PAUL JOHNSON ON RELIGION, RISKS AND THE RULES OF DESIGNby PIN–UP
If the world of collectible design was a body, Paul Johnson would be its nose. The Canadian-born Gemini has a rare gift for sniffing out talent, having been instrumental in jumpstarting the careers of many contemporary design artists, including Thomas Barger, Kwangho Lee, Dozie Kanu, Philippe Malouin, Jay Sae Jung Oh, Chris Schanck, and Katie Stout to name just a few. Through Johnson Trading Gallery, which he founded in New York in 2000, Johnson cultivated and redefined the key players of the conversation around collectibles, which shifted again when he partnered with Salon 94, helping build the mega-gallery’s design division. But impromptu career moves are also part of Johnson’s repertoire, so not everyone was surprised when he removed himself from the scene in 2019 to work as the de facto producer for the artist formerly known as Kanye West. After this whirlwind excursion into the world of entertainment, the 48-year-old is making space for design again. Except this time, it’s not simply domestic objects he’s after — Johnson is now asking artists to rewrite the rules of design.