Design collectors across London must be rubbing their hands in glee. Not only is the second, bigger, better Design Art London taking place next week but Sebastian + Barquet, New York’s celebrated design gallery, has opened a London outpost. It’s hard to believe given Britain’s design heritage but Sebastian + Barquet is actually London’s first gallery devoted to modernist design.

Sebastian + Barquet

Click here to see more of the gallery.
Scheduled to host five curated exhibitions a year, the gallery prides itself on sourcing only the finest ‘museum-quality’ design pieces from 1940s through to 1960s. The inaugural exhibition, ‘New Hope’, brings together the work of several mid-century American Modernists many of whom lived and worked in an area of Pennsylvania of the same name.
Amongst others, the work of George Nakashima, Philip Lloyd Powell and Wendell Castle features highly, but it’s a sculpted sideboard in gilt steel, wood and slate by Paul Evans that’s the star of the show. We took the opportunity of the opening to catch-up with the Mexican maverick behind the gallery, Ramis Barquet.
When and why did you start collecting Modernist design?
About 25 years ago. I bought a fantastic piece of Sottsass and I’ve been collecting ever since.
Do you also collect the work of any contemporary designers?
I do, though less so now. The focus of our business is important design from the 1940s to 1960s. Though there's obviously a bit of crossover.
Do you feel the designs you collect are too valuable to be used?
Absolutely not. The wonderful thing about all these pieces is that they can be used. Nakashima is quoted as saying that you should allow for your furniture to undergo a certain degree of 'Kevinizing' in reference to the damage inflicted by his young son.
Do you think more people collect design today than a decade ago?
It is a question of taste. People don’t collect the way their parents did any more. As more and more 20th century design comes to the market, collectors are becoming better educated about what is out there and as a result more discerning.
Why have you decided to open a London gallery?
So that we could be closer to our European clients. And to showcase important American designers here on British shores.
What do you make of the new generation of design artists who bypass manufacturers to sell their products in galleries?
Next question
How do you think the current economic situation will affect the design art trend?
Our plans are long term and we hope that consistently acquiring the very best pieces by the very best designers, in any market, will allow us to weather the storm.
Do you have a single favourite item of design?
Yes, the Paul Evans vertical sculpted front cabinet of 1972. He only made as many as 10 of these and this is without question the best example I’ve seen. It is a monumentally beautiful thing.