Christie’s has announced the closure by the end of the year of its second rank London saleroom on the Old Brompton Road, Christie’s South Kensington, or as the trade always has it ‘CSK’. Long the haunt of dealers, like me, it was for the less costly items that were not quite the ca £5,000 price minimum for the firm’s King Street premises. Mind you, it was hardly a clearing house, with very many fine things, including sales from stately and aristocratic homes offered regularly. In recent years, it was at least notionally regarded by Christie’s as a retail even more than a trade resource, a venue for proto-collectors, with evening views offering wine and nibblies for an afterwork crowd. And they did crowd in.
Not enough of them, it seems, with Christie’s reporting their growth in new clients mostly from their online only sales, which they plan to expand. Will this make a bottom line difference? Probably not as much as the 250 staff positions the company also now plans to make redundant. It’s interesting to note, although there will be more emphasis in online sales, presumably the company plans to hedge its bets, keeping one foot on the bricks and mortar shore, with a planned opening of a saleroom in Los Angeles and expansion in China. Noting that Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti is fairly new on the job, he might not realize that the company did until a few years ago have a saleroom in Los Angeles- and closed it. And that the Chinese buyers were well and increasingly represented at sales at CSK.
It seems that generally the wisdom in institutional culture, if you can’t blame your predecessor for the present ills of a business, then attention from current problems can then be diverted by reorganization. Christie’s, we’ll say no more, at least not in this paragraph, but the granddaddy of all shelter publications Architectural Digest will now become AD. For those of us in the trade, it always has been ‘AD’ but it appears it wishes to let the reading public in on the inside. Sure. The fact is, the most recent books have been about as thin as a high school newspaper. There used to be issues that were awaited with bated breath- the AD 100 and Designer’s Own Homes issues were about as thick as a phone book. But, then, phone books where they even exist are pretty thin now, too. Unfortunately, AD, as with every other shelter publication, is finding itself running wildly to catch what it perceives as its target market, a younger urban type whose idea of good design is a roomful of furniture purchased in one fell swoop from a big box store and then delivered in a flat pack. It might be worth pointing out that these selfsame flat pack stores produce catalogs that contain content that looks suspiciously like the content in the major shelters, and the catalogs are free for the taking.