Water taxi rides, bellinis and palazzo soirées were the ingredients for collectible design fair Nomad’s first ever Venice edition. And it was a delicious mix. The travelling design showcase definitely capitalised on the moment – Venice Film Festival had the city buzzing, and with the Biennale’s art offering still soaring, Nomad Venice was undoubtedly going to thrive.
But how do you make a showcase unique in this lagoon-wide offering of exhibitions? Hold it in a palazzo that has never before hosted an exhibition, was co-founders Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte and Giorgio Pace’s answer. ‘There is a special magic here,’ Pace muses while touring press at Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel, a gothic palace from 1473. He shared remarkable stories of the historic location that was closed to the public until 2017, and restored as a romantically weathered spot in the Cannaregio quarter.
Twenty-five exhibitors were given pride of place in different rooms at the location – each somehow responding to the magic of renaissance buildings, bridges and waterways in Venice. Upon entering, resin works by Draga and Aurel were plotted where the canal reaches the stone entrance, and the murky waters reflected pastel tones in the Como-based duo’s works. In particular, a transparent screen was referencing the wooden tool Briccola, which is used to help sailors navigate the lagoon network.
Naturally, with the island of Murano nearby, and Venice Glass Week opening hot off the heels of Nomad, the material was a recurring emblem for galleries. A limited edition pair of chandelier and table by India Mahdavi were presented by WonderGlass, while David Gill Gallery capitalised on the local glassmakers too with a whimsical collection by Paris-based artist and designer Mattia Bonetti. In a corridor of the palace, the London-based gallery showcased classical techniques in a contemporary light with magnetic hues of green and yellow, bold Venetian architecture and interiors.
Glass history from South America was also given a shout out via Chamber NYC, a platform founded by Juan Garcia Mosqueda. A display of newly commissioned experimental works by the likes of Jumbo, Objects of Common Interest and Ries were crafted by the last remaining glass maker in Argentina.
With collectors, journalists, makers, and gallerists joining together, Nomad was a project of merging industries and discovery – ‘we look for a mix between the well known and the unexpected, for allure and culture, for the possibility of creating bonds between the local and the new as well as pairing professionals with enthusiasts,’ says Pace and Bellavance-Lecompte. ‘We welcome you to La Serenissima.’
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