Collectible design will take center stage at Trustees’ Garden when Unique Design X Savannah returns to the Kehoe Ironworks Building, located at 660 E. Broughton St., from Wednesday, April 27 through Sunday, May 1.
Known for featuring innovative work by a wide range of international artists, architects and creators who make collectible design, Unique Design X has hosted successful collectible design shows in Shanghai, Paris, Moscow and Miami in recent years.
In April 2021, Unique Design X Group debuted its inaugural U.S. event in Savannah, delighting attendees with genre-expanding, thought-provoking work that encouraged viewers to reconsider new ways to inhabit spaces alongside functional art and contemporary design.
This year, Unique Design X Savannah will offer three complementary experiences at Trustees’ Garden:
Unique Design X Group’s curated collectible design show, A NEW SPACE AGE, will be based in the Kehoe Ironworks Building and will feature multidisciplinary work by 19 artists, architects and designers from 14 countries and 8 representative galleries.
The Skate-able Object Park designed by British Nigerian artist Yinka Ilori will honor Unique Design X Group’s annual commitment to working with a talented artist or designer to create a modular skate park that will host activities designed to engage with the local community. This initiative is created in partnership with Tony Hawk’s Skatepark Project, a nonprofit organization that helps make skateboarding more accessible for youth in underserved communities.
LIVE STREAMING EVENTS & ACTIVATIONS
On Saturday, April 30, the Unique Design X livestreaming forum will be co-produced in collaboration with The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Special in-person and online panel discussions will focus on African design, Latin American design and collectible design.
Morgan Morris, the founder and CEO of Unique Design X Group, recently spoke with Connect Savannah about the allure of collectible design and the power of community.
How do you define collectible design? What does it mean to you?
The realm of collectible design or “functional art” sits at the intersection of different fields of creative practice. Architects, fashion designers, artists as well as product or industrial designers have all been known to create collectible design works. The beauty of the realm of collectible design is that there are no predefined norms, and creators can make savvy use of the crossovers within the practice of collectible design to innovate new concepts and push the predetermined boundaries of creativity to new horizons.
Who is your primary audience?
Our audience has a very wide demographic that is inclusive, rather than exclusive, which the art world may at times be. Unique Design X Group is dedicated to promoting crossovers between functional art, collectible design and skating with a special focus on the X,Y, Z and millennial generations, so our outreach is to both the local and international community of art, design, architecture and general culture enthusiasts who understand how the combination of these elements can uplift communities.
You hosted a fantastic event at Trustees’ Garden in 2021. What’s new and different at Unique Design X Savannah this year?
We’re thrilled to have so many wonderful galleries and creators coming to Savannah for the first time. We’re also excited to announce two special focus sections this year: one on African contemporary collectible design, curated by Jomo Tariku and myself, and the other on the fantastic emerging collectible design scene in Latin and South America.
Does the “X” in “Unique Design X” signify anything in particular?
Unique Design X Group is a nomadic platform built on the notion of communities built around creativity emerging from different cultures, different backgrounds, creative sectors and places, so the “X” is a very important symbol of building collaborations, crossovers and fueling innovation through connecting different groups. It’s a very meaningful symbol for us.
What is your connection to Savannah?
I was born in Savannah and grew up here. Even though I have traveled to faraway places to live and work, every time I come home to Savannah and see the Spanish moss making a welcome tunnel, I realize how fortunate I am to have been born in such an incredible, magical place.
Why did you decide to include a skate park element?
In order to develop our outreach within the local community, we have developed a charitable arm in partnership with the Tony Hawk Foundation’s Skatepark Project organization and an outdoor iteration of our collectible design platform through The Skate-able Object Park. Each year, Unique Design X Group commissions an artist to design a skate-able object park as an artist-designed, professionally engineered and produced, limited-edition sculptural, dismountable skate-able obstacle course. The purpose of the charitable division of our platform is to expose underserved youth groups and charities to the creative collectible design sector. We firmly believe that the fusion of art, skate and design can uplift communities and encourage innovations and creativity through multicultural, diverse exchanges. We also want to build strong local links in each of the cities where our international nomadic platform alights.
What exactly does the collaboration with SCAD look like this year?
We’re very happy to have SCAD as our forum co-production partner for three sessions of panel discussions on April 30th. This the second consecutive year we have done the forum together, and they are such an amazing institution and resource here in Savannah. SCAD provides an incredible streaming platform, which allows us to connect and discuss with our creatives, both in person and remotely, as the creators from Unique Design X are in many different countries from around the world. We are honored to have senior SCAD faculty members bring their insight and expertise to these sessions.
How did the pandemic interrupt your plans?
We did not allow the pandemic to interrupt us and continued to forge ahead and to work on our creative concepts. Over the past two years–during the pandemic and in between lockdowns–we organized five shows in Shanghai, Paris, Moscow, Savannah and Miami. Now, we are very excited to launch our second edition at Trustees’ Garden, which was the first show we launched in the U.S. in April last year. We invite everyone in Savannah to join us and to learn more about collectible design.
Unique Design X Savannah will be open daily April 27 through May 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $20 for the general public and $10 for students and seniors. VIP tickets are also available. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Tony Hawk’s The Skatepark Project as well as Urban Hope and Greenbriar Children’s Center in Savannah. Learn more at uniquedesignxgroup.com