The venue for Masterpiece London is, in itself, exceptional. In the historic Royal Hospital Chelsea, the art fair presents notable collector’s items, including classical and contemporary works of art, antiques, jewellery, design and a great deal more. An interview with Managing Director Lucie Kitchener on cross-collecting and the plans for the further development of the fair, in which the MCH Group has a majority holding and which forms part of its "Global Events Strategy".
Lucie, we are happy to welcome you and Masterpiece London, another unique and extraordinary event, into our MCH Group. Please introduce yourself briefly.
Hello and thank you for the warm welcome I have received from everyone at MCH Group. I am Lucie Kitchener, Managing Director of Masterpiece London which as you know is the world’s first fair to specialise in “cross-collecting”. We have 150 galleries and specialists from the disciplines of Old Masters, antiquities, contemporary, jewellery, photography, ceramics, rare books and manuscripts, furniture and design. Masterpiece London was launched in 2010 and is held at the end of June each year in the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea, an historic site that has housed veteran soldiers since 1692 and whose architect was Christopher Wren. We have a wonderful team of ten people who are all as excited as I am about our plans to expand Masterpiece London into new geographies.
I joined Masterpiece London in January 2017, before which I was a brand consultant advising clients in the luxury goods sector. I started my career as a marketing graduate with Rank Hovis McDougall and Pepsi Co. and spent much of my career in marketing with United Biscuits (bought by Kraft) as Marketing Director. I then joined David Linley & Co., a furniture and design business and later I was with The Rug Company, in which I served as Sales and Marketing Director and Managing Director. It was at these two companies that I developed my interest in furniture, interiors and design. I live in London with my three children Ella, Ben and George.
Why did you decide to become part of MCH? What do you expect to come of this participation?
The team at Masterpiece London are proud of what they have created – a beautiful, successful cross-collecting fair which is a must-see event in London’s busiest summer social season. We are super focused on preempting, meeting and exceeding our exhibitors’ needs. We had 44,000 visitors in 2017 and very strong exhibitor retention and excellent sales resulting. So it was natural that we had begun to look beyond the UK and consider which other markets would be suitable for our exhibitors. How could we help them, and their businesses, grow? At this point we met with René Kamm from MCH and of course we all knew and admired Art Basel. We started to learn more about MCH and how it operates, and we really like the considered and considerate approach it makes in new markets and new sectors. MCH’s Global Collector Events Strategy seemed to reflect our thoughts for growth – so we started to develop plans with René Kamm and his team and here we are today announcing our exciting future together!
What sets Masterpiece London apart from other art shows and fairs, also the ones managed by MCH just as Art Basel and the Regional Art Fairs?
Masterpiece London is unique because it doesn’t focus on any one discipline, but on cross-collecting – we show a spectrum of works spanning 6,000 years of art history from the beginning of time to today. We are as strong in antiquities as we are decorative arts; as strong in 19th century art as Sevres porcelain; as strong in 18th century mirrors as modern curiosities. So, we are different to Art Basel which in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami shows the best of the best in contemporary art, and also different to MCH’s regional art fairs strategy as the Masterpiece brand will roll out to new countries with the unique Masterpiece “formula”. This means we at Masterpiece London are not cannibalizing MCH’s existing businesses, but adding to it.
At which additional locations is Masterpiece to be launched and when?
We are currently clarifying the additional future locations. We will only be able to make definitive statements on this, once arrangements have been made with the corresponding partners at these locations. But what I can say, is that we are very excited about the future and very grateful to everybody at MCH for sharing our vision for growth.
Masterpiece London 2018 will open its doors in summer. Would you be able to give us some sort of foretaste?
Masterpiece London has established itself as the world’s leading cross collecting fair and it is essential to us that we evolve each year and continue offer our exhibitors the strongest business platform. For next year’s fair we have been looking carefully at both the visitor and exhibitor experience and made some adjustments to the layout which include additional space and adjustments to the design of the centre of the fair to enhance flow throughout. Masterpiece offers visitors a unique cultural and social experience and as part of this we are also improving the restaurant offering and outdoor areas as well as our educational and museum programmes. As for exhibitors, our discussions are of course confidential but I am really pleased by progress to date and very excited for next year!
> MCH Group Global Collector Events
Photo credits: Lucie Kitchener © Gianluca De Girolamo; Exhibition © Chris Allerton, Andy Barnham courtesy Masterpiece London