Halyard chair designed by Hans Wegner for Getama, Denmark, 1950. Flag halyard, chromed steel and white lacquered steel. First edition with wooden feet. Courtesy of Modernity.
Veronese vase designed by Vittorio Zecchin, circa 1921. Courtesy of Glass Past New York.

Launched in May 2013 by the architect and interior designer Steven Learner, Collective Design was conceived by a passionate group of designers, curators, collectors, and gallerists who recognized a need for a new commercial and educational platform for design enthusiasts. In addition to this core ensemble, which includes the architect Alexander Gorlin, collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, design dealer Todd Merrill, and Cooper-Hewitt Director Caroline Baumann, the fair is guided by the Design Council -- a group of highly influential figures in the creative community that includes Jonathan Adler, Muriel Brandolini, Robert Couturier, Jamie Drake, Robert Stilin, Madeline Weinrib, Kelly Behun, James Huniford, Julianne Moore, Kelly Wearstler, and Steven Gambrel. Together, these industry leaders have created a truly singular event dedicated to exploring the significance of design.

Osvaldo Borsani for Tecno, Italy. Canada chair, 1965. Rosewood panels and vintage Italian upholstery fabric, H. 32, W. 31, D. 32, Seat H. 15 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Donzella 20th Century.

Held during Frieze Week, Collective Design occupies a unique space in New York’s spring arts calendar, which is packed with big-ticket auctions, art fairs, and exhibitions. In addition to presenting a compelling and beautiful overview of design from the 20th and 21st centuries, the fair features a fascinating educational program aimed at promoting dialogue around a number of design-related topics. By creating an environment that fosters discovery and education, Collective Design engages both established collectors and budding design enthusiasts, helping to build an audience for collectible design that will continue to grow.

This year’s Collective Design fair will take place at a new location, Skylight Clarkson Square, from May 13 through 17. Located in Manhattan’s design-forward SoHo neighborhood, Skylight boasts 60,000-square-feet of raw event space. Nearly thirty galleries will be exhibiting at Collective Design, including Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary (New York), a global exhibition-based program focusing on the work of contemporary studio artists, founded by Todd Merrill, a pioneering dealer of mid-to-late 20th century design and studio furniture; R & Company (New York), a gallery devoted to historic and contemporary design exhibition and education; Nicholas Kilner, specialists in 20th century American and Italian design with a focus on the work of celebrated mid century modern architects and designers; Maison Gerard (New York), specialists in fine French Art Deco furniture, lighting, and objets d’art; Friedman Benda (New York), a gallery dedicated to presenting established as well as emerging designers; and Donzella (New York), a forerunner in the 20th century design community that has maintained a reputation for presenting works by important yet lesser known designers, artists, and architects. A dynamic mix of works by established and new designers will be presented in installations that create an open dialogue between the viewer and the objects.

A project by interior designer Robert Couturier.

The fair's impressive program of special installations, curator-led tours, and panel discussions is highlighted by Collective Focus, a section of the fair dedicated to the lasting impact and significance of Italian design, which will feature objects from fair exhibitors Donzella, Memphis-Post Design Gallery (Milan), and Glass Past (New York); Decades of Design, a selling exhibition of 20th century furniture drawn from the legendary collection of Susan Weber, which includes a rosewood and parchment-wrapped dresser by Osvaldo Borsani, a glass chandelier by Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte, and iconic pieces by Andre Sornay, Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, and Carlo Bugatti; and an Isamu Noguchi installation that will explore the artist’s distinctive spatial concepts and signature sculptural forms. Not-to-be-missed Collective Conversations include The Italian Design Legacy (May 14, 3:30PM), a conversation with the architect Annabelle Selldorf and Stefano Tonchi, the editor of W magazine and curator of the Collective Focus section; Past Lives: The Nostalgia Narrative in Contemporary Jewelry Design (May 16, 11:30AM), which will look at contemporary studio jewelry and its relationship to both the history of jewelry and culture at large;  Witness to the Future (May 16, 2:30PM), a discussion between the legendary designer Vladimir Kagan and Elle Decor’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Boodro; and Living with Collectible Design (May 17, 2:30PM), which will include input from noted buyers, gallerists, and interior designers on building a collection. Guests can also take guided tours led by celebrated interior designers Robert Couturier (May 14, 11:30AM), Brad Ford (May 16, 11:30AM), Frank de Biasi (May 16, 3:00PM), Sandra Nunnerly (May 17, 11:30AM), and Amy Lau (May 17, 3:00PM).  

Collective Design is part of NYCxDESIGN, New York City’s official citywide celebration of all things design.