The near dominance of Scandinavians among mid-20th century designers of wood furniture and artefacts was underlined at two sales at Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) in February.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Terence Ryle
Finn Juhl (1912-89) and Hans Wegner (1914-2007) are both again hugely admired by the cognoscenti.
Juhl’s popularity fell away in during the 1960s-70s but his resurgence began in the ’80s.
Following the decision of his widow Hanne Wilhelm Hansen in 2000 to pass design rights to Danish firm Onecollection, high-quality repro Juhl furniture is meeting a new market.
Evidence of his return to favour was the reaction to a set of four signed Finn Juhl For Kay Bojesen teak salad bowls and servers, offered at the specialist February 11 design sale.
As with all designer material, the nearer the date of production to original creation the better. Key to the attraction of the Chiswick material was that it had been commissioned and ordered directly from Den Permanente in Copenhagen, sold in 1954, and shipped to the UK.
Furthermore the items were in excellent condition with a fine patina and none of the splits which can occur as wooden pieces dry out.
All of which made the £300- 500 estimate look rather modest, particularly as the lot included other Danish wood wares including a small bowl by Ernst Henriksen (1886-1958).
“[Coming from a deceased estate] the bowls were very competitively valued, but equally the strength of the market for original pieces is undeniable,” said Chiswick specialist Liz Winnicott.
The lot prompted a huge response, particularly from Denmark, and finally sold at £6000.
Offered at the Interiors sale a fortnight later was a pair of teak open armchairs by Hans J Wegner (1914-2007). His best-known design remains his Wishbone chair, created in 1950 and in continuous production ever since, but these were among the other 500-plus chair models he created in his lifetime.
This pair at Chiswick, from the same estate and vendor as the Juhl material, was from a bespoke order in 1954 with the original receipt photographed with them.
“This had an enormous impact on the bidding,” said Winnicott after the 2ft 6in (77cm) tall chairs estimated at £200-300 sold to a UK dealer at £3000.
Works by the Memphis Group of designers received a significant boost following the sale of the David Bowie collection at Sotheby’s. Many record prices were achieved for the colourful 1980s-90s furnishings – once described as a “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price”.
Offered at Chiswick was a Minareto monumental totem designed by Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007).
Signed to the base and numbered 3/20, the 6ft 9in (2.05m) totem of glazed earthenware and plastic laminated wood was designed c.1993-94 and produced by the Agliana company Edizioni Arte Design.
Another piece to bring international competition, it sold to an Italian collector at £17,000 against a £7000-10,000 estimate.
When it comes to famous names in the design field none is more widely known than Eames, the American husband-and-wife team Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1912-88).
And probably none of their works is better known than the metal-framed moulded rosewood plywood and leather Lounge Chair, No 670, and Ottoman, No 671. First made in 1956 and still in producton, a new pair will cost around £8000 today.
The example offered at Canterbury Auction Galleries (20% buyer’s premium) on February 8 had 1976 labels for Eames’ key retailers Herman Miller.
Chair and ottoman were estimated at £1000-1500 but sold to a London bidder on thesaleroom.com at £4500.