Dezeen interviewed Rodman Primack, former head of Phillips design department and now the director of Design Miami, the leading design fair, on the differences between the art and design markets. Primack says the credit crisis was a healthy transformation for the design market. Here’s why:
There was this moment when the prices at auction were crazy. I think we’ve moved away from that moment of speculative craziness and now the market has become much more real and much more solid.
It was a very healthy correction because there was a point where people were thinking it was like the contemporary art market and they should go out and buy all these things and put them into storage and be very speculative about it.
Some people lost some money and that’s very unfortunate, but I think the market returned to this place where it’s much more real, where people are looking at objects for their value and their usability. This market is not like the contemporary art market. These objects are different [to art]. We use them in different ways. […]
Problem solving and making objects for people to interact with is inherent in design. It’s a different conversation. It’s not about creating something that people can’t touch; it’s about creating things that people can touch and that gives it a whole different feeling. […] In using them, they lose something and deteriorate; they patina. There’s a whole different way of interacting with design objects and art objects. And there’s so many ways to make people feel confident about art that we don’t really have that in the design world. I think it’s part of our job to figure out how to make people confident about spending money and using [design pieces].
There’s more faith and confidence in the art market because it’s been there for much longer. People have felt more comfortable spending large sums on paintings for their walls because a lot of museums have those paintings, there are many places telling them that that painting has value. There’s fewer voices doing that in the design world. There’s only a handful of museums collecting design and promoting it because it’s this thing about using the objects.