London’s Gallery Fumi celebrates ten years of championing young designers with anniversary exhibition
Opening a gallery in 2008 was a challenge. Opening a gallery specialising in limited edition furniture by unknown makers was sheer madness. But Valerio Capo and Sam Pratt, co-founders of London’s Gallery Fumi knew they were on the money, (not least because Pratt was a former city trader), but also because, in the wake of the economic crash, design art as a market was taking shape. They dived right in, taking young designers and new ideas with them, and now, a decade on, they have emerged as one of the leading galleries in the field.
To celebrate their tenth anniversary, ‘Now and Then’, a show celebrating key works and seminal moments opens in the gallery, coinciding with London Design Festival. It has been conceived by curator and design historian Libby Sellers, who was given carte blanche to sift through the Fumi archive. She selected 37 pieces by 20 designers, all of who embrace materiality as primary medium of creativity. ‘Sam and Valerio have always been interested in exploring materials,’ says Sellers, ‘so this presented itself as an overriding theme.’
Pieces from Max Lamb’s Poly series sit alongside new works by the designer, who was still a student when he exhibited with Fumi in 2008. At that time, his nanocrystalline Copper Chair sold at Phillips auction house for £15,000, and he, followed by Studio Glithero, was Fumi’s first designer. New York/Athens duo Voukenas Petrides are its latest newcomers; their Convex Concave Bent Tube also form part of the show.
Gold Cleft Chair by Max Lamb, 2018, Courtesy Gallery Fumi
‘Each of the works shows designers not as passive observers, but as active explorers,’ adds Sellers, who also selected Berlin-based Lukas Wegwerth’s crystal growth studies, Study O’Portable’s excavations in jesmonite and Tuomas Markunpoika’s tables in tadelakt, a Moroccan plaster.
‘Our biggest challenge has been to introduce the “new” – limited edition contemporary furniture. Over time, more people have come to appreciate the quality of the work we carry, the idea behind it, the execution, and most importantly the value of craftsmanship,’ says Capo. Brand new works, among them a new chandelier by Bob Lorimer and brass pieces by Rowan Mersh, will also be unveiled in their Mayfair gallery. They moved into the two-floor space last year, itself a far cry from their humble beginnings in a small outpost in Shoreditch. §