Launched out of dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn’s East 94th Street brownstone in 2003, Salon 94 has since gone on to take the global art world by storm. With locations throughout Manhattan and spots at major international fairs, the blue-chip platform represents seminal artists like Judy Chicago, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Derick Adams, as well as the estates of interdisciplinary mavericks Carlo Mollino and Donald Judd, among others. Over the past few years, this impressive roster has been supplemented by a dynamic collectible design program. Salon 94 Design takes an almost patronlike approach to commissioning, producing, and selling unique works by talents ranging from Kwangho Lee and Philippe Malouin to Tom Sachs and Gaetano Pesce. At the helm of the enterprise is Trang Tran, a design historian whose interest in Radical Italian architecture brought her into the Salon 94 fold just over two years ago. On the occasion of opening the gallery’s new Rafael Viñoly–converted, 17,500-square-foot East 89th Street flagship—the former National Academy of Design Museum complex—AN Interior market editor Adrian Madlener spoke to the director about this ever-growing venture.
AN Interior: Talk a bit about your background and how you got involved with Salon 94.
Trang Tran: Though both of my parents are tailors—I was exposed to a lot of textile craft growing up—I realized early on that I wasn’t a maker. Later I realized that there were a lot of other people [who are] interested in exploring design and architecture without actually wanting to practice. So I studied architectural history at the University of Toronto and then I worked at the Textile Museum of Canada, where I became drawn to the decorative arts. From there I went to the Parsons/Cooper Hewitt History of Design and Curatorial Studies program for grad school. On entering the school, I realized that I wanted to focus more on contemporary topics and took a lot of courses outside the program, including one with Paul Goldberger on architectural criticism. I also enrolled in intensives taught by [curator] Glenn Adamson, who also became my thesis adviser. I wrote about the Radical period in Italian architecture and the concept of utopias, which led me to Gaetano Pesce’s work and, in turn, Salon 94. It’s funny, Glenn and I still work together as he’s currently writing a book on Pesce for us. The worlds of academia and design really do intertwine, especially in New York. A lot of graduates that come out of the [Parsons] program are hoping to find museum jobs, and working in a gallery seems like the opposite, but in many ways, it can also satisfy those ambitions.