October 14, 2014
Luxury automakers are vying for visibility at the Frieze Art Fair Oct. 15-18 in London to further align with the hyper-concentrated art world.
Whether commissioning installations or setting up interaction spaces, automakers understand that a strong reputation in this arena will likely translate to sales and reflect upon their own design aesthetics. As the art world continues to become more expensive and competitive, luxury brands from all categories stand to enhance and benefit from the atmospheres of art fairs.
"Art remains an ongoing passion for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Frieze Art Fair is one of the world’s premier international contemporary art fairs," said Emma Rickett, global lifestyle communications manager at Rolls-Royce, New York. "Rolls-Royce has an individual approach to the arts which is both bespoke and unique, reflecting Rolls-Royce motor cars themselves.
"As part of this initiative we commission art works in situations which are also bespoke and unique, with artists that we admire, providing opportunities to present these works to our clients in interesting settings.
"We also get the opportunity to provide access to these artists for our clients through talks and events, giving them unique and memorable experiences."
The place to be
Like other major art fairs, the Frieze Art Show takes place in more than one city throughout the world to cater to globally-dispersed art consumers. New York and London, two of the biggest markets for art, host the two Frieze Art Shows.
The Frieze Art Show in London showcases works by more than 1,000 artists and will host 162 top galleries. Universal Design Studio created a "bespoke" space for the fair in London that places an emphasis on public spaces.
This year's event features a new section called "Live" that includes active or performance-based installations.
British automakers are working to build upon the buzz generated by the event and divert some of the traffic flooding into city.
Rolls-Royce commissioned Berlin-based artist and Turner Prize winner Angela Bulloch to create an installation that will be on display through Oct. 23. According to the brand, "Ms. Bulloch is known for her interest in systems, patterns and rules, and the creative territory between mathematics and aesthetics."
Her installation, "Cipher of L.," is an interpretation of the brand's design principles. Ms. Bulloch sought to capture the brand's elevation of craftsmanship while continuing her construction of Pixel Boxes.
Cipher of L. by Angela Bulloch
To figure out how to mesh the two concepts, she travelled to the brand's headquarters in Goodwood to view the craftsmen at work.
Some brand elements incorporated into design include hand-applied wood veneers and colors from the brand's bespoke 44,000 hue pallet. Ms. Bulloch also wanted to emulate the floating quality of Rolls-Royce vehicles.
Ultimately, the installation has the same dimensions of a Rolls-Royce Phantom and its various color panels emit light that fall on surrounding vehicles.
"Cipher of L." will be displayed in the brand's London Showroom in Berkeley Square, which is a short drive from the Frieze Art Fair in the southern part of The Regent's Park.
Land Rover enlisted Italian artist Nino Mustica to collaborate with the brand's design director Gerry McGovern. "Unstoppable Spirit" includes two sculptures that climb 23 feet into the air.
Unstoppable Spirit - a collaboration between Nino Mustica and Gerry McGovern, Land Rover
Similar to Ms. Bolloch's installation, the two sculptures explore the interweaving qualities of art and automotive design.
Gerry McGovern and Nino Mustica for Land Rover
Prior to the installation's debut Oct. 14 at the Royal Festival Hall along the Thames River, the brand has been generating interest via a dedicated Web page.
BMW, the parent company of Rolls-Royce, is an official sponsor of the Frieze London and will therefore have spaces and promotions set up within the actual fair.
Other key art shows are on the horizon as well, and brands in other categories are lining up to attract attendees.
For instance, Mandarin Oriental, Miami is highlighting its affiliation to Art Basel Miami as the fair arrives Dec. 4.
Guests of the property’s MO Lounge + Bar will get the chance to view an exclusive art exhibit Dec. 4-7. Since art enthusiasts from all over the world will be traveling to Miami for Art Basel, the property is aiming to encourage some of that traffic to book rooms or just dine for an evening (see story).
For Rolls-Royce, involvement in the world of art is not just good for attracting clients, but it also helps to orient the brand's design direction.
"Rolls-Royce’s involvement with art goes back nearly as far as the inception of the brand and we see our involvement with the world of art as an ongoing commitment," Ms. Rickett said.
"Indeed, it all started 102 years ago when the marque commissioned Charles Sykes, the renowned sculptor, to design and craft the Spirit of Ecstasy," she said. "Perhaps the most recognisable and enigmatic icon in the automotive world."
Joe McCarthy, staff writer on Luxury Daily, New York