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A fair inside a fair? Calm that pounding heart. Independent is partnering with Object & Thing for a  design-driven section of their 2020 fair, which will marry objects of functional design with contemporary art. This may be somewhat familiar in a curatorial context, but is definitely unconventional inside the setting of an art fair. However when Abby Bangser, founder of the nascent platform that is Object & Thing, began chatting with Elizabeth Dee, Independent founder, they saw an opportunity to do something once again unprecedented: partner up. “I think the way Independent works—being a supportive platform for galleries—allowing for experimentation and the presentation of a wide range of artistic practices is very much aligned with Object & Thing,” explains Bangser. Meanwhile Object & Thing, as Bangser puts it: “We’re new, but we work with some of the most established galleries in the world in addition to emerging programs. In focusing on object-based works of both art and design displayed without hierarchy or separation between the disciplines, we allow for galleries to exhibit what is not often seen in more traditional fair contexts.”

Abby Bangser, Founder of OBJECT & THING; Photo: Genevieve Hanson

Abby Bangser, Founder of OBJECT & THING; Photo: Genevieve Hanson

OBJECT & THING was introduced last May, coinciding with the start of NYCxDesign, the month-long exploration of all things design. Still barely a year old, the object-based platform has proffered a new approach to a traditional design fair—working on commission with leading global art and design galleries, a robust digital sales tool, a section of of accessibly-priced objects presented by international galleries while consigning from top global design and art dealers to take part in this fair that eschews more traditional methods. 

Against most rules, these two fairs have teamed up to further push the look, feel and collecting opportunities that this new approach to fairs can provide. What does that really mean? Well, for Independent's fair in March 2020, Object & Thing will be taking over its own special section with a sharply curated presentation, featuring works consigned by top design galleries in addition to object-based works from Independent’s own exhibitors.

So far, Object & Thing has released few details on their takeover inside a section of Independent’s 2020 fair. Luckily, we got an exclusive scoop on the finer details before Object & Thing reveals the specifics early next year...Read all about what to expect from the partnership below. 


“I think the way Independent works—being a supportive platform for galleries—allowing for experimentation and the presentation of a wide range of artistic practices is very much aligned with Object & Thing”
— Abby Bangser


On The List
Those who have visited Spring Studios during Independent will recognize the space allocated to Object & Thing as the “skybox” upstairs on Floor 6.  Design galleries were invited by Object & Thing to contribute works to the presentation and Independent exhibitors were asked to submit proposals that were reviewed by the Object & Thing organizers.

The lucky ones chosen will be announced in January, but some confirmed participants from the design world include such prestigious names as: Friedman Benda, Functional Art Gallery, Green River Project LLC, Jason Jacques, Patrick Parrish Gallery, R & Company, Salon 94 Design, Toogood, and Volume Gallery. 

Select Design and Selected Art
“Each gallery is able to submit up to three works,” explains Bangser, and “we are looking to keep an equal balance between works from art and design galleries.” What is specifically on view remains under wraps until early 2020, but we’re told there have been plenty of newly created pieces, including seating, tabletop-scaled ceramics, and even a harp.

As for the art that will be paired with these new design pieces, that’s where Independent comes in. In a similar by-invitation-only process, the art is currently being selected from a shortlist of galleries to spark a curatorial dialogue. “We don’t want to crowd the galleries,” says Bangser, “so this will be tightly edited and curated.” 

All in the Neighborhood
Anyone who's been paying attention to the latest game of musical chairs in New York’s art world will know that Tribeca is where the relocating galleries have landed.  Thus, two of the first galleries confirmed for the presentation were in “response to Independent’s Tribeca location and allowed us to include two leaders in the design field, Patrick Parrish Gallery and R & Company,” explains Bangser. Grab a map for a few pointers.

Equal and Different
For Object & Thing’s section within the fair, “it was important to separate from the exhibiting galleries at Independent,” explains Bansger. Why? “We’re not a gallery. We want the presentation to look very different from the main fair because we’re our own thing built in collaboration with the galleries,” she explains, while noting that the partnership between Independent and Object & Thing makes sense from a brand perspective, as both continue to prioritize their commitment to quality and discovery. Inside the skybox, fair-goers will find different signage, and a separate look and feel to the main body of Independent’s exhibitors below. “You’re encountering  something different here that presents works of art and design in a very focused way and asks visitors to reconsider how they value or categorize the disciplines,” explains Bangser. And to those looking for more, Bangser adds, “We’ve kept the artist list separate from what’s happening in May,” so don’t expect to see repeats in Object & Thing’s standalone venture. 

This collaborative approach brings new opportunities for dealers and collectors to support artists and designers, in an environment where all sides benefit: new connections, eye-grabbing installations, and above all an enlivened sense of discovery. Staying true to the individual ethos of both platforms, this partnership looks to prioritize the quality and curation of the objects & things on display.