What do you collect?
Brent Dzekciorius: ‘Predominantly, I collect contemporary design and ceramics. Because I have a role in this creative field, a big part of collecting is about patronage and keeping the creative cycle moving forward. I’m constantly looking for ways to support friends and colleagues. It’s these relationships that channel or direct my interest, because I get very intimate knowledge about a particular studio or designer’s approach, who they are as people and how that informs their work. I think of myself as a kind of vehicle, who can communicate and transmit these things to other collectors and clients.’
When did you start collecting?
‘Weirdly, as a child I collected coins and stamps. But the first real piece of modern furniture was a George Nelson swag leg table and I bought it when I finished school in 1996. Then I started getting into Eames and I still have a couple of early production pieces, a DCM and a DCW. But I didn’t have the means to go and collect for a long time. It was through working, earning and spending time in the design world that I became able to commission pieces that I wanted, and to be able to afford them. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I would rather have had that or nothing, so I lived with very little for a long time.’
Have you always lived with your collection around you?
‘There are a few pieces in a small store room at the back, and I do have a few pieces in a warehouse, but for the most part, everything is made to live with. My collection is based on need – not exclusively, but predominantly. When I first moved to London from New York nearly five years ago, I moved with nothing but two Eames chairs, the George Nelson table, some art and my bicycle. So I called up Max Lamb, who I’ve worked with extensively and is a dear friend, and said, ‘I need you to make me a dining table and some chairs’. That was my first commission and it was because I really needed something. I’ll never forget the day he came with the table. We brought it into the house and then walked down to the high street, bought some sushi and brought it back and ate it on the table. And it was amazing – such a special moment to share a meal at this table that he’d just made for me. I still have it upstairs. That personal aspect of it definitely makes it one of my favourites.’
‘Design should serve a real purpose, it should make people’s lives simpler’
What’s the holy grail for you?
‘That’s a really hard question. At Design Miami, Jacques Lacoste had this Jean Royère for lamp that I had never seen before – apparently he only made two. It’s an unbelievable piece and made me look at Royère completely differently. I would love to have that. There’s plenty of Aalto I’d love to have. And then, I work quite a lot with Martino Gamper and we’re talking about him doing a bookshelf for us – so that is a holy grail. Or Michael Anastassiades doing some lights for us, that’s another one. There are so many! For me, it’s about working with people that I like and surrounding myself with things that embody their spirit, sensitivity and intelligence.’
What are your thoughts on design collections like the Victoria and Albert Museum?
‘They have an incredible collection and it’s invaluable to designers learning their craft. Having these reference points is also really important as a collector, to understand where your collection sits and how you want to mould your collection. The V&A is really active in reflecting contemporary ideas; I’ve sold a couple of pieces to them including some Nendo chairs from an exhibition I curated. They’re very active in collecting, and I’m grateful for that.’
Do you have a fixed idea of what ‘good design’ is?
‘It’s very subjective, but I do have some fairly rigid rules on what constitutes good design. For me, functionality is hugely important. I think when it deviates too far from that it becomes really indulgent and crosses over into a realm that I’m uncomfortable with, when the ‘design-art’ moniker comes into play. I think design should serve a real purpose, and I think it should make people’s lives simpler, more beautiful, or better somehow. I’m not really interested in trophy hunting; I’m more interested in outstanding pieces that service my needs or the needs of other people. That’s what design is really about.’
Photography by James Mollison