Future Icons | A Who's Who of Contemporary Design

Future Icons | A Who's Who of Contemporary Design

Our January sale features an incredible selection of modern and contemporary Design from the collection of Rabih Hage. Throughout his career he has worked with, and collected some of the leading names who this era of Design history is sure to be remembered for.

5 January 2024



The sale presents a unique opportunity to purchase some of their most iconic pieces, destined for a spot in the pantheon of future classics. As many of these names are new to our Design catalogues, we thought we would take a look at who is who of some of the most prominent of these Designers and take a closer look at their work, backgrounds and modus operandi. 


Piet Hein Eek (Dutch, b.1967)


Working predominantly in scrap wood and discarded metal, Piet Hein Eek has forged a path of contemporary design with a social message of recycling and reusing, and the aversion to mass production. He graduated in 1990 from Design Academy Eindhoven, from which he launched his first series of his, now iconic, ‘Scrapwood Cupboards’. Selling the complete edition allowed him to set up his own studio, from which he developed further classics such as the Scrapwood Stool and Chair, and is continuously pushing the boundaries of sustainable production. Whilst his designs are produced in series no item will be identical to the other, due to the make-up of each individual item preserving colour, knocks and dents, giving each chair, bench, or cabinet its own unique character.

Having exhibited at the Stejdligt Museum in Amsterdam on multiple occasions, Eek has permanent pieces residing in its collections, as well as numerous prestigious institutions around the world such as the Kröller-Müller Museum, the MoMA in New York, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The pieces present offer a fantastic insight into Eek’s production, but were I to select one standout piece it would have to be the iconic Scrapwood Cabinet. Coming on over 30 years since its inception, it has arguably already reached iconic status with it defining Eek's production since. It’s a classic shape, finished in tranquil earthy tones and will look as at home in a city penthouse as it will in a country cottage.


A selection of works by Piet Hein Eek in our 16 January Design Sale. 

A selection of works by Piet Hein Eek in our 16 January Design Sale. 


Aki Kuroda (Japanese, b.1944)


Kuroda grew up in an increasingly globalised Japan, exposing him to Western art publications, such as Le Minotaure, introducing him to the leading Modernist artists of the time, such as Picasso and Dali. Being self-taught, Kuroda formulated his own artistic practice on the back of these influences working with bold silhouettes and playful figures. With his unique artistic style defined, he set out to travel Europe in the 1960s before settling in Paris in 1970. The following decade he exhibited in France, Eastern Europe, and Chicago, before winning the European Prize for Painting, paving the way for solo exhibitions at prestigious galleries across Europe, most notably Galerie Maeght in Paris. It was through this exhibition that he acquainted Joan Miró and Marguerite Duras, who, with the help of Adrian Maeght, helped launch Kuroda into the artistic stratosphere at the 11th Paris Bienalle in 1980.

Since then, he has been credited as the youngest Japanese artist to host a solo exhibition at the Japanese Museum of Modern Art where his pieces are now counted among the permanent collection, and as the first Japanese artist to exhibit at the Beijing Imperial Museum in China. At Fondation Maeght in Paris, his work now hangs alongside that of Miró, Chagall, and Léger, a testament to his artistic prowess. 

Silhouettes define the pieces present in the auction, from the ‘Milky Screen’ to the ‘Poppy Bench’. For me, however, the playful nature of the Dormeuse rabbits is a stand-out feature and one of the pieces I would personally go for. They are a superb combination of child-like imagination and Modernist form.


A selection of works by Aki Kuroda in our 16 January Design Sale. 

A selection of works by Aki Kuroda in our 16 January Design Sale. 


Karen Ryan


Karen Ryan, an alumna of the Royal College of Art in London where she studied under Ron Arad, was at the forefront of the burgeoning Design/Art movement of the 2000s. Working at the cross-section of Art and Design, her work repurposed and incorporated salvaged pre-existing works, a concept subsequently returned to by others from both disciplines, from Ai Weiwei to Martino Gamper.

Since her first exhibition of ‘The Chair’ in 1996, Karen Ryan has been obsessed with chairs and does not quite know why. She likens chairs to people, stating them to be testaments to cultural aesthetics and developments, but also vessels of personal history with the events and times they witness. Her first Custom Made chair was conceived in 2004 and would be the first of many unique iterations, with unloved chairs from charity shops, skips, or examples abandoned on the street being given a new lease of life.

Ryan’s humble chairs have made it to London Design Week, been exhibited in institutions from Norway to New York, and earned her numerous awards, such as the Craft Council 100% Design Bursary and the Swedish Timber Award for Product Design.

The playful and innovative relationship with the chair is widely exemplified throughout the lots offered. Each iteration presents a unique and bold take on humble chairs with, often, recognisable shapes such as Ercol, Hille, and Thonet being turned on their heads and presented in a reinvigorated and contemporary fashion.   


A selection of works by Karen Ryan in our 16 January Design Sale. 

A selection of works by Karen Ryan in our 16 January Design Sale. 




Tuesday 16 January | 10am

design@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778







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