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A Look Inside NOMAD St Moritz

 Highlights from NOMAD, the traveling showcase for contemporary art and collectible design, this year held in St. Moritz. 

Rolf Sachs, Alpine Sledges

For it's 11th edition, NOMAD returns to St Moritz in a unique location: it is set in a historic hotel, which was initially built in 1906 in accordance with plans by the renowned architect Nicolaus Hartmann in the Art Nouveau style. Undergoing an extensive renovation to be fully relaunched as hotel Grace La Margna this summer, the rough walls and Art Deco detailing offer the perfect back drop for a curated selection of 30-galleries and special projects that feature art, architecture, and design in a bespoke and intimate setting.

“The heritage building is a natural partner for cultural events year-round, especially since it showcases some of the best examples of Engadin architecture by Nicolaus Hartmann”, hotel director David Frei explains. Great architecture is what guests encounter at first before discovering an artful edition where sustainability takes centre stage. In what will become the lobby of the new hotel this summer, a large table by Martino Gamper and a tapestry by Ettore Sottsass hangs above a chimney, sets the tone.

1970's Calder Jute Rug

“We brought our values on board and our vision is to build a better future together with the younger generation. Our aim might even be to reach a fully sustainable show, but not only through the prism of recycling plastic or waste: showcasing the building process, engaging with cultural heritage, preserving craft techniques or working with local communities are all important ways of structuring this new sustainability chapter”, explains NOMAD co-founder Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte.

For this edition, 11 sustainable projects were brought under one roof, including a Murano glass installation which merges into a red neon-lit bar (Yali Bar, Yali Glass); Rolf Sachs’ great Alpine Suite with stunning wood pieces like what looks like a bench composed of a duo of head-to-tail sledges; Rossana Orlandi’s projects like Alcarol’s Chiron table that looks like a slice of a melting glacier; the Spaceless Gallery’s incredible glass project with Jamaican-born artist Hugh Findletar who turns Murano glass vases into figurative heads awaiting a floral hair-do; or an homage to Tibetan rug making by Tsherin Sherpa with Mt. Refuge’s incredibly intricate tantric inspired scenes featuring wild tigers. “For each and every edition of the design and art fair, we research new galleries, invite others with special projects, showcase the most inspiring jewelry makers like Brazilian Fernando Jorge who sources petrified wood, gold and diamonds sustainably”, Giorgio Pace, NOMAD’s other co-founder comments.

Through our visit of this year’s edition, we identified three dominant themes. 

Hugh Findletar planter (c) Spaceless Gallery

Alpine feel. Many projects are paying tribute to the mountain lifestyle: Rolf Sach’s collection of rocks transformed into coat hangers (or just a beautiful art installation) is one example. Francesca Neri Antonello’s table composed of a 4-m long wood bloc, an underlying iron frame and a recycled resin bloc installed at the end like a side table was another striking example.

Great crafts. What can’t the hand do? One wonders when looking at Nilufar’s booth: it welcomes countless ceramic pieces by Lola Montes Schnabel, including a series of colorful artichoke candleholders and tile paintings made from volcanic ash and clay from Mount Etna, Sicily. Look for Yvonne Rogenmoser’s painted and glazed plates shown by Second Nature Design Projects and Christian Pelizzari’s giant flower light-installations sculpted out of colorful glass pieces.

Artful rugs. Whether it’s Kiki Van Eijk’s colorful and quirky collage rugs displayed by Spazio Nobile, The Gallery of Everything’s stunning collection of 1970s Calder jute rugs made in collaboration with Guatemalan artisans or Second Nature Design Projects’ Tapestry in jacquard weaves by Stephanie Baechler in Merino wool, cotton, alpaca, linen, lurex, mohair and rubber, the boundaries of tapestry are being challenged.