One of the most opulent pop-up experiences you are likely to encounter during summer 2016 is in an apartment in the heart of Mayfair. Milan’s famous Nilufar Gallery – who deal in important historical 20th Century design as well as representing innovative contemporary designers – has teamed up with interiors and architectural design company Shalini Misra Ltd (SML) to present a fictional living space which is all for sale. From Lady With a Guitar (1939) by Matisse in the living room to the refurbished Victorian property itself, the exhibition/shop is as much about real estate as it is a showcase for what is hot in interior design.
This is a project that the three women; Nilufar’s founder Nina Yashar, Shalini Misra and Mehves Ariburnu of SML have previously presented in locations in Paris, Beirut and Milan. The idea is an interesting one: giving life to the objects curated in a real living space. One hopes that the eventual buyer of the apartment will fall in love with the Deco-inspired bespoke Nero Marquina and Thassos marble flooring, as this would prove a bit more of a logistical nightmare than manouvering a Hans Bergström lamp or a Warhol screen print out of the door. The bathrooms are another triumph of marble on marble, mosaicking in black and white from the bath side to the floor all reflected in backlit mirrors.
There are some stunning mid century modern examples (I fell in love with a perfect Positano vanity table by Ico Parisi from 1959) and even the contemporary pieces more than nod to 1960s and 70s interiors; lots of brass and copper on light fittings, suede covered cupboards and geometric patterns running over rugs, tables and screens. It is wonderful to see London’s Bethan Laura Wood contributing science fiction-inspired, translucent light totems in one of the double bedrooms. With the earliest objects being a pair of easy chairs circa 1930 by Dutch designer Viggo Boesen, the pieces here show an eclectic selection of art and design from then until the present day.
The title of the installation, “Squat”, feels a little erroneous
The title of the installation, “Squat”, feels a little erroneous, given the level of luxury on show here. As I looked around I thought how much more fun it would be if the space had a sense that the occupants had momentarily left, with more personal effects visible: a robe on a bed, toiletries, even a personal photograph….but I had to keep reminding myself this wasn’t an art installation (think Helly Nahmad’s Imaginary Collector at Frieze 2014) and this is a selling showroom. Having said that, there is an overall calmness in the space that is testament to the collaborative expertise of these three women in the world of bespoke luxury. C
Squat, Flat 1, 70 South Audley Street, London W1, runs until October 15 2016; nilufarsquat.com