When Prospect NY founder Laura Currie and managing partner Danielle Mayer were working with artist Judy Chicago on a set of dinner plates made to resemble those from her famed work The Dinner Party, they knew it was a career milestone. They also knew they had to get every aspect, from the colors on the plates to the inserts in the packaging, exactly right. Currie hadn’t been happy with the third-party distribution company they’d previously been working with, so she took matters into her own hands, transforming her family’s home in Erie, Pennsylvania into a makeshift warehouse where she and Mayer hand-packed every shipment.
“I wanted to see everything before it went out,” Currie explains. “I responded to every single customer—because I think that’s what’s important and what will differentiate us from other businesses doing similar things.”
While Prospect is far from the first company to sell artist-designed products, Currie’s hands-on approach has been likened to that of a gallery—advising artists through every step, from conceptualization to distribution.
“Working with Laura was—and is—invigorating,” Chicago says, adding that she plans to collaborate with Prospect again in conjunction with her upcoming survey at ICA Miami. “My new collection with Prospect allows me to realize the original project at a scale that one installation could never accomplish on its own.”
Prospect started through a collaboration with Baron Von Fancy, aka Gordon Stevenson, the multimedia artist known for emblazoning witticisms like “Mercury was in fucking retrograde” on everything from sneakers to plates to lighters. When Currie met him in 2015, she had already graduated from business school at Georgetown and was fresh off a stint at Bettina Prentice’s eponymous cultural communications firm. Currie worked with Stevenson on licensing for a series of “Babe” t-shirts that, she recalls, “people went crazy over.” The pair teamed up on a set of embroidered pillows soon after.
It was this project that made Currie realize that the demand, from both artists and consumers, for a company that facilitates accessible, artist-designed products was just as high as that for traditional gallery models. Prospect was officially incorporated in 2016 and collaborations with Chicago and Nir Hod quickly followed. This June brings a beach-themed collection by Enoc Perez, complete with packs of vintage swizzle sticks that pay homage to Perez’s use of them in his work. In September, Rachel Libeskind will release jumbo candles, acrylic puzzles and a series of sterling silver items; in December, Misha Kahn will finalize a collection that includes brass bottle openers and sculptural pool floats.
“Everyone should be able to access, enjoy and be inspired by art,” Currie says, noting that most of the products sold by Prospect fall in the $50–400 range. “Art is something so powerful. It can take something that’s so negative and turn it into something really positive.”