FIAC Brings Back Design

by Katrina Kufrer, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia

The French Modern and contemporary art fair put its design showcase on hold in 2009, but fair director Jennifer Flay tells us how the time has come to bring design back into the fold

The 44th edition of FIAC (19-22 October) is featuring a return to programming it initiated in 2004 and put on hold in 2009: design. While only halted due to spatial constraints of the historic Grand Palais building on the Champs Elysees – due to undergo renovations from 2020-24 to update the useable amount of space – Flay indicates that the public has long been ready to see design alongside contemporary art.

Five Paris-based design galleries – Jousse EntreprisekreoLaffanour Galerie Downtown ParisEric Philippe and Patrick Seguin – are set to rub shoulders with 192 art galleries. “There is a shared sense of looking for beauty, for new ideas, a new way to look at the world and live in it,” says Flay. “Eventually when looking at art, you will also think about the table you sit on, the lamp you light… there are many people who start with objects and move to art. It’s a very natural dialogue.”

Flay elaborates on the continuous discussions she has had with numerous design dealers since 2009, when pressures on both sides caused a temporary exhibition halt. “In 2004 design blossomed, from few events there were at least five a year that these dealers were participating in that put them under pressure to produce material for each,” she explains. For FIAC, “There was already a lot of pressure on the art galleries in terms of the limited space, and for design, you need space to properly show the forms.”

In an effort to continue collaborating with the field until another solution could be found, FIAC launched an architectural satellite project in 2010 in Esplanade de Feuillants at the Jardin des Tuileries where architectural design and innovation were showcased. While not a full fledged design programme, Flay does remark that this helped compensate for the lack of design booths at the main fair grounds and helped continue to nurture a non-art related line of programming. However, following the design scene’s evolution, “It became urgent to bring it back,” Flay asserts.

While initial ideas involved a separate, additional venue, many of the design dealers preferred to return to the original Grand Palais location. “I am very happy to be back at FIAC this year,” says François Laffanour. “Jennifer Flay was the first to gather design and contemporary art in an international fair a few years ago and we were part of the adventure.” Laffanour confirms that contemporary art and design are closely linked, and that the two fields share many collectors. The public will have to wait and see the face-lifted space in which the design dealers will exhibit, but Laffanour shares that they will be bringing pieces by the “Masters of Modernity: Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Pierre Jeanneret, and more recent works by Ron Arad, Vassilakis Takis and Ettore Sottsass.”

In the meanwhile, Flay says FIAC will continue its architectural project, highlighting that this year will see six special designs including an early Jean Prouvé pavilion from 1944, a mediation on dwelling by Hans-Walter Mueller, and a Jean Nouvel house. “I’m looking to the future,” Flay says. “It’s something very exciting that we can explore.”

FIAC will run 19-22 October at the Grand Palais, Paris. For more information visit





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