Posts Tagged ‘Arne Jacobsen’

Design | Sitting on top of the 20th Century

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888 > 1964)
Steltman chairs, pair, designed 1963
he second is a mirror image of the above)
Stained oak.
Estimate $80,000 > 120,000

Design Masterworks
Rockefeller Plaza
New York City | USA
Exhibition 12 > 16 December 2015
Auction 17 December 2015

Marc Newson (1963 >)
Lockheed Lounge, designed 1990
Fibreglass-reinforced polyester resin core,
blind-riveted sheet aluminium,
rubber-coated polyester resin.
Estimate $1,500,000 – 2,000,000

Looks can be deceiving. Amongst the rare and much sought-after items in Christie’s forthcoming Design Masterworks sale, a pair of Steltman chairs, for instance, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1963 – placing their production firmly in the mid-century period – are rooted in the far more remote early modernist years, while hints of the 1960s’ brutalist architectural style are also easily detected in the form.

Superficially, with its Sputnik aesthetic, Marc Newson’s three-legged Lockheed Lounge, with a blind-riveted sheet aluminium finish, also reminiscent of post-war airliners, produced as a limited edition of ten, in 1990, toward the end of the twentieth century, might well have been designed when Arne Jacobsen was sketching out his Drop chair for his SAS Radisson Blue Hotel in the late 1950s. (Incidentally, recently relaunched by Fritz Hansen, the Drop is now available with a plastic shell in a selection of colours with matching powder-coated legs.)

Arne Jacobsen (1902 > 1971)
Drop chair, designed c 1958
Copper-plated steel, leather
Estimate $20,000 > 30,000

Hans Wenger (1914 > 2007)
Easy chair, designed 1953
Oak, leather, fabric upholstery
$30,000 > 50,000

The spindly legs, of course, are always a dead giveaway, but, paradoxically, the upholstered full, rounded back and chunky armrests of Hans Wenger’s Easy chair, 1953, are strongly suggestive of the art deco period that spawned Jean Prouve’s Sanatorium armchair, whose tapered seat shape and slimmer armrests in turn foreshadow the lightness of form that would appear in late 1940s and 1950s furniture design, made possible through the use of new materials and improved production techniques brought about by advances in technology.

Jean Prouvé (1901 > 1984)
Sanatorium armchair, c 1932
Painted metal, leather, stretched canvas
Estimate $140,000 > 180,000

Although more chair designs, notably by Gio Ponti and Finn Juhl are included, Design Masterworks at Christie’s isn’t confined to seating. The tightly-edited series of lots, each with impeccable provenance and stand-alone individuality, flying in the face of chronological categorisation, features a striking c 1930 wall light from the palace of the Maharaje of Indore made by Max Krüger, Flavio Poli’s Valva siderale internally-decorated glass vase, 1954, and Carlo Mollino’s anthropomorphic maple, tempered glass and brass An Occasional Table made around 1950.

All images courtesy and © Christie’s

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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that we think might interest you.

The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Auction | Architect-Built Furniture

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Ettore Sottsass
Bookcase, 1994

Plastic-laminated wood.
Produced by Galerie
Mourmans, the Netherlands.
Estimate £6,000 > 8,000

The Architect
Exhibition 23rd > 29th April 2014
Sale 29th April 2014
London | UK

Some 400 works designed by an august pantheon of international architects – among them, Michael Thonet, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Eliel Saarinen, Gerrit Rietveld, Poul Henningsen, Arne Jacobsen, Gio Ponti, Oscar Niemeyer, I M Pei, Buckminster Fuller, Ettore Sottsass, Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid and Shiguru Ban – encompassing items from the mid-19th century up to the 21st, will be auctioned next week in London.

