Published: July 30, 2019
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. – The glory days of summer are found on the grounds of the East Hampton Antiques & Design Show, held this year July 19-21 at the historic Seventeenth Century Mulford Farm, one of the oldest properties on the island and located in the heart of the town village. About 50 dealers held down the field, split between five tents on the property and ranging in offerings from garden elements; antique and country furniture; modern design furniture, lighting and decorative arts; fine art in paintings, sculpture and prints; jewelry; silver; textiles; and more. The show serves as one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the East Hampton Historical Society, which operates five historic properties in the area.
Maria Vann, the historical society’s director, welcomed visitors at the gate of the show. “In our 13th year, we have a sort of rebrand,” she said, referencing the addition of the word “Design” to the show’s title. “Because clearly there is a design element, it opens the show up to include more things.” Indeed that addition was in keeping with the inventory that has always been found on the show floor: things that folks can find to fill their lives with beauty, whether that is signed jewelry, a chic set of organic modern furniture, an expressive work of art or garden design elements that enliven a property.
As it was an outdoor show, weather was a principal concern over the weekend with heat indexes rising above 100 degrees. While that may have deterred some from leaving their homes, many dealers still reported solid sales, and show manager Brian Ferguson relayed that the gate was minimally affected.
“Our attendance was down only very slightly,” Ferguson said, noting only a 40-person deficit from last year’s numbers on Saturday. “It didn’t seem to really affect people.”
The show attracts visitors who have homes in the direct area, with many of the dealers reporting deliveries largely confined within the town. As much as the Hamptons traffic might prevent those from further distances from getting to the show, or at least the opening preview party on Thursday evening, many dealers still reported solid sales due to the artful sensibility that many of the attendees have.
“The Hamptons is like no place I’ve ever been, there’s so much taste,” said Bruce Emond of The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass. “These people have a New York sensibility, so they get what I do.”
Taste, as it were, was everywhere. Honorary co-chairpersons Jonathan Adler, potter and modern American designer, and partner Simon Doonan, TV personality, author and window dresser, were on hand to meet attendees at the preview party, with average attendance in the 400-500 range. As was Martha Stewart, who remains a great supporter of the business.
“It’s an extremely visual show,” Ferguson said. “If you can set up a booth with merchandise that has a visual punch, chances are you will do well. It seems that the customers know what they’re looking at, they’re able to pull the trigger, and if it’s something that has an immediate visual impact, it’s something that will sell well.”
And many did.
Emond said the show was one of the best he’s ever had as an exhibitor there, recounting that he sold every single thing that was set up outside his booth – a mix of large outdoor Twentieth Century sculptures, furniture and classical garden sculpture, like a large metal painted pig on a raised platform. Inside the booth was bright and airy as Emond featured sculptural works by Marie Zoe Greene-Mercier, a sculptor who studied under Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The dealer also sold modern ceramics and a signed 6-foot-tall bronze sculpture similar in style to works by Lynn Chadwick. Of his outdoor pieces, Emond delivered a large, colorful Twentieth Century mobile to a nearby modernist property that he said “looked like a Hockney painting.”
“Whenever sales happen like that, it puts some energy and enthusiasm back in the business,” Emond said.
Portsmouth N.H., dealer Withington & Company, headed by Bob Withington, said “It was a very good show, considering how hot it was. The heat was pretty crushing, but I was amazed that the people did come and they basically ignored it. People were enthusiastic and we sold a lot of the better things we had.” Those included an assembled garden room made with windows from a historic schoolhouse in New Bedford, Mass., which was bought by Martha Stewart. “It’s just one of those things that you buy when you see it and then you come up with a plan afterwards,” Withington said about it, noting the options with the windowpanes were endless. Other sales included a set of four 7-foot limestone obelisks and a large Turkish terracotta wine vessel, which now adorns the end of the buyer’s pool. The dealer also featured a pair of cast sphinxes which came from the summer White House of President William Taft in Beverley, Mass.
Manhattan gallery Mantiques Modern was on hand with high-quality vintage luxury goods and a terrific display of unusual objects. The dealers featured prints by Roy Lichtenstein, a massive 20-inch-high sterling shell, a unique checker gameboard in brass- and chrome-plated metal by French artist Francois Collette and a painted mannequin pelvis by Robert Loughlin featuring the artist’s signature brut image. Cole Ramstad, gallery director, has been doing the show for more than six years now and reliably sees a number of familiar faces at the event. “We see a lot of interior designers and interesting personalities, as well as some of our favorite clients,” he said.
Andrew Spindler Antiques, Essex, Mass., found plenty of interest in Midcentury Modern material with an alluring display inside one of the property’s outbuildings. “Good people came, we sold all kinds of things,” the dealer said, including a Florence Knoll dining table, a set of six tripod chairs by William Katavolos, an Art Deco brass and glass display case, fine art, flatware, ceramics, a pair of Swedish bentwood pendant lights designed by Hans-Agne Jakobsson and a 1930s Swiss rowing competition poster.
In the same vein, Washington DC dealership David Bell Antiques had a productive show. “We always do fantastic, the show has a great following,” Bell said before the preview party got underway. “This show is the star in the crown of our summer,” he said, adding that people in the area do a lot of their “antiquing” for the year at this show. “It really is one of those shows, you never know who is going to walk on the field: artists, celebrities, fashion designers.”
Bell featured an assortment of fine art, furniture and lighting that spanned the Twentieth Century. Front and center in his booth was a Memphis-style console in black, white, orange and aluminum, topped by a large and striking lab glass lamp. On Bell’s back wall was a Japanese screen from the 1920s in Yves Klein blue that exuded a nautical sense to it, striking a good fit with the surroundings.
East Hampton Historical Society chief curator Richard Barons sees the show as an opportunity to add life to a home. “Spice it up, play with different periods. If, as Edgar Allan Poe said, ‘The carpet is the soul of the apartment,’ furniture and art are the exclamation points,” he said. “Look around at the shelter magazines and there are collections of ironstone pitchers, groupings of Victorian shop signs and weathervanes gracing shelves and walls. It is all about personality. An Eighteenth Century chest that you found at a Connecticut antiques show tells your guests that you are a hunter/gatherer, not a couch-shopper. You likely don’t live in a museum, but you enjoy owning a few museum pieces.”
The East Hampton Antiques and Design Show plans to be back at the same place next year. For information, 631-324-6850 or www.easthamptonhistory.org.
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