Design & Decoration S03 ep7 : Adrian Sassoon, Sassoon Gallery, [Knightsbridge]

Interview with Adrian Sassoon

Adrian Sassoon is the UK's leading dealer in contemporary ceramics, glass, silver and jewellery. Operating out of offices in Knightsbridge, London, Adrian Sassoon exhibits unique, museum-quality works of art at some of the world's most prestigious Art Fairs. Adrian Sassoon primarily represents UK-based artists, however the portfolio has expanded to include highly respected Japanese, Australian and Italian designers. Work can be viewed year-round, by appointment, in the London office."


I’m a dealer in works of art based in London and I have a history of working in a museum with
French 18th Century objects which I continue to do but when I’m at TEFAF I’m here working with
contemporary objects.

And we deal in the top, top end artist work, their work is all in museum collections, they’re artists
whose work year after year after year changes, develops and we try to have things that are
supremely smart, luxurious that continue the history of decorative arts.

I come from a family of people who collect and rather enjoy works of art and so it was embedded
in me as a child and I also crucially learnt to make ceramics while at school, taught by a very
eminent British ceramic artist, so as a teenager I liked to make things, that got me interested in
collecting objects at a stage when I was working professionally in a museum as a junior curator of
18th Century French objects but I was still collecting modern objects.

Curators would come to my home and say what is that, what is that and so I thought well I’ll do an
exhibition once a year and now it’s all year we’re doing exhibitions and we do exhibitions in
public places like this.

Henry Dunay Jewellery

I left school at the age of 18, I studied history of art for two years in London and it must have been
a year and a half because I was 19 by the time I started working at the Getty Museum in Los
Angeles, Malibu, reproduction of a roman villa, famous building on the Pacific coast with
excellent French 18th Century objects because I was taught to demonstrate why we venerated
historic objects to people to whom it did not matter whether they liked them or not, but it matters
to me to show them why other people like them and I think that I should be able to do that with
contemporary objects.

And then I went to work for a very eminent dealer for five years who sold major French, Italian,
German 18th Century, 17th Century objects in London and so then after five years there I thought
mmm it was time to do things on my own, that was 1992 so it’s nearly 20 years and I started
dealing in French 18th Century porcelain, which I continue to do.

Henry Dunay Jewellery

The history of decorative arts, not fine art, decorative arts, meant you’re looking at an object that
was built for a church use, for political royal use, noble use, domestic use and today’s objects
should have a purpose, jewellery should be worn by somebody to become a part of the history of
jewellery. A chair should be used somewhere, a chair that is just designed to be a spectacular
object which gets great attention in the modern media but never any real use for, is to me not part
of the real history of decorative arts and these objects do go home, they go to peoples’ homes, they
go to museums as well, but they are fitting in with a tradition of purpose and I think that’s a very
important thing and that means it’s a valid work of art. It’s not just an idea.

Staring into the mirror and seeing something that surprises you is a concept but it’s the mirror I
want to look at and the mirror’s got to be a good one.

Henry Dunay Jewellery

We look for new artists all the time, they’re generally not students fresh out of school except often
you have very, very skilled ceramic glass artists who spend 10-15 years making good career and
then they think it’s time for a boost and they go back to university such as the Royal College of Art
in London as an example and they get through a two year MA and they change their creativity with
skills they’ve had for a decade or more and then an injection of new sort of thinking and creativity
and time away from the normal earning a living but two years back at university and they go to
another level and it’s those MA graduates often are of great interest to us, and artists whose work is
genuinely every two or three years different.

Henry Dunay Jewellery

It’s got to be smart and it’s got to be really convincingly finished, presented, it’s got to sit amongst
other works of art and not that able to present objects that have to take an entire side of my gallery
space up to the exclusion of everything else because I think when people take it home that’s
unrealistic. I want things that have this continuity of skill.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Adrian Sassoon, Sassoon Gallery, Knightsbridge