A Conversation with Deborah Colman of Pavilion

"Sometimes it is very important and refreshing to look with your eyes,
not as a dealer of design and art, but as a human being."

"My innate sense of what is avante-garde has guided us over the years, 
even if the market lagged behind."- Deborah Colman

all photos taken by Bob Coscarelli for You Have Been Here Sometime

above: Heron Floor Lamp french c 1970 signed R Broissand Santangelo, drawing by Lukas Machnik, 
Table lamp by Willy Daro; The terra cotta sculpture, USA signed F Warren, unknown artist; Dish by Georges Jouve; Polished stainless steel Plopp Stool by Oskar Zieta 

I've been speaking with Deborah Colman for the past couple months about her Chicago design gallery, Pavilion Antiques and 20th century Design in Bucktown.  We spoke of her entry into design, and in particular, the latest show at her white-cubed gallery, "Black/Noir" which includes works by Lukas Machnik, Rick Owens, Jonas Fernando Pires, & Nora Renaud. When asked about the current focus of Pavilion, she mentions "Of course we always bought Prouve, Mouille etc, but when the auctions started to drive the prices up and other economic conditions changed we started looking for other designers and also began our relationships with contemporary living designers. I am always looking!" And with this, we began a conversation about her current show, and her recent travels to Paris, as she confessed, "my eye is always traveling."  Thank you Deborah.  - David John

The beginnings of Pavilion Antiques? 

Pavilion was born out of the love of "the hunt." The hunt was for whatever pleased us: industrial, modern, folk art, beautiful objects, patina, a sense of history of the object.  Both myself and my business partner Neil Kraus come from an art background, both holding MFA’s from the Art Institute of Chicago, a sense of history was always important and also the artfulness of the object seemed to always lead the way, whether it was important attribution or not. So it was always our intention to include artists in our shop/gallery.

Our neighborhood was a pioneer and has long been known for various annual art events, Around the Coyote being the best known, which we always participated in by presenting artists we knew in collaboration with our collection.

above: Designer/Artist Lukas Machnik and Owner Deborah Colman at Pavilion

below: untitled drawings by Lukas Machnik, Georges Jouve Patte de Ours Ceramic black dish,
Rosette Bir sculpture, Maria Pergay 70's lamp on  Angelo Mangiarotti Black Marquina Eros Table.

When did Pavilion begin, and how have you seen the market change?

Pavilion has existed since 1997. Always following what we loved rather than the market from the inception has been both good and bad. Perhaps we missed out on some opportunities in the design market, although we did pioneer an interest in French 1970’s from the beginning, even before it was identified. My innate sense of what is avante-garde has guided us over the years, even if the market lagged behind.   The market has changed in that everyone is a dealer with the internet being so transparent so that being a pioneer is more and more difficult. That is why we do 2 – 3 focused shows a year on unknown artists working both in France and the United States that focus on vision, creativity and avante-garde materials.

Has your focus changed over the years of owning the store?

Pavilion’s focus changed over the years from its eclectic nature to a concentration on work by a cadre of designers and architects both French, Italian and sometimes American working outside the parameters of already established known work. Of course we always bought Prouve, Mouille etc, but when the auctions started to drive the prices up and other economic conditions changed we started looking for other designers and also began our relationships with contemporary living designers. I am always looking!

Design Fairs. Did Pavilion participate in Collective Design this year, or any other fairs? Thoughts on how these fairs are developing?

Pavilion participated in fairs across the US for many years. At this moment no fairs are of interest to us except perhaps the evolution of Collective Design.

Tell me about your recent trip to Paris and Amsterdam. What did you see?

In Paris where I was acting as a tour guide for a friends family, I revisited Versailles after 20 yrs and delighted again in the gardens and especially the architectural elegance of the Trianon and the Petit Trianon.  A special moment was our week in Paris was also a private 5 hour tour of the Louvre, the only way to see the treasures of the Louvre, such as Leonardo Da Vincis other paintings than the Mona Lisa. Stand in front of St John the Baptist and weep at the darkness of the darks and transparence of the skin. I also went back for the second time to "Dynamo" at the Grand Palais, a survey of art and the notions of space, vision and light running through the abstract art of the 20th century. The best show I have seen in a few years including artists such as Dan Flavin, Hans Haacke, James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Jean Tinguely, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Bridget Riley, Dan Graham, Takis, as well as artistic collectives such as GRAV (Group of visual Arts research), and the Groupe Zéro. 

