Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Archive for the ‘Vintage dealers’ Category

Chandigarh: The Auctioneer Replies

leave a comment »

Chandigarh’s treasures keep selling well. Several went several times above their estimate at the last Wright auction on 31 March (hammer price of $88,900 for the Pierre Jeanneret sofa below). Answering to the attempts by the government of India to have the items removed from the auction, and the controversy surrounding their sale, Wright has put a statement on their website.

The note is quite informative. According to Wright, and this is not really a surprise, the government of India just a few years back left the furniture decaying and sold it at local auctions. French dealers (we think Eric Touchaleaume is one of them) bought some of the furniture back and restored it. Wright also claim the moral high ground – a more dubious argument in our view – when arguing India did not take steps to recognize the furniture as art treasures, while collectors and auction houses actually support their preservation. The note does not say if there have been attempts by India to buy the furniture back at a fair price that would cover the costs incurred by those who salvaged the furniture.

The good faith of dealers does not seem in doubt, and the sellers may have the law on their side. You could argue the same of the Elgin marbles too, but is not the rightful place of the Jeanneret furniture in India rather than in the home of a billionaire?

Advertisements

Written by Alvar and I

April 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

From our 50’s couch – McDonald edition

leave a comment »

A collector’s dream: the immodestly titled Mark McDonald sale at Sotheby’s on 10 March, already featured on the ever interesting MONDOBLOGOThe North Elevation and Mid-Century Modern Interiors. Really great and instructive to see the beautiful pieces assembled  by a collector ahead of his time. Particularly nice to find a couple Nana Ditzel piece too, including this beautiful modular seating system below: pretty stiff competition for our very own 50’s couch!

Check also the Aalto Chair No. 31, a favorite around this blog. The estimate is pretty low: something wrong with it?

Let’s dream a bit of future blog posts written on this delightful desk by Charlotte Perriand. A similar table was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2004 for $7,200.

Finally check out the Anatomy of a Sale videos about the McDonald auction.

Written by Alvar and I

March 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Way out of our league

leave a comment »

Well, we cannot really complain about fetichism here, but we can still spot a speculative bubble when we see one. Astronomical prices for mid-century furniture is nothing new for the likes of Prouvé, Perriand, Ponti and Molino, but every time we look they seem to increase. Cue the sales from the recent Design Miami in the margins of the Art Basel Fair.

Among mostly contemporary “Furnitart” on sale at very very high prices (Bouroulec at $40,000 a piece any one?), several well heeled mid-century specialists were present: Sebastian and Barquet, Jousse Entreprises, Gallerie Seguin and R 20th Century among them. Guess this was an inspired move for them!

Galerie Jousse Entreprise

the Mexican bookcase by Perriand and Prouvé went for €130,000 to a Russian collector. It’s not only football teams…

Secret Habit

Galerie Seguin

Jean Royère “Ours Polaire” Sofa and armchairs,1949, sold for $800,000…

the “Croisillon” bed (at the back): yours for a mere $125,000

DESIGN MIAMI, 2010

R Gallery

Joaquim Tenreiro table – € 300,000

(and it’s even not Jacaranda…)

I guess that we are a bit jealous. More on Design Miami here and The Art Newspaper.

Virtual Exhibits

leave a comment »

We just discovered these great virtual exhibit visits from Jacksons’ Berlin antenna. Wish that they will add to the collection very soon.

If you have the occasion to visit Stockholm or Berlin pay a visit to their gallery. We have yet to visit the Berlin one – it had just opened the last time we had the pleasure to visit them on Sibyllegatan. Great space.

Bruno Mathsson Exhibition

Finn Juhl Exhibition

Finnish Design Exhibtion

Written by Alvar and I

January 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Modern Britannia

leave a comment »

Old Blimey is not usually where vintage design hunters would set their sights in their quest for the finest pieces, rather going for France, Italy or the Nordic countries. This would be missing important early modernists and excellent 50s furniture. Also, the UK was an important market for modernist furniture, being for instance the first export market for Aalto furniture (distributed by Finmar Ltd) and there is nice vintage from other designers as well.

