A New Salon-Style Hamptons Gallery Is Made for the COVID-19 Era Sélavy is perfectly adapted for the times

Jane Keltner de Valle, Architectural Digest, July 23, 2020

When COVID-19 struck, many a New Yorker fled to the Hamptons. Christina and Emmanuel Di Donna, the founders of blue-chip art gallery Di Donna, did more than that: They hatched a new business venture there. Sélavy, a shoppable salon of art and design that opens on Jobs Lane in Southampton this week, is what cofounder Christina describes as “an extension of our living room—mixing design furniture, which we have been collecting for a while, with paintings, works on paper, and sculpture.” It’s the opposite of a white-box gallery. “From a personal perspective,” says Emmanuel, “we found a lot of comfort living with our own collection during this time.” Beyond that, he continues, “We recognize that people don’t necessarily feel comfortable going into galleries right now.”

 

Sélavy is a glass-enclosed box through which everything can be viewed from the outside—a literal window into a well-lived life. (Interested parties can enter the space by-appointment.) The art and design is also fully accessible online. As Emmanuel notes, “We have utilized all of the useful technology we have refined and adapted to during COVID, such as online presentations and virtual viewing rooms, and created a platform where all information, images, details, and videos of the artwork will be easily available to view up close or purchase on our Sélavy website.” 

 

For the opening curation, the Di Donnas partnered with friends and former colleagues Fairfax Dorn and James Zemaitis to source particular pieces of design, from Surrealist to contemporary. “Beyond the rigor we apply to the selection of each object, we believe that art collecting should mix cultures and time periods,” says Emmanuel. “We want to show historical paintings surrounded by unique pieces of furniture, all celebrated for their beauty and intrinsic value. Having a Jean Arp bronze next to a Rogan Gregory table invites all sorts of dialogues. The curviness and sensuality of a Loie Hollowell painting next to the austerity of a Jean-Michel Frank alabaster lamp invites another discussion.” Adds Christina: “The works selected for each vignette are based entirely on our own aesthetic and how we personally would want to interact with them.” 

 

And consider it an ever-evolving arrangement. They plan to curate new exhibitions every six weeks, working with different collaborators from the world of design each time. “Sélavy is a hybrid: part living room, part art fair booth, part e-commerce,” says Christina. “Homes evolve over time. It takes years of trying things, changing pieces, and rotating interiors to find whatever harmony works for you. This will be the same at Sélavy.”