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'The rise of Design and its importance in our digital world'

What was meant to be a thought-provoking discussion about ‘The Rise of Design and its Importance in our Digital World’ at Sotheby’s galleries last Saturday ended up being a stimulating conversation on the semantics of design, art, artists and design fairs! Coinciding with the exhibition and auction ‘Design: Living in a Material World’, curated by Tony Chambers of Wallpaper* magazine, ground-breaking works that inform and shape the world of Design will be auctioned on Tuesday 17th October.

Design is indeed fascinating and is now getting the interest of heterogeneous audiences. How does Design in the physical world plays an important role in our lives today, in an increasingly digital global environment? With an equally balanced panel at the conference - two artists, Job Smeets, co-founder of Studio Job and Joseph Walsh, a self-taught artist and designer Maker; and two design specialists: Liv Vaisberg, Co-founder and Owner of the Collectible Design Fair, a contemporary Design fair to be launched in Brussels in Belgium next March ; and Adam Trunoske, Junior Specialist of Design at Sotheby’s - every word had its importance!

What is the difference between art and design? Is Design functional when art is emotional? One can be moved by something which could be functional. What used to be called ‘Decorative Arts or Decorative and Applied Arts‘- Design- could also be dissected with the world designate, as suggested a woman in the audience! ‘We are living in a material world’ And it does imply an intricate relationship between designers and material. ‘Materiality dresses us as humans’ commented Tony Chambers who was moderating the debate. ‘Material is not important but concept is! Said Job Smeets. Whereas for Adam, dialogues between past and present are crucial because they are raising different ideas and concepts.

According to Joseph Walsh, ‘function brings a valuable engagement: With Design, artists create a reality for 15 people instead of a mass production’, Joseph added. Tony Chambers remembers the post-economic crisis of 2008: At Wallpaper*, in terms of Design and manufacture, we got more interested in how things were made. People went deeper into what they were buying, they needed to know how everything was made. ‘Art is not about how it is made but why it is made, Design will be more serious if you focus on why it is made and not how it is made’ concluded Job Smeets.

Design has definitely become more valuable. What did change in the perception of Design?

Is it because we are seeking for exclusive pieces? ‘Design is relatively new to everybody, which makes it even more interesting’, commented Liv. She is starting a new design fair in Belgium next March focusing on contemporary design, because Belgium is ‘known for collectors taking risks’! The Fair will be there to showcase artists and display collectibles: unique pieces and limited edition. A majority of design pieces are having a function. ‘We are living in a material world’ is the third Design sale organised by Sotheby’s! This one is focusing on the period post World War II to contemporary Design.

As our lives become increasingly governed by the digital world, we have subsequently become more appreciative and sensitive to the analogue. We now crave to touch, the feel, even the smell of the material world. This is the perfect time to explore how post-war and contemporary designers have employed and manipulated all manners of materials in elegant

and innovative ways’. Tony Chambers.

Photos credit: Courtesy Sotheby's

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