Gerald Summers and the beautifully named Makers of Simple Furniture is said to be the most innovative UK designer of the 1930s. This claim is easily supported by his armchair (1933-1934) a masterpiece of modernism. Uniquely, for the time,  the chair was manufactured of a single sheet of plywood following an ingenious design. This solution was motivated by the intended use of the chair in tropical climates where metal joinery would not have resisted humidity. Unfortunately Makers of Simple Furniture was active for only 11 years from 1929 to 1939 when it had to shut down because of restrictions on the importation plywood. Summers never really went back to design. Only 120 armchairs were produced.

Gerald Summers- Armchair – Makers of Simple Furniture

Isokon was founded on the same year as Makers of Simple Furniture and ceased its activities in 1939 for the exact same reason. We are very found of the idea that Isokon was founded by a bacteriologist, a sollicitor and economist! Isokon was closely associated with the Bauhaus, and harbored German designers fleeing the Nazi regime. Walter Gropius was controller of design there between 1934 and 1937. He recommended Marcel Breuer whose most striking design is his armchair, a translation of an earlier metal design for Wohnbedarf in Switzerland. Another iconic design is the Penguin Donkey by Jack Pritchard and Egon Riss. Jack Pritchard was managing the company and went on to relaunch Isokon in 1963 and work with Ernest Race (more on him below). The company was relaunched a third time in 1999 under the brand name of Isokonplus.

Marcel Breuer- Chaise Longue- Isokon

Jump forward to 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, where two major names of British design, Ernest Race and Robin Day came to the fore. The Springbok chair by Ernest Race was picked for the Festival’s cafe. This design is now slightly forgotten for the more famous Antelope and Unicorn chairs.

Ernest Race – Unicorn chair- Race Furniture Ltd

Bukowskis-Unicorn chair

Robin Day was commissioned at the Festival of Britain to design the Royal Festival Hall seats. The Royal Festival Armchair is a particular favorite. He and his wife Lucienne, a textile designer, went on to become the much loved British equivalent of Charles and Ray Eames and embody British modernism. Lucienne Day sadly passed away last month. Robin Day established a successful collaboration with the furniture maker Hille. The Polyprop and Polo chairs they produced together were huge successes.

Robin Day- Armchair for the Royal Festival Hall

The 1950s and 1960s saw several good designers and editors producing modernist furniture, inspired by Scandinavian and names like Ercol, Heritage, Archie Shine, G Plan, Merrow Associates and Stag are coming back into fashion. Here is a good BBC Homes and Antiques article and links to good UK dealers of these design. Hurry while they are still affordable: prices are rising fast and new pieces constantly appear on the market. You can also  pay a visit to Concrete Box and Mark Parrish who offer a very good selection of British vintage designs.

Vintage in London

leave a comment »

London has quite a few more good vintage shops than the ones around Shoreditch mentioned in this recent New York Times Style blog post. What is interesting in the London vintage furniture scene is that it seens relatively less mature than in other European cities like Paris, Copenhagen or Stockholm. Sure, prices tended to be inflated until recently by the high value of the pound, but that it has gone done a bit, there are good deals to be had and good dealers to buy from.

But let us come to the main reason of this post. We were happy to see an old haunt of ours being mentioned. Two Columbia Road is where we once found this very distinctive Wegner bed for Getama. Note the unusual combination of teak, cane, vinyl and glass.

Written by Alvar and I

March 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Window(s) shopping

leave a comment »

We were about to open a new category on vintage dealers until we saw Shop Talk on 1stdibs.com from their artfully made IntroSPECTIVE online magazine (don’t be put off by the rather messy home page, the magazine features are much better). It seems though that the magazine only showcases dealers that are working with 1stbids.com.

The features on Espasso (above), NOHO Modern, Marc McDonald, Sebastian+Barquet, and J.F. Chen are recommended.

Written by Alvar and I

February 8, 2010 at 3:31 am

Posted in Vintage dealers

Tagged with ,