If you can't afford Sotheb's, where can you find good design?

James Zemaitis I think there’s several choices that you can make. On one hand, if you want to kind of acquire the classics of modernism; if you want to participate in the international style; if you want to embrace the …house; embrace great American organic design of the ‘50s, and you’re not interested in increasing the value of what you’re acquiring; if you just want to use these great pieces and create a simple modernist lifestyle, then really you can do no wrong with looking at a catalog, you know, from Design Within Reach because what they’re doing is licensing and re-issuing the classics. In some cases they’re selling works that have always been available. I mean the great Barcelona chair by…  has been in continuous production since the early 1950s. And so if you buy one from 1955 that the owner can prove was purchased from …in 1955, there’s no fundamental difference in value between that one from ’55 and the one you acquired in 2005. So you’re not purchasing for value. You’re purchasing for the iconography and for the very reason that these pieces have remained in production for so long – because they’re successful; because they’re comfortable; because they’re elegant; because they’re minimalist; because they fit your lifestyle. At the same time if you wanna be more adventuresome . . . I mean by all means I do feel that the way to go about collecting contemporary design is to first go to your local museum shop. I truly believe that . . . You know everyone has written about museum gift shops and how it’s such a valuable aspect of museums’, you know, cash flow. And I think some of the best design pieces can be found in museums that their own design collections aren’t even that prominently featured. I was just in Houston recently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. I’ve been in Milwaukee recently. And all of these little shops have some of the most exquisite pieces. Because frequently the curators of that museum . . . The curator of 20th-century-design is asked to help select the merchandise for the shop. It’s an old museum tradition that goes back to when, in the 1940s, works that were on view in the Organic Designs competition at MOMA, after the competition was over and Saarinen took first place, the pieces went over to Bloomingdale’s where they were placed in the window and sold right out of the window. So there always has been a link between museums and commerce; and between purchasing new design that have been exhibited in museums. So I recommend that. I really think that’s the way to go. Otherwise it’s you know . . . I think the best web site is probably DesignAddict.com in terms of a fundamental listing of the . . . of every designer that’s alive today. Here are their web sites. Here’s how you find out about them. Here are their capsule bios. You know it’s run by a couple in Brussels who have been doing this for 15 years with no profit motive in sight mind you. They’re just doing this for fun, and it’s a site that I go to again and again.

Recorded on: 1/30/08

 

 

 

Design Within Reach is a good start, Zemaitis says.

Related Articles

Why Japan's hikikomori isolate themselves from others for years

These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.

700,000 Japanese people are thought to be hikikomori, modern-day hermits who never leave their apartments (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images).
Mind & Brain
  • A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
  • This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
  • Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less