Auctioneer ditches "design art" 08.02.08

Alexander Payne, the auctioneer who coined the term “design art”, is sick of the name and has stopped using it, he revealed last night at a debate organised by the Rabih Hage Gallery. Payne, who is director of design for auction house Phillips de Pury, said: “We don’t call our auctions ‘design art’ any more… we were getting tired of [the term] being used incorrectly.”

Instead, items sold at auction by Phillips de Pury will be classified as either design or art. The hybrid term “design art” was created by Payne for an exhibition in 1999, and debate over its exact meaning has simmered ever since as one-offs and limited editions by designers including Zaha Hadid and Ron Arad have commanded unprecedented prices at auction. In 2006, a Marc Newson “Lockheed Lounge” fetched $968,000 at Sotheby’s.

Other participants in the debate were designer Jurgen Bey, artist Richard Woods, and writers David Carlson and Judd Tully. Journalist and author Max Fraser was chairman. The panel was divided about alternative names for the “design art” phenomenon, putting forward suggestions including “neo-baroque-ism”, “neo-expressionism”, “arts and crafts revivalism”, “vulgarism” and “Dubai chic”.

Above Ron Arad's Oh Void chair sold at auction for $190,000 in 2005


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