Meet “Object & Thing,” New York’s Rule-Breaking New Art and Design Fair

By William Hanley / Published by Dwell

Launched by a Frieze art fair veteran, the weekend-long event presents 200 works by both artists and designers in a Bushwick warehouse.

Abby Bangser knows her way around an art fair. As the former artistic director for the Americas and Asia at Frieze, she helped grow the lauded British fair’s global reach. Now, she’s launching her own event and writing a new set of rules in the process.

Object & Thing designer Rafael de Cardenas and founder Abby Bangser

Photography by Pernille Loof

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The show, titled Object & Thing, takes over 99 Scott, a former industrial space in Bushwick, Brooklyn—you’ll recognize it from many a fashion shoot—and runs from May 3-5, coinciding with the New York edition of Frieze.

Ceramics from Peter Shire's Boat series

Photography by Pernille Loof

Unlike fairs that specialize in art or design, Object & Thing combines both, with 31 galleries offering 200 contemporary works by artists and designers—from big names to emerging talent—all displayed alongside each other. The common denominator is that every "thing" in the show—whether it’s a chair or a sculpture—is a free-standing object. 

106181800 vase by Anton Alvarez

Object & Thing

Chain Chair Pair by Liz Collins and Harry Allen

Object & Thing

"We really came at it first conceptually. We wanted to show object-based work and to exhibit art and design equally together without hierarchy, without separation," says Bangser. "Everything is much more as perhaps someone might live with it in a home. In a domestic setting, there usually isn't a hierarchy between art and design."

Installation view of Object & Thing

Photography by Pernille Loof

While typical fairs charge dealers selling work set fees for booth space, Object & Thing only takes a commission on work sold, and prices range from $1,000 to $50,000. If that’s outside your budget, Object & Thing also includes a section called Shop, in which Bangser and her team have selected their favorite boutiques from around the world.

Installation view of Object & Thing

Photography by Pernille Loof

Boutiques participating include San Francisco’s Playmountain EAST and London’s Momosan Shop, to offer work for less than $100. (We’re calling dibs on one of the coffee mugs by Peter Shire with Echo Park Pottery.) There will also be snacks and a bar from Brooklyn mainstay Marlow & Daughters, and a series of talks throughout the weekend.

Vase #4 by Gaetano Pesce

Object & Thing

Architect Rafael de Cardenas and his firm Architecture at Large has created a set of display platforms. Bangser calls them "islands," designed specifically for the exhibition. "There are no booths; everything is installed in one central exhibition," says Bangser. "We took on the organization of the show, so dealers don't have to send their staff away from their home galleries or other fairs they are exhibiting at this week. And in doing so, they can be a little bit riskier with what they present." 

Installation view of Object & Thing

Photography by Pernille Loof

Bangser and de Cardenas prioritized getting sight lines among all of the work just right. You just might spot the perfect new addition to your home.

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