10 Iconic Treasures 0f 20th Century Design Now Selling at Christie’s

We may not be in the top five percent economically, but millions like us can still appreciate looking, even if we can't touch. Tomorrow, Christie's auction of 20th Century Decorative Art & Design at Rockefeller Center in New York, is one I'd love to see; there are hundreds of brilliant collectors' furniture and decorative items of the knuckle-biting kind, one more exquisite than the next. Here are 10 of the works that caught my eye for their artistry as well as iconic symbolism of period design.


1. How High The Moon, Shiro Kuramata 1934 - 1991


Shiro Kuramata is one of the most influential designers of post-war Japan, famous for his use of steel, wire mesh, and other industrial materials, symbolic of Japan's forge into a new political and economic era. How High The Moon is one of only 40 chairs made during the period of 1986 - 1997. The one being auctioned is of the period between 1986 and 1988. (Christie's Catalog)





2. Six-Light Lumiline Lamp, Peter Hamburger (b. 1941) and Ingo Maurer (b. 1932)

This very intriguing lamp (look closely) is made of acrylic and wire and it is classic '70's. German designer Ingo Maurer is one of the most prolific lighting designers today and his designs move just ahead of the times... like all great designers. This lamp, also known as Light Structure, is one he co-designed with American designer, Peter Hamburger. (Christie's Catalog)




3. Match Cut, Harush Shlom b. 1961

Match Cut is actually a 21st Century piece, designed in 2004. It's an aluminum table lamp with glass bulbs that light up like match sticks. (Another knuckle-biter.) A sculptor, Shlom typically works with aluminum and his works are shown throughout the world. Match Cut is signed and dated and inscribed number 2 of 8. (Christie's Catalog)




4. Three Cicognino Tables, Franco Albini, 1905 - 1977


The Cicognino (little stork) Tables are among Albini's most famous furniture designs. An architect and furniture designer, Franco Albini received Italy's highest design honors three times. Notice the 3 legs on the Cicognino Tables, like Newsome's chairs, three-legged bases were considered avant garde in the mid to late 20th Century. (Christie's Catalog)





5. Ananas Table Lamps, Line Vautri, 1913 - 1977


I could not pass these up, because the Ananas are so 60's, and these lamps were at the vanguard because Vautri designed them around 1960. The lamps were made of 'talosel' resin and glass and are 16 inches high. (The pair is estimated at between $30,000 and $50,000.) Talosel resin, which Vautri seemed to use for everything he designed, is cellulose acetate, a very friendly material to mold. (Christie's Catalog)





6. Dahlia, Fontana Arte

Fontana Arte is a company, not a person, but it has employed the finest Italian designers to create lighting and furniture design since 1932. The Dahlia wall lighting sconces are made of patinated metal and very delicate glass and produced circa 1954. Though works like these were seldom found in a 1950's home, there were many copies of them, so the originals are definitely icons. (Christie's Catalog)




7. 'Persian' Seven-Piece Glass Sculpture, Dale Chihuly b.1941


Chihuly is one of the most prominent glass sculptors in the world, recognized for his extraordinary artistic talent, as well as paving the way to taking glass sculpture off the coffee table and into interior decor. These sea-inspired Persians were made in 1997; the large piece is signed and numbered '7'. (Christie's Catalog) (Take a look at some of the Persians on display.)





8. A Pair of Wicker and Steel Chairs, Marc Newson b. 1963


Though Marc Newson designs everything from clothing to airplane cabins, these chairs are recognizable as Newson's "trademark" chair style; organic sculptures, low sitting, on three legs. Designed in 1990. (Christie's Catalog)




9. Minguren I, George Nakashima, 1905 - 1990


I would be remiss if I mentioned none of Nakashima's designs, but it was so difficult to pick one from Christie's sale collection... there are several. This Munguren (Nakashima produced many) seems to be in very fine shape. This 'low table' functions as a coffee table and is made of walnut, produced in 1983. As most of Nakashima's work was commissioned, the name of the original commissioner is inscribed in the table. The table will be sold with the original drawing and the correspondence related to the commission. (Christie's Catalog)





10. 'Sherman' Laminated Corrugated Cardboard Chair, Frank O. Gehry b. 1929


Frank Gehry is probably the best known living architect and designer, himself considered an icon of 20th Century architecture. What I like about his work is that you can see a smile in everything he creates. This limited edition 'Sherman' chair was created in 1990 from corrugated cardboard, before cardboard chairs were in for their environmental value. Even today, you don't see many cardboard creations quite this awesome. 250 chairs were made in this edition; the one for sale is number five! (Christie's Catalog)




There's even a photo of Frank Gehry sitting in the 'Sherman' chair on Wikipedia...



What great fun it is to look through Christie's sale items. If you can't make it to its 20th Century Decorative Art & Design auction, check out some of the hundreds of designs online.


Christie's, MoMA, Fontana Arte, Hurush Shlomo, Chihuly Glass, Wikipedia