Irish-based designers in mid-century modern sale

Works by Laois-based Zelouf and Bell, office desks and chairs to feature at Adams sale

When it comes to recognition in the world of craft and design, there can be few higher accolades than when The National Museum of Ireland chooses to include pieces of work as part of its permanent collection.

At the forthcoming Adam’s Mid-Century Modern sale – postponed from November 3rd and due now to take place in a live and online auction Tuesday, December 15th at their St Stephen’s Green showrooms – there are two pieces by Irish-based design duo Zelouf and Bell.

Gallerist Benoist Drut of Maison Gerard in New York describes designs by the duo and their team of master craftsmen based in Co Laois as "precious, clever, refined, fearless and unexpected", and Dr Jennifer Goff, of the National Museum of Ireland, which houses pieces by the furniture makers, has referred to their work as "true modern classics".

The pièce de résistance in the sale is the Four Seasons Cocktail Cabinet by Zelouf and Bell (lot 61, €10,000-€15,000). Though requiring a vast space to accommodate its 2m x 3m dimensions, the custom-built unit is one of a kind and is created from silvered sycamore with inlaid silver strings and an alabaster marble worktop.


The attention to detail is incredible, with leather-lined drawers, remote-controlled lighting and a Liebherr fridge that gently illuminates on opening against an iced mirrored interior.

For smaller spaces the sale also lists a lovely walnut revolving bar by Gianfranco Frattini for Bernini. With tambour doors and a brass top, the piece dating from the 1960s, is a rather clever design; due to its low height it works as a drinks table as well as storage for your favourite tipples (lot 28, €2,000-€3,000).

For apartments or those who only need space for the odd few bottles, lot 70 is a smart mid-century drinks trolley with brass detailing (€300-€500). The material it comprises is incredible; it appears at first sight to resemble malachite – with its deep grainy green hues – but it is actually lacquered goat skin creating a lovely contrast against the brass column detail (€800-€1,200).

This year there has been a huge demand for office desks as we eschew the kitchen table for a more permanent workspace. The second work in the sale by Zelouf and Bell is a super office desk. Its sleek design and hidden compartments would make a real statement in any home office (lot 40, €1,500-€2,000).

For smaller spaces the Aldo Rossi cherry desk is a neat alternative (lot 68, €1,500-€2,000) as is the Italian bird's eye maple desk from the 1950s (lot 92, €2,000-€3,000).

For illumination, fans of Eileen Gray will be interested in the Model N71 desk lamp attributed to the Irish designer and produced by Jumo (lot 134, €700-€1,000) and the really lovely Louis Kalff desk lamp in blue – with a bit of a spaceship theme – from the 1960s (lot 62, €400-€600).

The sale features three wonderful sets of chairs; the first is a set of six Model 602 by Gio Ponti from 1955, accompanied with certificates from the Gio Ponti Archives (lot 21, €4,000-€6,000). Also in there is a set of eight dining chairs by Ico Parisi, with a certificate of authenticity from the Ico Parisi Archives (lot 77, €3,000-€5,000) and lastly a set of six teak Model 75 chairs by Niels Otto Møller (lot 14, €2,000-€3,000).

For smaller spaces, a pair of Model Luisa chrome folding chairs by Marcello Cuneo for Mobel Italia from the 1970s would be a great solution for extra – but sleek – seating that can be neatly stored away until required (lot 82, €500-€800).

The highlight in the seating selection are a pair of iconic Costela Rib chairs by legendary designers Martin Eisler and Carlo Hauner, made from Brazilian rosewood from the 1950s (lot 30, €6,000-€8,000).

Adam's has a great You Tube video highlighting some of the items for sale on its website. Not only does it show lots featured, it also demonstrates how well contemporary art sits beside mid-century design.

Some of the most interesting art pieces are two large diptychs that patrons of the Shelbourne Hotel might well remember from the foyer of the Dublin institution.

Both paintings, which were commissioned by the hotel and created by artist Cian McLoughlin, depict characters from Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, and were part of the series of work that McLoughlin – with support from the Gate Theatre – produced in 2006 to celebrate the centenary of the 1969 Nobel Prize winner for literature.

Lot 19 of Didi and Gogo (€6,000-€10,000) and Pozzo and Lucky (lot 20 also €6,000-€10,000) are fine mementos from what the British Royal National Theatre poll in 1998, voted “the most significant English play of the 20th century”.

Another remarkable work is the mammoth Raman; a large-scale abstract painting by Mark Francis, which the catalogue describes as a "superb example of his trademark wet-on-wet technique" (lot 54, €15,000-€20,000).

Two works by artist John Boyd feature: lot 6, Echo is listed at €3,000-€5,000 and the interesting Megrum with two characters set against a cerulean blue background (lot 81) is seeking €2,000-€4,000.