With this year’s Frieze London just over the horizon, Deputy Director of Frieze Fairs Kristell Chadé welcomed us to the east London office. Enjoying one of the last days of summer, we talked taking chances, embracing surprise and the soothing qualities of trashy TV.
What are you working on at the moment?
Well, we have two fairs coming up this month… So definitely working on that!
One of the most exciting parts of my job is seeing the fair come together. When galleries start telling you which presentations they have in mind, you get a sense of what the fair is going to look like, but whatever you imagine, when you arrive and see the galleries setting up, it still surprises you.
I’ve been here for 5 years and I’ve never had a fair that looked like a previous one. With the timelines overlapping, they inspire each other, and you learn lessons from every edition, but equally, every fair is different.
You always think, ‘I’ve seen everything now’, but you haven’t.
Did you always know you wanted to work in the arts?
Yes, as far back as I can remember. It’s difficult to know exactly what you want to do when you’re young, but I knew I wanted to work in the arts, and there are so many options within the art world. What you do depends so much on the opportunities that arise, which lead you in a particular direction, and for me, that direction has been art fairs.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Yoga gets me out of bed. I try to go four times a week, which is sometimes hard because I travel frequently, but it’s a really good way to have a balanced mind and body. I go before work – there’s a yoga studio round the corner from my house, which is round the corner from the office – so it works out quite well. It’s a soft way to wake up, especially for someone who likes to sleep as much as I do.
What’s your wardrobe strategy?
I don’t know if I can call it a strategy, but I wear dresses and skirts most of the time. I find them really easy to wear, and I accessorise differently depending on the context. I mostly wear ‘non-colours’, like black, white and grey. I just feel more comfortable, and like I can’t go wrong, whatever the situation I end up in.
What does a typical day look like?
There’s no such thing as a typical day here.. And that’s why I love my job. It can be a day in the London office, where we’ll discuss strategy and I’ll catch up with different teams; it can be a day in Berlin, visiting galleries; or a day on-site, in safety shoes and high-vis jackets, that’ll be happening soon. It’s so varied, one day never looks like the next.
What’s your side hustle?
It’s more of a hobby, but I would say travelling. I travel a lot for work, but if I’m not travelling for work, I’m travelling for pleasure. Knowing that I have something planned in the near future keeps me going, I find it very fulfilling.
You learn a lot from travelling, meeting new people and seeing new places.
What would you fallback career be?
Architecture. I’ve always been interested in architecture, and it is something I considered before, when I was at the point when I had to choose a path. I find the idea of building something that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional fascinating.
What’s the trashiest thing you love?
Oh my god, Made in Chelsea is my guilty pleasure. It’s a really nice way to switch off. I’ve seen every episode since season one, I’m a bit ashamed to say. You know they’re in Ibiza at the moment?
What are you reading?
Jane Austen’s, Sense and Sensibility. As I speak English all the time, I read in French. I like to have a bubble of French somewhere, and I read things that are related to my mood. Now I’m back in London after a couple of weeks away, I wanted to read something that takes place in a cottage, deep in the English countryside of the 18th Century. A respectable choice after Made In Chelsea…
What is your rescue snack of choice?
Almonds. Apparently they aren't as healthy as we think, but you can put them in your pocket, you can find them anywhere and they are actually quite filling. I could also say cherry tomatoes, but that doesn’t work as well, because it’s messier.
Where is your happy place?
By the sea, on a beach or on a boat, and if possible with a lot of sun.
How’s your work life balance?
Work takes up a lot of space in my life but that’s always going to happen if you like what you’re doing, so I think it’s a good thing, it just means I love what I do. I definitely find time to disconnect completely, it’s not easy but I've learnt to do it as a way to cope with quite intense working periods. I make time for friends and family, it’s essential and a nice way to keep that balance.
Where’s your favourite art spot?
In London, it would be the Barbican. They always have amazing shows on, as well as movies, concerts and talks. The architecture is incredible, and it’s a really complete space, in terms of being an arts centre.
What inspired you to join Marguerite?
I think it’s an amazing concept, being able to meet women from such different backgrounds and experiences is really interesting. And Joanna’s achieved something really amazing with it, you feel like you’re in a very safe place when you’re at a Marguerite event, which I like and is not always the case.
Where do you hang out at the weekend?
Mostly in east London. I live here, but it takes on a completely different energy at the weekend, it’s almost a different place. There are so many galleries, coffee shops, parks and markets.
I travel so much during the week it’s nice to stay in my neighbourhood and enjoy small, simple things.
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
Tilda Swinton, Sofia Coppola… And I imagine they know each other… an artist, Camille Henrot, she would add the French touch, Michelle Obama, and Beyonce.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Cooking. I come from a family of really good cooks, so I’m probably the shame of generations of women... I can cook an omelette or pasta of course, but I would like to know how to cook really nice food. I could learn, although there’s part of it that I think is being gifted, which I don’t have.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think moving to London from Paris five years ago, knowing barely anyone, without a job and without a flat. It was kind of a bet, and I’m happy with what it’s become.
London’s not the easiest city, and I did question whether it was the right decision, but looking at where my life is now, it makes me really proud.
Frieze London and Frieze Masters, that’s definitely the main event in my life coming up. And then, holidays! I’m going to Japan in November.
Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2017 take place between 5 - 8 October. For tickets see frieze.com/tickets