Is the Future of Art Fairs… the Mail-Order Catalogue? This Design Fair Is Launching a Glossy Magazine in Lieu of Its In-Person Event

At least 35 of the 50 planned exhibitors for the scuttled in-person November edition will participate.

Installation view of Peter Blake at Salon Art + Design. Image courtesy Salon Art + Design.

Like many other art events, the Salon Art + Design fair has had to pivot in recent months.

The show, scheduled for November, has been cancelled this year, after fair organizers decided that “conditions are not appropriate for an event of this scale to take place in New York this year,” according to a statement on the fair’s website.

And in a move that suggests everything old is indeed new again, organizers are instead turning their focus to creating a luxury-style print magazine that will be sent to over 30,000 VIPS and collectors from the fair’s subscriber list. Compare that to the 13,500 people that attended the fair in its best year, and the reasoning is clear.

“This isn’t a quick fix,” executive director Jill Bokor, a print magazine veteran, said in a phone interview with Artnet News. “Obviously it took a lot of thinking to make the decision and to resolve that that is how we will put the Salon platform out this year. It’s sort of a deeper dive, in a way.”

Installation view of Adrian Sasson at 2019 Salon Art + Design. Image courtesy Salon Art +Design.

Installation view of Adrian Sasson at 2019 Salon Art + Design. Image courtesy Salon Art + Design.

There will also be a digital component to the fair but The Intersection of Art & Design, as the magazine is called, will be a major focus. Salon has enlisted the production services of the UK-based Cultureshock Media, known for putting together publications for Sotheby’s, the Tate, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Early exhibitor response has been enthusiastic, Bokor says, noting that the first design exhibitor she approached told her that even if readers didn’t buy works directly from the publication immediately, but instead waited a few months, that alone would be a benefit,

“The sensibility of the fair will run very strongly through the magazine,” Bokor says. “We’re encouraging our exhibitors to show a piece or two that they would have brought to the fair. As usual, a few people tell me they have been saving objects for the fair. They can show readers things that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see this year.”

Installation view of Maison Gerard at Salon Art + Design. Image courtesy of Salon Art + Design.

Installation view of Maison Gerard at Salon Art + Design. Image courtesy of Salon Art + Design.

As far as cost, Bokor says “the math was really pretty simple.” Thus far, 35 of the 50 planned exhibitors have opted to buy spreads in the publication, and Salon will seek additional advertising from exhibitors as well as sponsors.

First priority goes to exhibitors and past partners, and the remaining pages will be sold to appropriate art and design-related advertisers. Single issues of the magazine will be on sale for $25, although the aforementioned 30,000 VIPS will receive complimentary copies.

“This is not a money-making endeavor,” Bokor says. “Our clients have had such a rough time these past few months, like many other industries. If we basically break even and it’s successful and well-received, we can consider doing another version in the spring. We won’t have another fair until November 2021. This is not going to add to our bottom line this year, but we think it’s really important to do it.”

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