Design Dealers: Kim Hostler and Juliet Burrows Interviewed | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Design Dealers: Kim Hostler and Juliet Burrows Interviewed

Design Dealers: Kim Hostler and Juliet Burrows Interviewed
Juliet Burrows and Kim Hostler
(Courtesy Hostler Burrows)

New York gallery Hostler Burrows is a leader for Nordic design in the North American market, focusing on studio ceramics, cabinet-maker furniture, and artisan textiles. Starting out as Antik in 1998, the gallery has assumed the names of the owners in 2012.

Name: Kim Hostler and Juliet Burrows

Ages: 54 +50

Hail from: Both from the Northeast

Owners of: Hostler Burrows, 51 East 10th Street, New York, NY

Gallery's Specialty: Nordic Design

Designers/Artists Represented: Josef Frank, Berndt Friberg, Axel Einar Hjorth, Finn Juhl, Bodil Manz, Kristina Riska, Maren Kloppmann, Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist, Carl Malmsten, Barbro Nilsson, Carl Harry Stålhane, Axel Salto, Richard Filipowski, Eva Zethraeus

First show: Axel Salto: Forces of Nature, 1999

What shows do you have planned for this year?

For our upcoming spring exhibition, we will be showcasing new works by three innovative female ceramic artists, Kristina Riska, Maren Kloppmann and Eva Zethraeus, from our contemporary program. What we love about these artists are the bold ways in which they explore the expressiveness of clay, their primary medium, and their defiance of the constructs of traditional ceramic sculpture making.

Riska’s latest experimentations with clay have been in the monumental scale, an impressive attribute for work executed in this particular medium. Kloppmann, a ceramic artist based in Minneapolis, will contribute works from her Wall Pillow Field series. These mosaic-like wall mounted sculptures are a study in the ways in which Kloppmann's hand molded and glazed elements occupy three dimensional space using the effects of definitive relief, depth, texture and color. Zethraeus will bring her playful Bubble and Branch sculptures reminiscent of botanical and biological specimens detailed with platinum and phosphorescent accents.

What was the vision behind founding the gallery?

We first took inspiration from the unmatched beauty of Scandinavian ceramics, which was the impetus for our first show, Axel Salto: Forces of Nature.

We soon discovered that such superb craftsmanship and quality was not relegated to ceramic art; it transcended the boundaries of medium and we were inspired to promote the designs of architects and artisans such as Finn Juhl, Axel Einar Hjorth, and the weaver Barbro Nilsson, all relatively unknown 20 years ago in the market.

The program has evolved through our particular tastes - we invest in artists and designers whose work we love and would live with ourselves, but that also fits in aesthetically with our program.

What have been some of the most significant achievements and landmark moments of the gallery?

We consider our pioneering show, Axel Salto: Forces of Nature, to be one our most significant achievements. We successfully defined Salto as an unprecedented talent, and as someone who redefined and reinvigorated ceramic artistry. The recognition that this show garnered was a significant validation of our passion for Scandinavian ceramic art, and is responsible for launching us into a leadership role in this particular area of study.

Later, our transition from Antik to Hostler Burrows was an important marker in our own redefinition. By moving on from the name Antik, which confined us to 20th Century Scandinavian design, we opened ourselves to exploring the integration of contemporary artists and non-Nordic designers into our vintage program. Inclusion of these artists has allowed us to further explore the relationships between artmaking in the past and present, and even to find continuity between the two, particularly in the field of studio ceramic art.

We are also proud to have been a founding member of Design Miami/ Basel, and continue to be a core participant and dealer. Fairs are a significant part of our program, and we enjoy creating installations at the varied fairs in which we participate, including Design Miami/Basel, The Salon: Art + Design, The Winter Antiques Show, and the burgeoning Fog Fair in San Francisco.

How has the design market changed since you entered the business? What trends are you seeing?

With the advent of the Internet, the design market has become more specialized. Initially, we were primarily responsible for educating our clients about our stable of artists and designers. Now that their interests are augmented by online research, both clients and dealers are more knowledgeable. A trend we are seeing now is a fluidity in collecting habits. Instead of buying categorically, our clients are apt to mix vintage pieces more freely with fine art and contemporary design.

In a market-driven trade such as design, unfavorable trends tend to disappear on their own.

Who was the last up-and-coming designer you encountered that thoroughly impressed you?

Kristina Riska, a ceramic artist who had shown for some time in Finland, is just beginning to emerge in the United States. Her large-scale, hand-built sculptures are totally arresting – at once mysterious and powerful, yet imbued with an emotional tenderness and delicacy.

Maren Kloppmann is another noteworthy designer on the rise. Her installations are paradoxically both architectonic and biomorphic. This feature was especially apparent in her recent installation, “Murmuration” (2015), at Design Miami/Basel. It was incredible to behold how Kloppmann could employ such precise linework and geometry to evoke something as dynamic and fluid as a migrating flock of birds.

What qualities must a good gallerist possess?

We owe our longevity to operating with integrity, and equal parts energy and patience. Keeping curious and inquisitive has been vital to our learning and evolving within our field. Good taste is a must, but no good gallerist should ascribe to playing it safe. Our willingness to take risks has often resulted in our most exciting discoveries.

If the constrictions of ordinary existence were not a problem, what one work of design would you love to own?

The unique Axel Salto Vase sold at Phillips two years ago, which we sold to its original owner in 1999.

If you weren’t a gallerist, you’d probably be ….

JB: Dance critic. KH: Organic farmer.

Design is….

Often best defined by nature.