Decorative Art and Design

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We're extremely excited to welcome our newest partner, Art Advisor Carolyn Pastel and her firm Pastel Advisory, to the Keenlee network.  Carolyn is a leading expert in 20th and 21st Century Decorative Art and Design and expands Keenlee's capabilities to include these categories.  Contact us if you have an advisory, appraisal or collection management need related to Decorative Art and Design!

Given that many people are unfamiliar with the Decorative Art and Design categories, we interviewed Carolyn to provide some background:

What is 20th and 21st Century Decorative Art & Design?


Pretty much everything that is not on the wall.  Art is not only paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs but the objects, lighting and furniture we live with. The historical distinction between fine and decorative art is whether or not it is functional. However over the past 20 years those lines have become blurred but that's a discussion for another time.  The category includes everything from the modernist pre-war period from the Second World War to contemporary creations. The furniture and objects reflect the culture, history and aesthetic of that time period.  Currently 1950s European and American design is the most sought-after period and the most expensive as well. The 1950s aesthetic matches our actual environment and way of living, showing purity and simplicity of lines, which makes it easy to live with and to mix with art. The 20th and 21st Century offers a wide variety of styles at various price points. What I find particularly exciting is the development of contemporary design and the applications of cutting-edge techniques, such as 3-D printing.

Why buy something old vs. new?

Both are great. There are no definitive rules but rather guidelines. I prefer to own a vintage original when I can but if that's not possible a licensed version is ok. There are interesting designers in various categories and value levels. If you are interested in earlier works look for recognized and established designers with a solid market and exhibition history. If buying contemporary design I recommend getting information about the fundamentals of their work, buying from a reputable gallery/shop and finding out the production run. 

Are Decorative Arts and Design pieces affordable?

Absolutely. You can buy works from under $1K to over $1M. If you are looking to spend $1k go to local charity auctions and online ones such as Paddle 8 and Artsy. For $5K and above go to a dealer you trust and look at regional and international auction houses. Something nice always slips through the cracks at auction so keep looking and you'll find a good deal.

For those of us in the Bay Area, what galleries can I visit in San Francisco to see Decorative Arts and Design pieces?


As you may expect NY and LA have the most galleries offering 20th and 21st Century furniture and objects so if traveling there I am happy to send you a list. However, once a year you can see many of them in San Francisco at the Fog Art + Design Fair. 

In the Bay Area two of my favorites are:

Future Perfect offers fantastic contemporary objects and furniture ranging from a few hundred dollars to $50,000+. The owner David, has a fantastic eye. He is constantly on the hunt to find new designers to represent. The Future Perfect emails an informative quarterly newsletter called The Present Tense.

Lebreton - offers all vintage objects and furniture primarily from France in the 1940s-1970s. Their other gallery is located in the south of France. They receive massive container shipments from Europe a few times a years so plenty of treasures to find. 


What are your favorite Decorative Art and Design resources?


Architectural Digest is an excellent source for what's new and trending. I highly recommend subscribing to ADPro, a weekly newsletter that gives the latest design news, analysis of trends etc. 

Introspective Magazine by 1stdibs is another one on my weekly reading list. I learn about top Interior Designers, furniture makers and all things Design related. 

Modern Magazine is for true design nerds. You'll read in-depth articles from curators, tastemakers and auction house experts. This magazine produces 4 issues a year so an easy one to add to your reading list.

Christie's, Sotheby's, Phillips, Bonhams and Wright are the best auction houses to follow. There are a bunch of European auction houses that have stellar Design auctions as well. I subscribe to email updates based on my preferences and receive all their 20th Century Decorative Art & Design auction catalogues. 

Ready to explore the world of Decorative Arts and Design to add that perfect piece to diversify your art collection?  Looking for a high quality vintage piece to add something special to your design project for your clients?  Contact Keenlee or Launch a Project to get started!