For this inaugural event, uncompromisingly entitled The Architect, the auction house Phillips chose architect Lee F Mindel FAIA, of the New York-based multi-award-winning Sheldon, Mindel & Associates Inc, as curator. SM&A, who, since establishing their company in 1978, have designed numerous lofts and private homes – including one for musician Sting and his actress/producer wife Trudie Styler – were also responsible for the interior of the gallery/sales office for Herzog & deMeuron’s prestigious 56 Leonard Street development of luxury condominiums. The company have designed furniture and lighting as well as interiors for ocean liners and at least one Gulf Stream jet. They believe that ‘Simplicity is the most complicated thing to pursue, but when all elements synthesise, they transcend mere enclosure and become an art form.’ The latter is a quote from the magazine Architectural Digest, which has recognised SM&A as one of the top 100 design firms of the last century. On Phillips’ website Mindel himself quotes American architect Louis Kahn as having said: ‘Design is not making beauty. Beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.’ But, enough of this high-minded proselytising and sentimental stuff – so clearly intended for the unconverted. Let’s take a look at a selection of the inspiring array of objects on offer, which, hopefully, speak for themselves.

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
Maquette, for the ‘Danish’ chair,
circa 1950>1956
Estimate £4,000 > 5,000

Oscar Niemeyer
Pair of ‘Aran’ lounge chairs,
circa 1975
Leather, stainless steel.
Made by Aran Line, Italy.
Estimate £15,000 > 20,000

Arne Jakobsen
Designed for the American
Scandinavian Foundation,
New York, 1952

Leather, chromium-plated
steel, ebony, painted wood.
Made by cabinetmakers
Rud Rasmussen A/S, Denmark.
Estimate £40,000 > 60,000

I M Pei
Double-sided clock, from
the John Hancock Building,
Boston, circa 1976
Steel, acrylic
Estimate £6,000 > 8,000

Zaha Hadid
Ordrupgaard bench,
model no PP995
for the Ordrupgaard
Museum extension,
Charlottenlund, Denmark,
circa 2006.
Ash. Produced by
PP Mobler,
Estimate £35,000 > 45,000

All images courtesy of Phillips

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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Design & Architecture | George Nakashima

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Important 20th Century Design
Sotheby’s, New York, USA. 13th June, 2012
Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design
Christie’s, New York, USA. 14th June, 2012
20th/21st Century Design Auction
Rago, New Jersey, USA. June 16th & 17th, 2012

Previews for all the above start 9th June

Rather oddly, because designers and architects in the UK are pretty well-informed about modernism and modernists in general, the name George Nakashima, rarely comes up. Indeed, London’s Design Museum design library has no listing for him. A search on the website of the Royal Institute of British Architects, which is far from the parochial organisation its name might suggest, bore no fruit, however, the Victoria & Albert Museum has a single, fine, though rather modest, 1956 Nakashima chair in its collection.

A rare aluminium chair – one of only four ever produced – is the centre-piece of an historic collection of seven items of furniture designed by Gerrit Rietveld, going under the hammer at Sotheby’s, New York. Also in this relatively small sale, comprising just 68 lots, is an equally rare Tiffany Studios Dragonfly table lamp, along with interior stained glass windows by Frank Lloyd Wright, a Josef Hoffman bentwood Sitzmaschine, an Archibald Knox ‘Tudric’ pewter champagne bucket, a Fish lamp designed by Frank Gehry in 1983, and 13 separate lots – some comprising single pieces – all by George Nakashima.

Four Nakashima items appear amongst a total of 134 lots on the listing for Christie’s Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design sale, the next day.

Just a few days later, across the Hudson River and dwarfing the Sotheby’s and Christie’s sales, New Jersey auction house Rago, in a 2 -day, weekend sale, is offering a total of 1,100 lots. Sunday, the second day is all about modern furniture and lighting with items from a long list of iconic names, among many others: Arne Jacobsen, Charles & Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Frank Gehry, George Nelson, Gio Ponti, Hans Wegner, Isamu Noguchi, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Poul Kjaerholm, Shiro Kuramata, Wendell Castle and once again, George Nakashima, who is represented by 31 separate lots.

