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The San Francisco–based interior designer Douglas Durkin has been on the steering committee of FOG Design + Art since its inception. Now in its fifth year, the fair brings together a unique mixture of furniture, objects, and art. Durkin and his fellow committee members—Stanlee Gatti, Roth Martin, Katie Paige, Allison Speer, and Susan Swig—have curated an intimate group of just 45 galleries this year, keeping FOG focused, manageable, and enjoyable.
Whitewaller spoke with Durkin, a leader in the San Francisco cultural community, about the city’s collector base and what separates FOG from other annual design events.
WHITEWALLER: You have been on the steering committee since FOG’s beginning. Going into its fifth edition, what has been one of the remarkable changes you’ve seen?
DOUGLAS DURKIN: The interest from the international art community with the fair. Our number of applications increased dramatically this last year, and so it has given us a very high quality of presentation from invited dealers.
WW: As someone who works in the design field yourself, what do you think sets FOG apart from other design events in the yearly calendar?
DD: As we are small, this very natural dialogue between art and design, with only 45 dealers, makes for a very enjoyable and congenial experience at FOG. The scale is manageable, and this has created a much more relaxed atmosphere for people attending the fair. The dealers are really showcased and the space has been created for discussion and interaction, and attendees are not lost in a sea of choices and, for that matter, competition. And the quality level of what dealers are presenting continues to develop and strengthen.
WW: How would you describe the design community in San Francisco?
DD: Vibrant, innovative, fast moving. And broad: from architecture to interiors, to product, to graphic design, to design innovation companies, the Bay Area is a hotbed of innovation throughout many disciplines.
WW: How would you describe the collector community in San Francisco?
DD: There is a great history of arts patronage in the Bay Area, and a solid base of established and seasoned collectors. With that said, we are seeing a gradual increase in a younger demographic interested in art and design. The tech community is young, and as these younger people are growing into their lifestyles, art and design of quality, ingenuity, and uniqueness is becoming more important to them. We view FOG Design+Art as being a critical part of that exposure and education.
WW: How do you think the intersection of art and design at FOG is representative of collecting habits?
DD: As my practice is geared toward collectors, some established and seasoned, and some just getting their feet wet, the intersection of art and design at FOG has been a very appealing presentation for them. It’s a completely natural fit, and every one of my clients who collect contemporary art is also interested in design. And their interests in design have expanded over the past few years. I believe fairs have a done a great job of bringing forward design as a compelling world for them to explore. Design that is considered, unique, beautifully produced, and timeless is an antidote to a world bent on the mass production of goods that are continually self-referencing and therefore in a race toward homogeneity and, unfortunately, mediocrity.
WW: Outside of the fair in January, what should visitors make sure to do, see, or visit in San Francisco?
DD: SFMOMA should not missed. Other highlights include the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Untitled Art Fair, the David Ireland House on Capp Street, and the Minnesota Street Project art district in Dogpatch.