MINISTRY OF IDEAS: MEET MICHAEL PAPADEAS, GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS, FRIEZE
Michael Papadeas leads partnerships for Frieze, a contemporary art and culture platform with five international art fairs and publishers of frieze magazine since 2001. He works closely with some of the world’s leading luxury brands to create relevant and authentic initiatives within the contemporary art world, from American Express to Samsung, Saks Fifth Avenue, and LVMH. Prior to Frieze, Michael worked in luxury resort and real estate development, hospitality, and most things in between – including positions at Social Media Week, Food & Wine magazine, and several experiential marketing agencies. A lifelong New Yorker, Michael gets his kicks from creating meaningful brand experiences.
How would you define ‘contemporary culture’ at the moment?
TL;DR: Hip-hop culture is the incubator for 21st-century trends, from music to the proliferation of ‘sneaker culture’.
I think it’s sort of a coming together of those who’ve traditionally been on the fringes. There’s no doubt that hip-hop culture has fully infiltrated, changed, rearranged, and reinvented so many aspects of contemporary culture. I was lucky enough to grow up in New York in the ’80s and ’90s – I have witnessed the inception and, now, the ascension of hip-hop culture to the pinnacles of fashion, music, and art, which also happen to be some of the most important pillars of contemporary culture. Look at all of the current trends: they are usually born out of hip-hop culture and, more broadly, African-American culture.
Don’t think so? Just look around your office – and even your fancy events – and you’ll notice an incredible uptick in those wearing sneakers. You can thank hip-hop. What I really enjoy about contemporary culture (but also fear) is the proliferation of high-end living – and not just for the establishment. We all get to reap the benefits of brands who keep trying to outdo each other with more services, experiences, quality, personalisation, benefits etc. – all things that are saved for the rich. The fear, of course, is that it’s probably unsustainable. But the cream will always rise to the top, and those in the know will be sure to protect the best parts.
Lastly, I think America is going through an incredible identity crisis and realisation – this is creating so many new and interesting developments within contemporary culture. It’s probably time for some sort of revolution and also time to move on from trying to follow the Millennials. Substance will hopefully win out in the end.
Is there a particular brand living up to this definition – if yes, how?
TL;DR: One word: Gucci.
Oh boy, I should have read this question before hopping up on that soapbox for question one. Gucci is killing it. Nobody is doing it better across the board. They keep gaining traction with each and every generation. If you throw a rock at Frieze, you will undoubtedly hit someone in Gucci (please don’t throw rocks at art fairs – unless you’re an artist, of course!). I always like to give props to Red Bull, too, which may sound crazy, but just think how they’ve fully infiltrated so many niches – they’ve set the bar and have also helped to create the modern ‘marketing mix’ model.
Personally, why do you travel?
TL;DR: Seizing pockets of free time for travel can be as rewarding as a big blowout vacation.
Usually it comes down to an escape, no matter how brief. New York City is a pressure cooker, so it’s always good to break away. As long as I’m with my stunningly supportive wife and kids, it’s a perfect trip. More specifically, I’m usually travelling for work and try as much as possible to bring my family along. I suppose it helps that I get to go to pretty cool places.
This seems like a trend among many of my peers, and now even executives are taking advantages of the small windows to get away. Americans work too much though, which forces these types of escapes; working for a British company has provided a very refreshing view of work-life balance, and it’s certainly something we should be adopting. I’m also a sucker for a cool city with great music, interesting food, and quality people.