Major works by contemporary designers and modern Italian masters lead Phillips' design sale this October

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Major works by contemporary designers and modern Italian masters lead Phillips' design sale this October
Ettore Sottsass, Unique and important coffee table with integrated bookshelves, circa 1949. Estimate: £15,000 – 20,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

LONDON.- Phillips announced highlights from the upcoming London Design auction, which will take place on Thursday 17 October at 30 Berkeley Square. Spanning key periods of modern and contemporary design, the sale comprises 156 lots. Featuring in the sale are ceramics by Ettore Sottsass Jr. and Lucie Rie as well as masterfully crafted works by Gio Ponti, Hans J. Wegner, and Joris Laarman. As part of a unique collaborative project between Phillips and Märta Måås-Fjetterström to celebrate the studio’s centenary, a uniquely patterned rug, designed by the studio’s artistic director Barbro Nilsson for the Stockholms stads handtverksförening, will be offered.

Leading the Italian works in the sale are two unique prototype folding coffee tables designed by Gio Ponti in 1970. Featuring joints and hinges which enable them to collapse and fold into transportable pieces, these two works showcase Ponti’s remarkable architectural eye and innovation. Both tables come directly from private collections and will be offered at auction this October for the first time. In addition to the two Ponti coffee tables this sale features an important illuminated bar cabinet and a rare table by Pietro Chiesa, as well as a large spectacular ceiling light by Flavio Poli, designed for the 1958 Biennale in Venice.

The top lot of the sale is Joris Laarman’s ‘Bone’ armchair, seeking to emulate the growth structure of bone, Laarman’s seminal design is crafted from Carrara marble powder and casting resin. Other contemporary works include Ron Arad’s Blo-Void 1 and Blo-Void 2 (estimate: £40,000 - 60,000). Designed in 2006, these futuristic and polished aluminum chairs showcase Arad’s distinctive use of industrial materials to create domestic furniture.

Exhibiting Fausto Melotti’s expressive use of colour combined with mid-century European Modernism is a set of tiles designed in 1951 for the architect Ico Parisi’s apartment in Como, Italy. Similar to the set which Phillips debuted in the record-breaking Casa di Fantasia sale in London in March 2019, this set is made up of 20 coloured glazed earthenware tiles. These tiles are the only remaining examples from the original interior.

A strong selection of works by Ettore Sottsass, Jr. will also be presented in the auction. Following Fragile; Ettore Sottsass, Ceramics and Enamels, 1955 – 1970, an exhibition exploring the architect’s ceramic career hosted by Phillips London earlier this year, this auction will feature ten earthenware ceramics and a metal plated brass vase designed between 1969 and 1995. The leading work from the selection is a unique coffee table designed for Sottsass’ own apartment in Milan, circa 1949. A mixed media work entitled ‘Giorno di Nebbia’, dated 1958, will also be offered.

An additional highlight of the sale is a pair of wall lights by Armand-Albert Rateau. This model was designed for the hôtel particulier of couturier Jeanne Lanvin, Paris. Rateau refurbished Lanvin’s apartment between 1921-1925. Chosen for his shared understanding of Lanvin’s interpretation of a classical style into a modern visual language, Rateau integrated neoclassical motifs such as acanthus and palm leaves into his designs. The gilded bronze wall lights to be offered at auction are emblematic of his style and feature stylised daisies and a butterfly.

Hans J. Wegner’s 'Chinese' armchair will also be offered as a highlight of the auction. Capturing Wegner’s characteristic functionalist and sculptural approach to design as well as twentieth-century Danish design theory, the armchair is a modern interpretation of a classical form. The high-back of the design comprises a curved wooden back and an out-ward turning top rail. These elements relate to the characteristics of a Chinese chair dating from circa 1800 acquired by the Designmuseum Danmark in 1937 while Wegner was attending the Cabinetmaker Day School at the School of Arts and Crafts.

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