Meet the 28-year-olds shaking up London’s art market

Everything you need to know about Unit London and the most anticipated art event of the year

With zero funding and no knowledge of the somewhat stuffy world of art buying, Joe Kennedy and his business partner Jonny Burt have come a very long way. From their first pop up art show in Chiswick in 2013, via an intimate gallery on Soho’s Wardour Street, the two galleriests – both 28 – are now putting the finishing touches on a new, 6000 sq ft space in Hanover Square, just off Regent Street; “A stone’s throw from Sotheby’s” as Joe, co-founder of Unit London, explains to Gentleman’s Journal.

We spoke to Joe (pictured right) about the biggest, and most anticipated, art event in the capital this year…

What to expect

The new gallery is situated in the old Citibank Building, an impressive spot next to Vogue House. “When you walk in, it’s going to be very immersive,” says Joe. “The way it’s lit, it’s very dramatic, very experiential; it’s not a white cube space where you get a press release on the door.”

When is it ready?

The first show and the launch will take place in mid-June with Ryan Hewett – a South African abstract figurative painter who is fast building a collector market in the UK. “We want to celebrate and champion artists with amazing shows,” says Joe, “and there will be gallery staff ready to engage with, help and educate you.”

Meet the 28-year-olds shaking up London’s art market
3 Hanover Square, the site of Unit London's new gallery space

Why now?

According to Knight Frank’s recent Wealth Report, the average value of art sold at auction rose by 21% last year. For Joe and Unit London: “It’s the missing part of the puzzle to really scale the business, and to fulfil our ambition of being one of the leading galleries in London”

The big idea behind Unit London

“We’re bringing humanity back to the art world,” says Joe. “A lot of young and good mid-level seasoned collectors don’t want to be treated in an elitist way. They want a human experience, you don’t get that in other galleries – it’s too clinical, you feel like you’re treading on eggshells, it can be quite an awkward experience.”

The average value of art sold at auction rose by 21% last year

What to buy

No need to worry yourself with that. If you’ve little time to do your art homework, and worried you might invest in a duff, Joe has the answer. “We know today’s collectors are hard working, busy people, who don’t necessarily have the time to fully immerse themselves in the art world, which is why we have lots of experts on hand. There’s a need for instant gratification, wanting understand the market quicker, have a good experience, and not be lead down the garden path.”

What next?

“We’re using technology to our advantage,” says Joe. “Other galleries are struggling with the bricks and mortar model and going online only to reduce overheads, while we’re using digital channels to fund the physical space. Without that physical space art is pretty much irrelevant.”

Unit London, 3 Hanover Square, opens for a VIP view on Wednesday 13th June 2018. For more information head to theunitldn.com.

Further Reading