Gavel talk: London's Phillips stages a duo of design-minded auctions

Phillips is staging two design oriented auctions, featuring a range of iconic pieces
This week, international auction house Phillips is staging two design-oriented auctions, featuring a range of iconic pieces. Pictured: important 'Canapé Gondole', by Marcel Coard, c.1925. Estimate £200,000–£300,000
(Image credit: Phillips)

This week, international auction house Phillips is staging a handful of star-studded sales in London's Berkeley Square.

As well as the imminent 'Time for Design' auction, set to raise money for Kensington's relocated Design Museum, Phillips is presenting a sale focusing on 'Modern Masters', along with a day auction simply entitled 'Design'.

The 'Modern Masters' catalogue reads like an impeccably curated design text book, with key pieces from Alberto Giacometti, Pierre Jeanneret and Marcel Coard going under the hammer, including everything from benches and rugs to chess-sets. Wallpaper* are particularly intrigued by the rare Pietro Chiesa globe ceiling light, which is close in form and style to a renowned piece the art-deco master created for the Cosulich Shipping Company of Trieste. Produced by Fontana Arte in the 1930s, the hand-blown glass lamp swings in at a cool estimate of £20,000. 

If 'Modern Masters' reads like a history book, the 'Design' catalogue is a maker's bible. Among clear standouts by Jean Prouvé, Ettore Sottsass and Gio Ponti, a quirky highlight is the range of venetian, hand-blown glass vases from the ever-collectable Japanese designer Yoichi Ohira. We love the aubergine-shaped 'Zucca in avorio con fili rossi' vase, with its polished inciso surface and hand-blown glass cane detail, expected to attract bids in excess of £15,000.

As if all this high-end gavel-action wasn't enough, Phillips is also pioneering a new online bidding system, paired with online auction house Launching today at their 'Evening and Day Exhibitions' sale in New York, the scheme allows Invaluable buyers from over 200 countries to access real-time bids in Phillips’ upcoming sales, both on the site and through the mobile app.

'We are pleased to extend the reach of our auction sales globally through the Invaluable marketplace and its discerning buyers,' says Megan Newcome, director of Phillips digital strategy. 'Collectors are increasingly engaging with the art world online and this initiative is one more step in establishing Phillips as an international leader in auctions and innovation.'

A wooden coffee table

From 'Modern Masters', a coffee table, by Gio Ponti, c.1957. Estimate: £30,000–£50,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

Rare bench, designed for the Antica Quadreria

Rare bench, designed for the Antica Quadreria, Contini Bonacossi Palace, Florence, by Gio Ponti, 1930. Estimate £35,000–£45,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

Left, rare swinging seat armchair and Right, rare Mariposa armchair

Pictured left: rare 'swinging seat' armchair, by Pierre Jeanneret, c.1955. Estimate: £20,000–£30,000. Right: rare 'Mariposa' armchair, by Gio Ponti, c.1958. Estimate: £12,000–£18,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

A wooden vanity case

From 'Design': sideboard, by Ettore Sottsass, c.1959. Estimate: £6,000–£8,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

Left, unique Zucca in avoria con fili rossi vase and Right, Spuma di Mare vase

Pictured left: unique 'Zucca in avoria con fili rossi' vase, from the 'Metamorfosi Orientale' series, by Yoichi Ohira, 2003. Estimate: £15,000–£20,000. Right: 'Spuma di Mare' vase, by Ercole Barovier, c.1938. Estimate: £6,000–£8,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

A counterbalance ceiling light

A counterbalance ceiling light, model no. 12432, by Angelo Lelii, c.1954. Estimate: £7,000–£9,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

Left, Epingle de Nourrice standard lamp and Right, from Modern Masters, a rare ceiling light

Pictured left: 'Epingle de Nourrice' standard lamp, by Yonel Lebovici, 1980. Estimate: £25,000–£35,000. Right: from 'Modern Masters', a rare ceiling light, by Pietro Chiesa, 1930s. Estimate: £15,000–£20,000

(Image credit: Phillips)

’Modern Masters’ takes place on 27 April; ’Design’ on 28 April. For more information, visit the Phillips website

Photography courtesy Phillips

Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.