In Amsterdam I was fortunate to see the newly reopened after a 10 yr restoration and remounting of the collection of the Riyksmuseum Treasures of Dutch painting and culture.  Sometimes it is very very to look with your eyes not as a dealer of design and art but as a human being.There is a new market at the flea market at Clingancourt and it is composed of Habitat 1964 Vintage, Gallery Gam, and L'Eclaireur showing only art and objects, and a few pieces of clothing as object, a small cafe.   At L' Eclaireur in the flea market, the Italian artist Vincenzo de Cotiis.

Tell me about " BLACK/NOIR." and the designers included in this show? How did this show come about?

Black/Noir came about from my interest in the color black and why it holds such a strong power in the creative realms of design, art, and fashion. Plus seeing that I am drawn to materials that communicate from form, the absence of color, black, white, grey. And I only wear black.

How did you find Lukas Machnik's work? What particularly impressed you about his latest collection?

Lukas is also an interior architect/designer and we became acquainted when he became a client of mine while sourcing unusual design objects, lighting and furniture for his projects.  One day when I was making a presentation to him at his studio I saw some drawings that were remarkable. They were his and I said, I want to show these drawings at Pavilion. That was in 2012 and the show sold out. This also started a very collaborative relationship where he relied on me to advise him on important design and curating objects, furniture, lighting for his client’s homes and then starting to view it as a collection.  When this winter he showed me various processes he was working on in all black, using paper, ink, fire and wood, I immediately said, another show, now!!! And the sketches of furniture he showed me that were influenced by monumental and brutalist architecture, artists and architects such as Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, Carlo Scarpa, these influences are close to mine and we found the dialogue to be very genuine and innate. So I encouraged him to build the pieces for the show and create an edition for each design. More is to follow in other materials.

I met Jonas Fernando Pires in Paris and thought here is another architect/ designer speaking the same language and he is a brother to Lukas’s work and way of thinking.  And Nora Renaud, sculptor, jeweler, artist from Paris as well, enough said, phenomenal. Plus I always want to continue my dialogue with French design at Pavilion. 

works from Black/Noir:

 above: Rick Qwens Bronze Duck Neck Vase

Monument Chair by Lukas Machnik 

What to you defines a successful design object?  Is it style, its non/function?

A successful design object for me always is grounded in its beauty, and that is a very individual definition. And in its sense of discovery.

What is the design culture like in Chicago? Is there a wealth of collectors and young designers?

There are a lot of young designers in Chicago, not a wealth. I find their thought process to be influenced heavily by experimentation and theory. Not always a great materiality. And Chicago is a tough place to be a designer in unless one has national international attention.  That does not always translate into commercial success.

What's next for Pavilion Antiques?

My eye is always traveling.

Pavilion 20th Century Design and Decorative Arts
2055 North Damen, Chicago IL 60647

All photos taken by Bob Coscarelli  for You Have Been Here Sometime. Thank you Bob!

Bernar Vene t@ ACE : Los Angeles
"Venet's GRIBS, which begin as automatic, imprecise scribbles recorded on paper with finite precision, are transformed in a manufacturing process that is, in the same but opposite way, precise in the manufacturing but guided by something inherent and inexplicable in the natural constraints of the material." 

"Gribouillis": to doodle (a small mindless sketch)

"The GRIB sculptures act as living drawings. Two-dimentional drawings by Venet, quick, lose sketches, typically made on a glossy card, sometimes without his even looking, are then enlarged by computer to a plastic form, and are eventually transformed into giant, wall-mounting 3-dimentional steel structures. The inexplicable, frenetic movement of the artist's hand in the first stage of the process is akin to the surrealist concept of automatic writing and it is elevated as a meaningful gesture by their final, monumental scale.  The 1.5-inch steel plates used by Venet are torch-cut, a technique that adds to the unpredictable nature of the artist's "scribbles,"—"gribouillis" in French—and gives these works a rougher character that is less elegant and accessible than their relief predecessors.  The recent works are liberated from the control of his previous constructions. Where those accorded to precise mathematics, these give way to the inherent possibilities and proclivities of the material. Venet reflects, "my work at the factory is a game of natural constraints between my intentions and the material itself. Each orients the other and is oriented in its turn. By not changing its nature, I do not manipulate its appearance; that would involve creating artifices. In my sculpture, I am intent on keeping the energy of the atomic mass and its relationship to gravity, on respecting its singularity and its identity."

studio vit
"The sea is a long, long way from me
 I'd go there if I had the time But lying here will do just fine" 

- the long days of summer feel beautifully intense.

