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Cristina Grajales Gallery presenting Sebastian Errazuriz, Lampara de Lagrimas, 2013, 60 x 50 x 50 inches, Crystal, metal,

Steven Learner on the Collective 2 Design Fair Opening Today

Last night saw the VIP opening preview of Collective 2, the second edition of the design fair founded by Steven Learner. The fair is different from its contemporaries, founded by a practicing designer and run by a collective (hence the name!) of New York-based designers, curators, collectors, and gallerists like Zesty Meyers, Kyle deWoody, Nessia Pope, and Evan Snyderman. This year boasts an increase in international exhibitors, a focus on Scandinavian design, and an exhibition of the 2013 graduating class from the Design Academy Eindhoven. Learner answered a few of our questions Collective 2, open today through May 11 at Skylight at Moynihan Station.

WHITEWALL: This is the second year of the Collective Design fair. What’s a major difference this year?

Cristina Grajales Gallery presenting Sebastian Errazuriz, Lampara de Lagrimas, 2013, 60 x 50 x 50 inches, Crystal, metal,

STEVEN LEARNER: We’re excited to be in a great new space this year: Skylight at Moynihan Station. With its Beaux-Arts exterior and industrial interior, it’s the perfect space to see great design. And we’ve grown from 23 to 36 galleries within a year and are adding some incredible design voices from around the world. Visitors to Collective 2 will discover Carwan Gallery from Beirut, Gallery SEOMI with locations in Los Angeles and Seoul, and ADN Galeria from Mexico City, among many others.

WW: How does The Collective behind the fair differ from a board or team behind other fairs?

and taxidermy birds

SL: The Collective started with a passionate group of designers, curators, collectors, and gallerists who all recognized the need for a new commercial and educational platform for design here in New York. As our plans have evolved, we’ve gotten great support from the creative community in the city—the art and design communities, especially.

WW: “Self Unself” from Design Academy Eindhoven will present work from the 2013 graduating class. Why did you want to show work from such young designers? 

SL: We are an inclusive fair, and we want to represent many points of view on design. The student perspective is always interesting because students typically bring fewer preconceptions to bear on their work. They are less experienced, yes—but they are also testing their design voices in imaginative ways, and that can be inspiring.

WW: Right, an important part of Collective for you has been making sure the fair is inclusive. This year the entryway installation is free. Why is that important for you? 

Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary presenting Joseph Walsh, The Enignum Canopy Bed (The Enignum Free Form by Walsh Studios).

SL: It’s part of our mission to bring design to a wider audience. We want everyone to be energized by the fair and be able to see amazing material, even before they pay an entry fee. This year we’re presenting a solo exhibition of the influential Dutch designer Hella Jongerius curated by Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell of MOSS BUREAU; work from the Design Academy Eindhoven; and a juxtaposition of cars by Cadillac. The public can also get some coffee at the espresso bar, lounge in the café outfitted with great vintage furniture from Maison Gerard, and visit two museum shops and a bookstore. All in the entry space.

WW: Why is design inclusive, do you think?

SL: Design is very much inclusive—everyone experiences design, everyday. It contributes to how we experience space—how we perceive and navigate through it, for example. Design is everywhere, from chairs to street signs to the technology we each carry around every day. We definitely want Collective to reflect that. We welcome everyone, from seasoned collectors to visitors new to design.

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