Jewellery dealer Richard Spicer of Spicer Warin looks forward to his first appearance as an exhibitor at the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair (September 15-20).
When he put his name on the waiting list two years ago he had no equivalent UK events, but he recalls that choosing his first London fair was not particularly difficult.
A long-time attendee of LAPADA’s annual event, Spicer was drawn to its central location, its intimate set-up and its approachability.
“The price point can be quite high, as is the standard throughout,” he adds, “but there are also things at LAPADA that are more affordable.”
This can be contrasted with fairs such as Masterpiece or Frieze Masters where the impression of luxury is presented both in terms of price point and object quality, and can be off-putting to first-time buyers or new collectors.
Now, as Spicer looks ahead to his first appearance as a LAPADA Fair exhibitor, it is largely the chance to meet clients, new both to him and to the trade, which excites him.
“I expect to meet people across the board,” he says. “I really enjoy meeting people whether they are collectors, dealers or people in general who want to discuss jewellery.”
The LAPADA fair brings together 110 exhibitors in its purpose-built venue in Berkeley Square where it has taken place for the past nine years. As well as Spicer Warin, 12 first-time exhibitors take part this year including MacConnal-Mason, Sphinx Fine Art, Zarco Antiques and Bentleys. Around 10 exhibitors are also returning after some time away including Patrick Sandberg Antiques, Mayflower Antiques and Babbington Fine Art.
This edition is marked by a new schedule, running from a Friday to the following Wednesday.
It is a tried and tested fair model and director Mieka Sywak hopes that it will bring in those business travellers who come to or leave London for a calendar week at a time, bolstering visitor numbers.
Footfall is one of her key focuses as she arranges the annual fair.
“The key to keeping both visitors and exhibitors returning is constantly re-examining the fair
Nearly every adjustment to this year’s event can be traced to the possibility of increasing the number of shoppers through the doors.
There is the new principal sponsor, for example, Killik & Co, a private investment house that has invited all its client members to the event. And there’s an updated programme of lectures, as well as a series of workshops this year, including a session on Renaissance sugar sculpture and a session by exhibitor Rebecca Hossack on the history of Aboriginal art.
The key to keeping both faithful visitors and exhibitors returning is constantly re-examining the fair to widen its appeal. Otherwise, she says, “why would people come again? We have to evolve.”
She also devotes herself to the comfort of the dealers, from security (she notes that since the theft at Masterpiece they have “adjusted accordingly”) to climate control. This year she also speaks enthusiastically about the new floral partner, McQueens, who will be preparing their arrangements for the event and, she is sure, reinforcing the high-end tone and give a sense of occasion.
It is enough to keep many exhibitors coming back, among them Wakelin & Linfield, whose Helen Linfield is head of the vetting committee at the fair.
For her, the event is important in part as a chance to kick off the busy autumn season after sleepy warmer months. “In the summer, people are interested in holidays, not their homes,” she says. “But around this time of year people start thinking about their interiors and their collections again.”
By common consensus the fair is particularly attractive to shoppers from the surrounding area, whether on business, popping over from the fashion week or visiting from their country homes. But Mayfair is a patently diverse area – even those people falling in the above category can come from a huge range of backgrounds and tastes.
That is no concern to Sywak, though, who views the fair like Mayfair itself: a little bit of everything.