Assuming you are in funds – these would have to be plentiful, average lot prices range from around $6,000 to around $200,000 – with the possibility of acquiring a total of 48 lots of Nakashima items, should you be thinking about starting your own collection of his furniture, now’s your chance!

On the other hand you might ask: who is George Nakashima (1905-1990)? He is simply a very interesting and important figure in 20th design. On a farmlike compound near New Hope, Pennsylvania, Nakashima, his family, and fellow wood-workers created exquisite furniture from richly grained, rare timber: tables, desks, chairs, and cabinets to grace the homes and executive boardrooms of the likes of the late Nelson Rockefeller, Columbia University and the International Paper Corporation.

Born in the shadow of the USA’s Mount Olympus, in Spokane, Washington State, across the Puget Sound from Seattle, Japanese-American Nakashima grew up in the forests of the remote Olympic Peninsula – largely unmapped until 1900. After studying first forestry then architecture in Washington, in 1930 he received a Master’s from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, in 1928, he had won the Prix Fontainebleau from L’Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts in France and, after a brief time working as a mural painter on Long Island, decided to spend time in Paris before launching himself on a journey that took him to Japan. In Tokyo he found work with Czech-born Antonin Raymond, who had set up an office there. Raymond had emigrated to the United States in 1916, where he had assisted Frank Lloyd-Wright. His buildings in Japan reveal that his understanding of and respect for Japanese tradition informed his modernist sensibility. Raymond, was to prove a strong influence on his young assistant, Nakashima, as was Sri Aurobindo, the philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet, who he would encounter in Pondicherry, India, where George was the onsite architect for the first reinforced concrete building in the country. When war broke out Nakashima returned to the States, where he and his family were incarcerated at Minidoka, Idaho. He was released in 1943 with the help of his former employer Raymond and for a period worked on his ranch.

In India Nakashima had begun to find ways of working with wood and with his new-found philosophy developed ‘…a devotion to discovering the inherent beauty of wood so that noble trees might have a second life as furniture’. While in the internment camp he learned woodworking from a Japanese carpenter and left with the firm intention of establishing a woodworking studio, which he soon after accomplished at New Hope, Pennsylvania. The studio went on to become a huge success, employing some of the world’s finest craftsmen and producing unique and outstanding, highly-collectable, modern furniture. Among many awards from prestigious institutions, Nakashima received the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Emperor and Government of Japan in 1983 in recognition of the cultural exchange generated by the shows he produced in Japan from 1968-1988. His work was widely exhibited, however, the late 1980s retrospective Full Circle, which opened at the American Craft Museum in New York, was to be his last.

Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, George’s daughter, has been creative director of the Nakashima studio since 1990, which continues to produce her father’s classic furniture designs and to produce her own work as well. She lives with her family at the studio compound in New Hope.

I wonder what’s going on though, because even more oddly, George Nakashima, who designed furniture for Knoll, isn’t listed on the MoMA on-line index, either.

Images from top
George Nakashima bending wood, 1940s

Conoid Bench, circa 1974
From the Japanese House, The Mr. and Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller Residence, Pocantico Hills, New York, circa 1974. American black walnut and hickory with one East Indian rosewood key
Sotheby’s estimate $150/200,000

Interior of the Conoid Studio at New Hope, circa 1960

Fine turned-leg dining table, 1958
English walnut, black walnut, rosewood, brass label
From a private collection
Rago estimate $35,000 – $45,000

The Minguren Museum
(Arts Building) from the Cloister at New Hope, which
was originally dedicated to showing artist, Ben Shahn’s work. Unfortunately he died in 1969, shortly after his inaugural exhibition here. Cloister guest rooms were a manifestation of Nakashima’s devotion to the monastic tradition, however, they also house the heating unit, bathroom, kitchen, and storage space, which were not included in the larger building. A large rock at the far edge of the pond is said to have inspired Nakashima to erect this building here.

