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In 2015, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, a leading design gallery founded in 2006 by Julien Lombrail and Loic Le Gaillard, expanded into a Midtown Manhattan penthouse and appointed Cédric Morisset as Global Director.
Previously head of the Design Department at PIASA Auction House in Paris, Morisset is also well known as a design editor, critic and curator for galleries and public spaces around the world.
WHITEWALL: What brought you into the art world, specifically, the world of contemporary design?
CÉDRIC MORISSET: Design has always been a passion since my younger years. After graduating, I immediately combined three jobs at once: design consulting for luxury companies (mostly for perfume and alcohol brands), design writing for a multitude of French and international publications (Le Figaro, Architecture Design, Casa Vogue, Wallpaper, and The Like), and design curator.
Since then, this passion has yet to leave me. I spent three years at the head of the design department of the French auction house PIASA, then joined Carpenters Workshop Gallery in 2015 as global director.
WW: Could you describe Carpenter’s program in a few words?
CM: Carpenters Workshop Gallery was founded by Julien Lombrail and Loic Le Gaillard with one clear idea: blurring the boundaries between art and furniture, between sculpture and function.
Twelve years ago, our program was mostly focusing on a group of incredibly talented Dutch designers, all graduates of the notable Design Academy Eindhoven.
Today, our program has expanded in many different directions. We represent 30 artists from every corner of the world, from young emerging talents from Middle East, notably David & Nicolas, to design giants like Andrea Branzi. What have they in common? The will to push the boundaries of furniture either in terms of concept, function, craftsmanship, or all of those things.
Our aim is to create today’s and tomorrow’s icons of collectible design. We want to leave our mark, very clearly, in the history of art and design.
WW: What do you think of design-driven art fairs across the world?
CM: They are all pretty new, and most of them didn’t exist 15 years ago. Their success reveals the rising taste of collectors for high-end furniture (whether it is vintage or contemporary) looking to match the caliber of their amazing art collections. It is still quite usual to see a disconnect in many interiors, which show the best art on the walls, and very often the worst furniture in the space.
That said, this is changing quickly, from Europe to the United States to Asia. The rise of new generations, the rarefication of vintage furniture, and the extraordinary development of collectible contemporary furniture everywhere in the world will only help the existing design fairs to expand (Design Miami will soon debut in Hong Kong) and new fairs will undoubtedly soon appear.
Many art fairs are also inviting collectible design galleries to apply, among them FIAC in Paris, the Armory Show in New York, Expo Chicago, and FOG in San Francisco.
WW: Who is your favorite designer?
CM: Why only one? Nacho Carbonell, Vincenzo de Cotiis, and Andrea Branzi are certainly my Holy Trinity, but my pantheon has many other gods!
WW: Who are the designers you admire but don’t represent?
CM: In the world of collectible design, i have always considered the Bouroullec brothers and Jasper Morrison as geniuses of our time. But design is also a matter of industrial and democratic design. In that field, Patricia Urquiola and Naoto Fukasawa are probably among the designers of the century. Not to mention the many Italian designers that I admire, from Enzo Mari to Alessandro Mendini.
WW: What is the most notable sale you’ve ever made?
CM: Difficult to say. A few years ago, people were buying one piece at the time, here and there. Today we are lucky enough to have fantastic followers fascinated by our programming who want more and more!
WW: What advice would share with new or young collectors?
CM: Compared to art, collectible furniture design is still extraordinary cheap. I usually say that the price of the most expensive painting in the world could build you the best design collection of all time. It is also clearly less speculative, and therefore the market is more stable. So I would recommend that new collectors not to be afraid, as this market is only in its fledgling stages. Buy simultaneously the young emerging designers you love, and the cherished pieces of the design masters which are celebrated by books and museums. You can’t go wrong.