Alone Together: Parachute Market

by Keely Shinners

Not your average design fair
What would it look like to be alone together? Would we sit down for coffee, go for a long drive? Would we look at each other and not look down at our cell phone screens? Could we be present with one another, detached (if only for an afternoon) from anxieties and self- absorptions? How would we make a space to dig underneath the superficial, to be authentic, deep, and loving with one another? I can imagine what it might feel like, but how would it look?

Something called a “design fair” might not be the place. Attached to the words “design fair” are imaginations of unapproachable old men in blue business suits, examining immaculately rendered office chairs that cost more than a summer’s worth of my rent. An elusive space. An exclusive space.

Walking into the Parachute Market, a biannual fair founded and curated by CNTRLgroup Collective, feels different. You still see the manicured aesthetics of contemporarily designed loveseats and coffee tables. But around them, designers and their families are hanging out, laughing, chatting with one another. A baby is trying to climb onto a leather ottoman; a gallerist is putting one-stem flowers in sun-soaked glass vases. Objects and installations by different designers and artists across Los Angeles meet in a cohesive whole (thanks to fantastic curation by Coryander Friend, Jessica Hundley, Tasya Van Ree, and Petecia Le Fawnhawk), transforming the potential emptiness of an L.A. Arts District warehouse into something like home. No piece in the market is rigid or lifeless. They say, “Sit down, have a drink, be here for a while.”

The Market is not only for the soulful and creative in the design world; Parachute trails into art and video installation. At the front of the space plays a micro-by Friend, in which people talk about how they want to throw their phones out the window and escape for a while, be in the world as it is. An art installation in the Market’s “lounge” contains a huge sandbox in the middle of the floor, asking you to take off your shoes and succumb to a gentle playfulness.

In addition to the design fair, Parachute Market’s “Market” does not feel like the bourgeois, gimmicky installments of other “creativity” fairs. It is clear that each booth is there for a purpose, whether it’s made-for- women surfwear, small business jewelry makers from Mexico, or a personal, sit-down- with-me- on-my- shag-carpet tarot reading. People aren’t looking at you like, “Please buy my product.” Instead, they reach out and say, “Come get a mezcal with me. Let’s chat. Let’s be together.”

Parachute market asks, by condition of its title, “What would it look like to be alone together?” The creative people involved answer the question through a kaleidoscopic array of objects and imagery, but they all say the same thing. Don’t just look. Be. Be here and present in this moment. And please, feel free to stay, at least for a little while.