Design cognoscenti and art collectors are very familiar with R & Company: for the past 21 years, the renowned New York gallery has been a beacon of collectible design. It seemed only natural then, that The Invisible Collection teamed up with R & Company in an exclusive collaboration aimed at expanding their international network of designers; but also with the purpose of sharing their passion for and knowledge about modern and contemporary design. While in London for the opening of The Invisible Collection showroom, Evan Snyderman – one of the founders of the company – was kind enough to answer our questions and share with us a story that started on a passion and a vision and turned into a success:
How did R & Company start?
We founded the company in 1997. At the time, Zesty Meyers and I, we were both living in NY and working as glass and performance artists with the B Team. We shared a similar interest in 20th century design and, shortly after, we started a flea market stand before moving to our first location on Wythe street in Williamsburg Brooklyn in 1997. In 2000 R & Company moved to Tribeca with a larger space and started to produce exhibitions and publications. In 2018 the gallery opened their second location at 64 White Street that is the new flagship space where the library and archives exists and exhibition will take place moving forward.
What were the main obstacles when you started?
One of the biggest challenges we had when starting R & Company was gaining access to information. There was no true scholarship when it came to design and this predated the internet so we had to do the research ourselves and ask the questions through books, magazines and travel. Also at the time, there wasn’t a controlled understanding of the marketplace for design. In the early days of growing the business, there was a disparity in pricing from one area of the country to the next. What you need to build a market, is controlled pricing, so that clients feel secure in their purchases, this is one of the biggest changes over the last few years.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt over the years?
One of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned is that we can succeed through our dedication to visual presentation, documentation and storytelling. We’ve built out our whole business around these three principles and as a result have set ourselves aside from our competitors.
What is the most dramatic change in design over the past 21 years?
The most dramatic change in the design world is that there is now a larger audience being introduced to 20th and 21st century design through fairs and exhibitions. For instance, the Design Miami fair has opened its doors to the contemporary art collectors who are discovering and buying design as collectable object versus something just to decorate their interiors. This shift in perception has expanded the collectors’ base and we see significant growth in the value of rare and important design works.
And what about your clients: what are the main differences between your first customers and today’s?
Our client base has not dramatically changed over the years. In fact, we have many of the same clients from our early days that we have built long lasting relationships with. The main difference is that now we have more clients and different audiences we work with. In recent years, museums have started to buy design and we’ve made a big effort to collaborate with institutions to place contemporary and historical works in museum collections and exhibitions.
Is the millennials’ approach different from that of the previous generation?
Social media play a big part in the promotion of our gallery and we see it as a great opportunity to share our design globally. The online presents of R & Company has also brought a much wider audience and many of the millennials are just starting to become clients. We have a long and exciting future ahead with them.
What made you choose The Invisible Collection as a partner?
We choose The Invisible Collection as a partner, out of a respect for what they have done with their business. Their outlook on design and clients align with R & Company’s brand values.
What do you like about their approach to contemporary design?
We like The Invisible Collections’ curated list of designers they collaborate with. The website is also very accessible and easy to discover new design.
What’s the next “big thing” in design?
There’s a lot of talent coming out of the design schools, in particular a new wave of designers following a similar trend of a unique combination of contemporary art concepts with traditional craft. There’s an extraordinary amount of creativity, humor and wit in contemporary design.
Courtesy Joe Kramm / R & Company
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