Auctioneer's Picks | Design

Auctioneer's Picks | Design

With 400 lots, our April catalogue offers a great variety and something for everyone. Ahead of the sale next week, our team has chosen their favourites from the selection, which spans the Aesthetic Period to Contemporary Design.

23 April 2024

VIEW AUCTION     REQUEST A VALUATION     CONTACT A SPECIALIST

 

 

Otto Billström | Head of Department – Lot 254

 

A Danish 'AP-46' or 'Ox Chair' (£3,500-4,500)

A Danish 'AP-46' or 'Ox Chair' (£3,500-4,500)

 

I've always loved the Ox Chair (or Ox King, as there indeed was a Queen model to accompany it) since I first laid eyes on it during my childhood. Some twenty years later, it still manages to move me whenever I see one, and it is becoming increasingly hard not to bid on them when I do.

Conceived in 1960 by Hans Wegner, it charged into the world against a Modernist backdrop of minimalism. Contrary to the mantra of "refine, perfect, and minimise" it’s anything but discrete and its loud form sets out to take up space rather than quietly exist within it. Its boisterous shape heralded a new, more liberal form of design, where form did not have to be sacrificed for function – something that you are more likely to see in designs of the 1950s and more so the 1970s – and where size was everything!

As such, I have always felt it has more in common with the pioneering and experimental designs of the late 1940s, such as Eero Saarinen's Womb Chair or Finn Juhl's Chieftain Chair. Similar to these, the Ox invokes a sense of drama and dares to venture into grandeur and the statuesque.

One of the things I’ve always loved about it is its invitation to comfort. Unlike a Victorian settee that demands a formal posture, the Ox Chair beckons you to lounge. Its design is a testament to this comfort, with every inch crafted to enhance relaxation.

Among Wegner’s impressive collection of over 500 chair designs alone, the Ox Chair will always have a special place in my heart. It was also Wagner’s personal favourite and stood at the centre of his living room. Flanked by numerous of his other iconic designs in this temple of Danish Modernism, such as the Peacock or J16 rocking chair, the Ox indeed reigned as King!

 

John Black | Director – Lot 6

 

A mahogany Thebes stool (£400-600)

A mahogany Thebes stool (£400-600)

 

A few weeks before the sale closed for consignments, we received an email from a lady, who had bought this stool from a local charity shop ‘For a Song’, it is one of the most beautifully crafted examples I have seen, and in excellent condition.

I’m strangely obsessed with Egypt, the Land of the Pharaohs and its treasures, I’m not alone. Ever since the Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt at the end of the 18th century, the modern world has been fascinated with its pyramids and secrets, unlocked with the deciphering of the ‘Rosetta Stone’, written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, demotic and Greek, in 1822.

Egyptology grew throughout the 19th century, threading its way throughout the arts, architecture and culture. In the Great Exhibition of 1851, copies of Rameses II statues were shown, which enlivened the mysteries to everyman.

Leonard Francis Wyburd, in the 1860’s, was inspired to make the ‘Thebes’ stool, and in 1884 the design was patented by Liberty of London. Working with designers such as Sir Christopher Dresser, EW Godwin and others their Egyptian inspired designs filtered throughout Victorian Britian and beyond.

When Howard Carter uncovered the riches of Tutankhamun’s tomb and the treasure therein, it began a wider Egyptomania, into the Art Deco period.

When the British Museum held its ‘Treasures of Tutankhamun’ in 1972, 1.7 million of us flooded to see its riches...

 

 

Alex Froggatt | Glass & Decorative Arts | Senior Valuer – Lot 21

 

A Loetz 'Rubin Matte Iris' glass vase (£400-600)

A Loetz 'Rubin Matte Iris' glass vase (£400-600)

 

The Loetz 'Rubin Matte Iris' glass vase is one of my favourite lots in the sale, largely due to the slightly atypical nature of it compared to the usual output of the Loetz factory. During the tail end of the 19th century iridescent glass became very fashionable with the likes of Tiffany producing their wonderful ‘Favrile’ range.

The petrol-like effect of the iridescence on this piece is similar to contemporary ‘Bronze’ ware produced by Stourbridge firms such as Thomas Webb & Sons. The similarity of different international manufacturers’ output and decorative art taste over 100 years ago has always been a fascinating phenomenon.

Visually, the concaved sides complement the outlined floral design in a way that gives the vase a timeless look. Admittedly, iridescent glass is not for everyone, but this is one I would gladly house in my collection.

 

Emilia Gambell | Marketing Assistant – Lot 286

 

A set of four 'Gli Influssi Astrali' plates (£1,500-2,500)

A set of four 'Gli Influssi Astrali' plates (£1,500-2,500)

 

My favourite lot from the sale is the set of four 'Gli Influssi Astrali' plates by Piero Forsanetti. I am a fan of most of Forsanetti's designs as they are unique and vibrant, particularly his plates and dinnerware. This set depicts four zodiac signs: Leo, Virgo, Capricorn, and Aquarius.

I love the intricacy of the gold motifs, it's almost like the more you look at it, the more the details jump out at you. My star sign is Aquarius which I have always seen as the most boring of all the signs, but the way Forsanetti has used one of the Ancient Greek Sea Gods instead makes the pretty mundane air sign look fascinating.

This set of plates would look stunning on display, and are the sort of thing I aspire to own one day!

 

 


 

 

Tuesday 30 April | 10am

design@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778

 

VIEW AUCTION

 


  

 

 

 


 

Recent News

 

Walking in Memphis | Less is Bore

Despite being a short-lived movement of only seven years, pioneering designer Ettore Sottsass and his fellow postmodernists of the Memphis Group continue to define the landscape of contemporary design, with their witty and whimsical designs that, despite being designated a fad, continue to be a point in Design history that we love to revisit. 

24 May 2024

Artwork from The House of St Barnabas (in liquidation)

Our upcoming auction features notable works from The House of St Barnabas (in liquidation), including a Banksy Soup Can screenprint, Rob Ryan's papercut The Map of My Entire Life, and the portrait Sisters by Portuguese artist Wanda Bernardino. These artworks, donated by the artists or their galleries, celebrate the legacy of the charity, which closed in 2024.

Jaguar XK150 Owned by Speed Legend Donald Campbell set to Roar at Auction

Donald Campbell’s Jaguar XK150 comes for sale at Sworders this summer. The classic sports car, bought by the British speed record-breaker in 1958 as his regular runabout, is expected to bring over £150,000 on 18 June, as part of a stand-alone auction of classic cars. The car’s full history is confirmed by a Jaguar Daimler Heritage Certificate.

24 May 2024

 


 

Get Sworders News