Over the past few seasons, Sotheby’s has garnered much publicity and financial success with a series of art sales curated by public figures. Creatives who have lent their discerning eye include fashion designers Erdem Moralıoğlu and Anya Hindmarch, comedian Jill Kargman (together with her brother, art advisor Will Kopelman), and most recently choreographer Michael Clark. Now for the first time, the auction house has brought this guest curator model to its design arm. The next post-war and contemporary design sale, held in London on 17 October will be curated by Wallpaper* Editor-in-Chief, Tony Chambers.
Titled ‘Design: Living in a Material World,’ the auction will explore the ways in which leading designers past and present have engaged their materials. The selection covers a broad chronological spectrum, varying from a pair of stools from Swedish designer Axel Einar Hjorth’s ‘Utö’ series, 1932, to recent creations by the likes of Marc Newson and Studio Job. The materials themselves range from the traditional (wood, stone and marble), to modern and perhaps unconventional (concrete, plastic, even organic matter).
For Chambers, the theme of the sale reflects a recent, collective revelation that our heavy reliance on the internet has left us yearning for the tactile experiences. ‘As our lives become increasingly governed by the digital world, we have subsequently become more appreciative and sensitive to the analogue,’ he explains. ‘We now crave the touch, the feel, even the smell of the material world.’
Laetitia Contat Desfontaines, 20th century design specialist and head of sale at Sotheby’s, pointed out that the exhibition will consider the use of materials not only for aesthetic properties, but also structural strengths. She notes the diversity of the works on offer: ‘It’s fascinating to see how designers might have been using the same materials at exactly the same period, but achieving radically different results’.
A preliminary list of highlights, released this morning, reveal a 3D-printed armchair by Joris Laarman, a Newson table extracted from a single block of marble, a Thomas Heatherwick chair rendered in Murano glass, a Ron Arad table in honeycomb paper and carbon fibre, as well as a Studio Job cabinet that combines 17th century marquetry with 21st century laster-cutting technology.
The sale will be preceded by a public exhibition and a series of gallery talks, details of which will be announced imminently. The auction house continues to accept consignments.