"And still within a summer’s night 
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see —"

"Globe lights is a collection consisting of small globe shaped pendants and large steel reflectors. The matt ceramic spheres can be used on their own, grouped together or to cast light on to reflectors in gloss painted metal. The collection explores how geometric volumes relate to each other and the juxtaposition of materials and lighht."

studio vit 
13 Sanford Terrace
 London N16 7LH 

follow me to the sea.


Club Mood Swing : Stephen Aldahl 
June 15 - July 20, 2013 @ Young Art

"There was a time I call before
When all I knew was what I saw 
The keeper of a major key 
I lived in a town called liberty" 

I became aware of the works of Stephen Aldahl a few years ago, when I was invited to his studio to preview some works that would later become part of his 2011 "A, F, K, Q & Z" show at Young Art.  Young Art Gallery, sits on a small side street in Chinatown, LA, and owner Kate Hillseth curates some of the most understated shows in the city.  It's the sort of space you might walk past for years, before becoming aware of its presence. Aldahl's latest works on canvas have a similar sort of suddenness. His earlier works hinted at these larger beautiful abstractions, which now stand tall, slender, and quietly unfolding. Their presence calling to mind Hockney and Gallace, and other pastoral painters that chased light with steady determination and free hands.  A breakthrough of a show.  - David John  

"For Club Mood Swing, Aldahl presents a group of new paintings on door-shaped canvases accompanied by an installation.  The door, a practical structure designed for a body to enter or exit while also possessing the symbolic weight of a passageway between worlds, in this case imposes an immediate obstruction as the images portrayed in Aldahl's paintings seem to extend horizontally beyond the confines of the canvas. Amorphous forms of subdued color create scenes of disorienting pastoral landscapes, bodies colliding, and architectural structures against uncertain surroundings. Most traces of painterly expression have been suppressed and while these surreal pictorial compositions move toward representation, their final image remains suspended. Vaguely alluding to larger narratives the way a mural would illustrate great histories or epic sagas the paintings fail to intimate any story."

Young Art: Chinatown 
418 Bamboo Lane Unit B, 
Los Angeles, CA 90012

"But there's a full moon risin'
Let's go dancin' in the light 
We know where the music's playin' 
Let's go out and feel the night."


Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes

June 15–September 23, 2013 at MoMA

"So before seeing a single drawing, painting, or model by Le Corbusier, we are confronted with his death, but also with what is arguably the most personal of his projects..." - John Hill

'When?' said the moon to the stars in the sky
'Soon' said the wind that followed them all  
'Who?' said the cloud that started to cry - The Proposition

"Before walking through the sliding glass doors to the first section of the exhibition, the visitor comes across a full-scale interior (the first of four interiors specially built for the exhibition) of the Cabanon Le Corbusier built in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France. One wall of the small, single-room cabin is removed to reveal the intricately designed interior; a small window reveals a drawn landscape, the same distant shore where he drowned in the summer of 1965. So before seeing a single drawing, painting, or model by Le Corbusier, we are confronted with his death, but also with what is arguably the most personal of his projects, so seemingly unlike the houses and urban plans he has long been associated with." - John Hill via World Architects

"MoMA presents its first major exhibition on the work of Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965), encompassing his work as an architect, interior designer, artist, city planner, writer, and photographer. Conceived by guest curator Jean-Louis Cohen, the exhibition reveals the ways in which Le Corbusier observed and imagined landscapes throughout his career, using all the artistic techniques at his disposal, from his early watercolors of Italy, Greece, and Turkey, to his sketches of India, and from the photographs of his formative journeys to the models of his large-scale projects. His paintings and drawings also incorporate many views of sites and cities. All of these dimensions are present in the largest exhibition ever produced in New York of his prodigious oeuvre." 
- via MOMA