactility and diversity in materials is what will instantly make a room more interesting. Experiment with texture, whether it’s simply layering soft furnishings or looking at the materials your introducing into the scheme – don’t choose off-the-shelf furniture all in one, bland material or style. Instead, add personality by blending antique timber pieces that have characterful knots and grains with sleek, clean-lined metal or glass designs.
Invest in interactive art – it’s the future
Forget hanging paintings on your wall, the next big thing is interactive digital artworks for the home – the Rossana Orlandi stand showcased two pieces from its Anotherview series that ‘transforms your home into a nomadic place, where a virtual window leads to unexpected landscapes or cities’. The window frames are based on the archetypal architectural style of the location that’s featured in the rolling 24-hour video – one is a view from Palazzetto Pisani in Venice, another is towards Okaukuejo waterhole in Africa. Contemporary art and design gallery Priveekollektie also had digital media on display by artist Dominic Harris who ‘blends nature with code’ to create interactive flower scenes that are like modern-day Dutch Masters.
While these one-off pieces may be out of your price range, increasingly more and more companies are latching onto this concept of displaying digital art at home, such as Depict and Klio Art, whether you want to buy a digital version of an existing masterpiece or a new digital work by an established artist.
Most of all, be playful
While this might all seem very serious, it’s actually important to have fun with your interior design and to inject some personality in the space. Look at introducing unique and colourful objects such as this porcelain cabinet by Doshi Levien, which was exhibited by Sevres, or the playful Dragonfly coffee table by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, which experiments with semi-transparent and opaque surfaces. Rather than choose something to achieve a certain style or theme, such as a retro or minimalist, go on the hunt for one-off pieces made by up-and-coming graduate designers or commission a local craftsman to create a bespoke piece for you. The upshot is to choose pieces you really love and whether they go together or not is up to you.
PAD London runs from October 2–8 at Berkeley Square, London. PAD will next appear in Geneva from February 1–4, 2018 and then in Paris from March 21–25, 2018. For more information, visit the site here.