House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Nigel Coates

After the rigours of the big Basel opening, the architect embarks on a search for schnitzel

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Nigel Coates

June 14 2011
Nigel Coates

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Five am start. Comatose, I climb aboard my taxi to go to Heathrow Terminal One for my Swiss flight to Basel. I’m off to Design Miami/Basel where I’m exhibiting with Cristina Grajales Gallery from New York. The streets of Basel seem exceptionally quiet, even for Switzerland. As it turns out, it’s Pentecost, which could explain why TNT lost one of my pieces, which has turned up in Zurich and won’t make it in time.

As I enter the hall, my eyes take a while to adjust: unlike other fairs, this one’s dark wide alleys amplify the whole space, with very stylish stands every which way. Cristina’s stand looks superbly composed and beautifully lit. In the show I have three pieces (second picture): sofas and a chandelier that were first produced for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2008. They were part of a dreamy installation with film, but here you can really see them as objects, as sculptures.

In the afternoon two of Cristina’s other artists – Suzanne Tick, Sheila Hicks and I – take a break for the Art Unlimited show in the next hall. What a splendid white open space, so big in fact that the surging art-obsessed crowd wants to devour the work. Impressive installations by Anish Kapoor (with a giant wax-covered cheese, second picture) and a giant (stripey red) enclosure by Daniel Buren (third picture). My favourite piece is an exquisite overscaled mobile with chunks of plasterboard as weights, which slices steadily through the air like a ship in the night.

Later, after the VIP opening back in the Design Hall, our tired gang makes it out onto the street in search of schnitzel. We find them late enough but at a price: Switzerland must be the most expensive country in Europe.

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