Roman and Williams’s New Gallery Champions Contemporary Decorative Artists From Around the World

And that’s something she could execute: Standefer and her husband, Stephen Alesch, had renovated the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s British Galleries, which opened in February 2020 to critical acclaim. So when a space opened up right next to RW Guild, Standefer knew exactly what she wanted to do with it.

At a base level, the Guild Gallery is a display space for contemporary design masters. Its inaugural exhibition, “Container and Content,” is of Hirai’s vases and jars. Each piece is useable, but the point is to demonstrate the object’s artistry. “While the Guild celebrates a beauty that derives from function, the Gallery focuses purely on form,” explains Standefer.

A work by Akiko Hirai.Photo: By Adrian Gaut

Standefer and Alesch also hope to change the stagnant belief that art and functional craftwork are mutually exclusive. The Guild now represents 12 artists (”we call them ‘artists’ because that’s who they are,” says Standefer) who work in mediums such as marble, wood, and glass. They will show, sell, and promote their works much like a blue-chip gallery in Chelsea does. Everything will be *au courant—*not antique.

Most of all, they will try to educate everyone who walks in that contemporary decorative art is, well, exactly that: an artform. “Objects like these contain profound stories about nature, culture, domesticity and craft,” says Standefer.

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