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May 13, 2008 

With the record auction prices for design objects by Zaha Hadid, Marc Newson and other contemporary designers, itís clear that interest in all things design has come to the fore. Now, Artnet has launched its own specialized web portal devoted to exactly this collecting field -- modern and contemporary design.

The Artnet Design Marketplace presents some 3,000 objects from over 150 galleries in 75 countries, ranging from a pair of Tiffany Studios Bamboo Windows ($335,000 from M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans) to a Norman Bel Geddes Cobra Table Light ($1,800 from

Since the trove of material is stored in a database, it can be searched by designer, period, location and type of auction. If you happen to have a house done in Minimalist design with a collection of Minimalist art, for instance, you can search for furniture by Donald Judd (and find, as it happens, a rather astonishing range of objects from Artware Editions, Sebastian + Barquet and inde/jacobs in Marfa, Tex.).† †

If youíre based in Europe and want to take advantage of the weak dollar, you can use the "geo function" and search U.S. vendors and benefit from the good currency exchange rates. Similarly, if youíre the kind of consumer who likes to see your purchases in person, you can tailor your search to dealers in your area.

But what if you donít know exactly what youíre looking for? Then you can browse by designer, period, style or type of object. Searching for the contemporary painter Lisa Yuskavage turns up a very alluring shower curtain -- printed with an image of one of the artistís nude maidens -- available from Artware Editions in New York for $1,500 (in an edition of 300). Searching by Chapel Hill, N.C., turns up a Raku Covered Jar by Conrad Weiser at Tyndall Galleries. And searching under "mirrors" calls up three pages of material, from Dagobert Peche and Kolomon Moser to Pierre Charpin.

All sellers are members of Artnetís gallery network, and new items are added daily.

Are you ready for art-world "up-cycling?" Phillips, de Pury & Co. London has partnered with ecotourism and eco-education nonprofit Adventure Ecology for an idiosyncratic initiative that merges the "green design" trend and the contemporary art boom. To wit, Phillips is taking its waste -- things like packing crates, old catalogues and invitations -- and offering it to artists as the raw material for serviceable, presumably chic habitats for the UKís endangered bird, bat and bee populations.

Some 20 artists and designers have signed up to assemble prototypes from the trash, using specifications tailored to the animalsí needs. The resulting designs are being sold at auction in June, with proceeds benefitting the Sculpt the Future Foundation, a UK nonprofit that seeks to harness culture to educate people about conservation and other environmental issues. Of the designs, the three most successful bee-, bird- and bat-houses are to be mass-produced and sold through "high-end premium retailers and museums," with profits going to conservation.

Participants are Tomoko Azumi, Martino Gamper, Stuart Haygarth, Henry Krokatsis, Max Lamb, Peter Marigold, Charles Mason, Mark McGowan, Alex Metcalf, Heather and Ivan Morison, Luis Berrios Negron, Michael Pawlyn, Tom Price, Raw Edges (Yael Mer & Shay Alkalay), Rolf Sachs, Paul Smith, Michael Sodeau, Marcus Tremonto, Gavin Turk and Michael Young. More on Adventure Ecology at

On the horizon in New York is the 11th annual Sculpture Objects & Functional Art fair, also known as SOFA, May 29-June 1, 2008, bringing 67 dealers in high-end contemporary design to the Park Avenue Armory. With the surge in interest in design, SOFA has become a must-see. Highlights include works by the hot glass artist (in more ways than one!) Dale Chihuly at Donna Schneier Fine Arts from New York; sleek gold and silver vessels by Japanese metalsmith Hiroshi Suzuki at Londonís Clare Beck at Adrian Sassoon; and hand-hammered sculptures and boxes with secret compartments by Hervé Wahlen at Barry Friedman, Ltd., also from New York.

The opening night gala on May 28 is open to all -- all who buy at $100 ticket, that is -- while a private fund-raising dinner benefits the Museum of Arts and Design. For more info, see

The forthcoming Art 39 Basel once again has a design component, known as Design Miami/Basel 2008, June 2-5, 2008, in the Markthalle, not far from the main fair in the Messeplatz. In all, 28 dealers are participating, including seven new exhibitors: Carpenters Workshop Gallery (London), Galerie Eric Philippe (Paris), Galerie Dewindt (Brussels), Perimeter Editions (Paris), Galerie Pierre Marie Giraud (Brussels), VIVID Gallery (Rotterdam) and Yoshii Gallery (New York).

Further fair highlights include heroically sized domestic items rendered in polished bronze by Studio Job at Moss Gallery from New York; works by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Jean RoyŤre at Galerie Patrick Seguin from Paris; handcrafted California Modern design by J.B. Blunk, Sam Maloof and Federico Armijo from Los Angelesí Reform Gallery (the first California-based gallery to participate in Design Miami/Basel); and conceptual pieces by Studio Makkin & Bey, Maarten Baas and Shao Fan from Pearl Lamís Shanghai-based Contrasts Gallery.

The show is sponsored by HSBC Private Bank and Audi AG. For more info, see

This fall, the Cleveland Museum of Art is offering up a mega-sized serving of Gilded Age luxury goods with the show "Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique," Oct. 19, 2008-Jan. 19, 2009. Organized by CMA decorative arts and design curator Stephen Harrison, the exhibition features over 300 objects. Among the highlights: five imperial Easter eggs by Fabergé; Louis Comfort Tiffanyís Magnolia Window; Edward VIIís cigarette case (from the collection of Queen Elizabeth II); glass including the new CMA acquisition, the Frogs and Lily Pads Vase, by René Jules Lalique; and many other aristocratic bibelots.

Tina Kim Gallery in Chelsea has organized an exhibition that pairs works by 20th-century masters Alexander Calder (1898-1976) and George Nakashima (1905-1990). "Calder / Nakashima," May 22-June 28, 2008, showcases early sculptures by Calder with rough-hewn natural furniture pieces by Nakashima. The show is organized in conjunction with Vintage20, the Manhattan firm specializing in mid-century furniture and design.

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