Lawndale's Design Fair

1stdibs' Michael Bruno to Speak

Steven Hempel
March 28, 2013

On Wednesday, April 24, Lawndale Art Center launches Design Fair 2013, with 1stdibs founder and chairman Michael Bruno giving a lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The action picks back up Friday, April 26, with a preview party chaired by Martha Claire Tompkins and Pepper Paratore, and spans the weekend through Sunday, as Lawndale shows the work of both emerging and established retailers and designers.

This year’s Fair, co-curated by Jenny Lynn Weitz-Amaré Cartwright and Scott Cartwright of WAC Design Studio, is focused on small works, intimate objects, jewelry, accessories and, of course, the mid-century modern furnishings for which the Fair is known. Garrett Hunter, who has curated previous Fairs and sits on Lawndale’s Advisory Committee, says the goal of the Fair is to produce “a balanced dialogue between vintage and contemporary by showing design produced from the early 20th century to this day.”

As a past participant, I have personal experience with this event, which has become an important component of the local design scene. Part education, part retail experience, the Design Fair allows designers and retailers to connect with the broader community … interacting with some of the brightest minds in local design. While the yearly focus may change, the broader goals of engaging the public and educating consumers about the talent in the city remain the same.

New to this year’s Fair are local retailers Settlement Goods & Design and Saint Cloud, which will open its Rice Village shop in early May. Others to keep an eye out for include Manready Mercantile, fine art/craft gallery Fl!ght of San Antonio and craft-based artist Bari Zipperstein, whose ceramic vases celebrate modernist architecture and California cool. Also making its debut is the Texas Co-op, brainchild of curators Jenny Lynn and Scott Cartwright, which offers guests a behind-the-scenes look at the design process as it takes shape. Serving as an on-site laboratory for demonstration and interaction with 3-D printers, rapid prototyping and CNC technology, the lab was conceived to start dialogues within the creative community and to serve as a platform for bigger projects down the road. 

But this year, it all begins with 1stdibs founder Michael Bruno’s lecture, in conjunction with the MFAH Design Council, at the Brown Auditorium, Wednesday, April 24, 6:30 pm. Bruno has turned 1stdibs — the online global luxury marketplace for antiques, mid-century modern furniture and lighting, fashion and estate jewelry — into a global phenomenon. He offers these insights into the online world of luxury goods:

• Look for a strengthening market (following two years of softness coinciding with the recession), as the past few months have seen strong traffic and sales across all categories. 

• Among the categories that 1stdibs serves, furniture and fine art continue to see the most traffic, while fashion and jewelry receive the most attention from the press. 

• Houston and Dallas have more buyers for Birkin bags than any other market in the world — with the exception of London.

• Interesting sales? Last year, 1stdibs sold a 1954 Christian Dior Oscar gown worn by Natalie Portman for $50,000.

Lawndale Design Fair 2013

Preview Party & Sale: Friday, April 26, 6 – 9 pm, at Lawndale Art Center; tickets $60 for Lawndale members, $75 nonmembers; purchase at door or through 713.528.5858

Fair Days: Saturday and Sunday, April 27 – 28, 10 am – 5 pm, at Lawndale Art Center; general admission $5

Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main St., 713.528.5858;