This past Sunday concluded the fifth annual LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair in Berkeley Square, Mayfair. Established in 1974 as a premium trade society for UK dealers and experts in art and antiques, LAPADA, now with its 600 trade members worldwide, albeit UK majority, hosts one of the most sophisticated art fairs to date. Participating in the Fair this year along with 101 dealers and experts were a number of renowned sponsors in the likes of 1stdibs, Apollo, Harper’s Bazaar, Country Life and Berkeley Square London Dry Gin. The combination of such elite sponsorship with that of truly exceptional art and antiques emanated luxury in what appeared to be treasure chest in the middle of central London.
Although one can peruse Bond Street, Hatton Gardens and Burlington Arcade, among other London locations for their artful shopping, LAPADA Art Fair offered the overall experience, a rare opportunity to view an assortment of pieces carefully vetted by a committee of esteemed specialists all in one place. So, while one was able to survey and even secure art and antiques ranging from £500 to £500,000+, as well as speak with dealers specialising in everything from fine art, furniture, silver, jewellery and watches to ceramics, contemporary art, sculpture and even Japanese woodblock prints, there was much more to the Fair than might have met the collector’s eye.
I am not a collector myself, nor am I anything of an art expert. Nonetheless, the first day I attended the LAPADA Fair started with a breakfast lecture on collecting antique jewellery hosted by 1stdids, an elite online marketplace for antiques, and Harper’s Bazaar with Tiffany & Co. The panel discussion was as enlightening as it was engaging. I mean the topic was jewellery, need more be said? One might not have expected such an event to be a part of LAPADA’s fair programming, yet similar to the Fair itself, the discussion was not limited to a collecting perspective. Rather, events, amenities and even the design of the Fair grounds has become a part of its programming in a commitment to enhance both dealer and visitor experience.
Though the success of the Fair, or any art fair for that matter, is in the realisation of sales for the benefit of the dealers as well as the Fair itself, there recently has been more emphasis placed on collaborative projects. When I first arrived at the Fair I was greeted by a Palladian façade that thoughtfully considered the surrounding Georgian architecture in Berkeley Square. British interior designer Guy Goodfellow who was inspired by an 18th century map of central London featuring Berkeley Square in his design of the Fair grounds embraced all that was old London from his use of distressed stonework, as well as London city street lights hanging from the ceiling.
But it only got better from there. Walking through the dealer stalls I was able to taste high quality wines with the sommeliers of Hedonism Wines, talk shop with dealers like Jojo and Francesca Grima, Nick Silver, Chris Kleanthous, Alison Davey among others, have a coffee with some friends at the Taylor Street Baristas, as well as enjoy the many other amenities offered. If wanted, one could even have their Sunday Roast cooked by celebrity TV chef James Martin of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. There was even a Bush Theatre charity event co-chaired by British actor Jim Broadbent and Gianni Alen-Buckley, where Mark Hix was in charge of food and Oliver-nominated Caroline Horton was in charge of the laughs. It just goes to show that there is more to LAPADA than art and antiques.
Nicole Crisonino is Master of Arts Student at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and also a contributing writer for both Printed Editions in London & Harper’s Bazaar Art in China.