Art and design fairs often provide a platform for emerging designers—Design Miami has long commissioned installations for its entrance, and Frieze New York’s serpentine tent gave a serious boost to the career of SO-IL, to name a few. But this year, the Independent Art Fair took a risk, hiring a couple of untested young collaborators to design the exhibition spaces at its New York fair, which opens today and runs through March 9.
The fair, founded by art dealers Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook, is known as a cool, less fussy, but well-turned-out alternative to the massive Armory Show, which takes place at the same time. Galleries are chosen by referral, rather than an application, with an emphasis on mounting exhibitions as much as selling art. Now in its fifth year, the Independent is held in a former warehouse that was once home to the Dia Art Foundation. To temporarily partition three floors of open space into separate display areas for each of the fair’s 56 galleries, the organizers turned to Andrew Feuerstein and Bret Quagliara, who met as undergraduates at the University of Colorado, Boulder and went on to work together at New York-based Leven Betts Studio. The duo also collaborates on their own work, and through a friend who was until recently a director at Dee’s gallery, they landed the gig to design temporary partitions for the Independent, their first commission.