Marine Hartogs

One of the best things about being a person in 2015 is accessibility of information: it is easy to know a little about a lot of things. But what about the opposite? It’s getting harder to choose just one thing to focus on. For Marine Hartogs, an International Specialist at Phillips auction house in London, daily work is built around a specific expertise in a topic few are knowledgeable about. Marine’s internationally-informed approach (she has experience in contemporary design, French Art Deco, French mid-century modern design, and all categories of Brazilian design) have led her through various curatorial roles and given her a compelling and inspiring perspective on objecthood, archival significance, and the definition of value. We visited her at Phillips to discuss it all.

Marine wears SAMARA SHIRT DRESS in white. 
 Where did you grow up? Can you share a bit more about how you got to where you are?
I grew up between London, Paris, and New York. My mother is French and my father is Brazilian, so growing up our house was always a mix of art and design that represented both cultures. My mother had a stand in Alfies Market, a large indoor market, offering antiques in London for about 10 years. I would often go after school and on weekends: it was chance for me to observe the patterns of the dealers and collectors as well as take note of the friendships that came from shared passion.
How does your expertise in such a specific area of design carry over to your own personal taste?
I look at objects differently…I am interested in their history and sustainability. With contemporary design I tend to be more critical, sometimes a work will look like an exact replica of something that has been done 50 – 60 years ago. So I suppose I look for originality and thoughtfulness. A piece cannot be merely decorative for me to appreciate it.
Are there any other areas of art or design you are interested in learning more about?
I would love to deepen my knowledge of the materials – learn how to throw clay, restore furniture, and do carpentry.

What pieces of furniture do you wish you owned?
Working in the Design department at Phillips means that I am constantly exposed to the most beautiful and rare pieces available on the market. Therefore in my last five years here there has never been a piece that I would not want to own, but here are a few that have stood out over the years: Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe ‘Tugendhat’ coffee table,  Charlotte Perriand, Bibliotheque, 1954.  Gio Ponti, Rare dressing table, 1935.  Lucie Rie, Rice bowl, 1978.  Jean Dunand, Unique triptych designed for Madame Agnes, 1926.
What objects have most inspired you throughout your career?
The Eileen Gray ‘Transat’ chair from the Manik Bagh Palace, 1930, which we sold in December 2014 for $1,538,500. Eileen Gray designed the “Transat” in 1925-1926 for her Villa E 1027 in Roquebrune, on the Côte d'Azur (which I recently had the chance of visiting). With an adjustable headrest and occasionally a sling seat, the chair was clearly informed by the simple functionalism of a deck chair, well-suited to her home that was itself intended to evoke a sense of living on a houseboat. The design marks Gray’s transition towards modernism which she embraced during the mid-1920s. The chair is a perfect expression of her individualist approach, in which thoughtfully considered materials, artistic form and engagement with human behaviors are considered in her adoption of basic modernist principals. French Art Deco, French mid-century modern design and all categories of Brazilian design, Charles Rennie Mackintosh & Shiro Kuramata. Arts & crafts meets minimalism.

What do you do after work? Can you share your evening routine with us — how your day breaks down from 6 until bedtime?
If I am not going to opening, I will typically go straight to yoga from work. After yoga I will either meet some friends for dinner, or go home make a simple dinner, read The New York Times, and go to bed!
Can you share the menu of a typical weeknight dinner?
Quinoa, sweet potato, kale, avocado. Ice cold cherries for the dessert in the summer!
What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?
Grace by Calvin Baker and Stoner by John Williams
What are your favorite spots in your neighborhood?
La Fromagerie, Monocle café, Dinnings (my favorite Japanese restaurant outside of Japan), and the Wallace collection.

What do you typically wear to work?
Oversized button down with black jeans or dresses and Martiniano shoes.
What’s the best thing you’ve done so far this year?
I’ve had the chance to visit the Spiral Jetty, an earthwork sculpture by Robert Smithson located on the Great Salt Lake. I was also able to see the Agnes Martin room at the Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico, and visit the Eileen Gray E-1027 modernist villa.
What motivates you?
I feel very lucky to be able to work in an environment where everyone is extremely passionate about what they do. I am also motivated by the pieces we sell that have been in private collections for decades and will shortly go back into a private collection. I am happy that I am able to spend time with them in between…

Photography by ROBIN STEIN | Interview by LEIGH PATTERSON