Long chair, circa 1974
Executed specifically for the Japanese House of Governor and Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller, designed by Junzo Yoshimura. Walnut with cotton webbing.
Christie’s estimate 30,000 – 50,000 U.S. dollars

Walnut dresser, 1962
From a private collection
Rago estimate $6,000 – $9,000

All furniture images, courtesy of the respective auction houses. All other images, courtesy of George Nakashima, SA, or George Nakashima Archive. Special thanks to Soomi Hahn Amagasu for her help with this blog post

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Furniture Design | Hans (The Chair) Wenger

Friday, May 4th, 2012

20th Century Decorative Art & Design Sale
Christie’s, King Street, London, UK
3rd May, 2012

When I first met architect John Pawson around 1987, he had just completed his very memorable Wakaba, Japanese restaurant project, in London. ‘Inside, there is little to detract from the business of eating and conversation’ he wrote later in his eponymously titled monograph, John Pawson, published by Editorial Gustavo Gili in 1992. Except for the extraordinary choice of light, sculptural dining chairs with hand-woven seat, I thought, that were completely unfamiliar to me and which might easily be Japanese. It turned out, however, that the chairs, which feature a steam-bent, gently rounded top-piece that provides freedom of movement and generous comfort, making it suitable for eating as well as for relaxed sitting away from the table, were the Wishbone chair – reportedly, Pawson’s favourite chair – designed by Dane, Hans Wenger in 1949 for Carl Hansen & Son.

‘[Creating] a good chair is a task one is never completely done with,’ Wenger (1914-2007) is quoted as saying and having designed countless chairs in his 60-year career, in which his designs were produced by Fritz Hansen, Johannes Hansen, Carl Hansen & Sons, Getama and PP Møbler – 70-odd designs and variations are currently available at the Danish Design Store – who would have known better.

Son of a shoemaker, Hans Wenger was born in Tønder, Denmark, and finished his apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker at 17. Already experimenting with his own designs, as a twenty-year-old he moved to Copenhagen and studied at the School of Arts and Crafts before starting work as an assistant to architects Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen, for whose projects he ocassionally designed furniture. Opening his own office in 1943, Wenger brought out his China chair and later Round chair, which the US magazine Interiors featured on its cover, calling it ‘the world’s most beautiful chair’, thus catalpulting the designer to international fame. It became known simply as ‘The Chair’. Still produced by PP Møbler, it was made famous via the Kennedy/Nixon televised debates of 1959 and is one of his most commercially successful chairs for.

‘A chair… should be beautiful from all sides and angles,’ said Wenger and he was absolutely right. Though intended to be functional the best chairs are artworks in themselves and are far more than simply something to sit on. Wenger’s innovation, was to produce free-standing, sculptural chairs that looked good from every point of view and could stand alone without having to be part of a set. The inspiration for some of his designs had come from portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming chairs, so my earlier supposition was, geographically at least, not too far out.

Design classics, every one, Wenger’s superbly-crafted chairs have become highly collectable, especially among architects and designers. When I photographed architects Adam and Irenie Cossey and their children a year or so ago, they had just picked up a Wenger chair for ‘a good price’. Adam sat in it for the shot. Similar in feel to his chair, the adjustable chaise (above) in Christie’s 20th Century Decorative Art & Design Sale, yesterday, estimated to sell at £7,000 – 9,000, actually went for a cool £15,000.

Adam, seated on the Hans Wenger purchase, and Irenie Cossey with their children

Hans Wenger chairs from top
CH07 Lounge chair, 1963, produced by Johannes Hansen, laminated wood, with evidence of original orange lacquer beneath later white paint, later leather upholstery applied to the seat pads. Estimate £6,000 – 8,000. Price realised £11,250

JH-540 Valet chair
, 1953, produced by Johannes Hansen, carved teak, brass hinges, storage well of oak and with leather trim. Estimate £5,000 – 7,000. Price realised £6,000

JH-524 Adjustable chaise, 1958, produced by Johannes Hansen, carved oak, stainless steel, flagline and canvas applied metal manufacturer’s label Johannes Hansen. Estimate £7,000 – 9,000. Price realised £15,000

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