Eileen Gray, Manfredo Massironi and Hans J Wegner are just some of the classic icons of 20th-century design that will be represented at De Vere’s Design sale on Tuesday November 1st.
Unlike much of the furniture produced today, their creations stand out in terms of design and quality, while also bringing style and durability. While it is possible to buy imitations of signature pieces, these have little resale value, unlike classic, authentic furniture, made under licence, which holds its value and is built to last.
The apartment of Madame Mathieu-Lévy on Rue de Lota in Paris was regarded as one of the most sensational examples of 1920s French interior architecture. Eileen Gray created the decor over a five-year period, where black- and silver-lacquered wall panels acted as a backdrop for a sumptuous lounge in the shape of a dugout canoe.
Another showpiece in the apartment was the Lota sofa, with deep-fill cushions and coloured lacquered side pieces. Gray liked it so much that she made a second one for her own home. Both luxurious and simple, the piece, which was designed in 1924, had an underlying purpose. With the removal of loose cushions and one of the end lacquered boxes — an easy task as they are on castors — it allows the sofa to serve as a bed.
The sale lists two such sofas in deep charcoal by the Irish modernist architect and designer, manufactured by ClassiCon, each bearing a label with Gray’s signature (€3,000-€5,000 apiece).
One of Gray’s No 71 desk lamps, for Jumo, is also featured, at €400-€600.
Other seating in the sale includes a triple-seat Beethoven sofa by Giorgio Armani Casa (€1,000-€1,500) and two chairs by Fendi. While the brand, under the helm of Karl Lagerfeld in the 1960s, became an international luxury name synonymous with leather and furs (its double-F logo stands for “fun furs”), over the ensuing years the company broke into the luxury home goods market with Fendi Casa. The sale lists a Fendi leather easy chair (€1,000-€1,500) and a faux crocodile leather upholstered wingback chair priced at €1,500-€2,500.
The CH07 Smile chair by Hans J Wegner for Carl Hansen and Son is an often-copied, standout design. Wenger was regarded as the “master of the chair”, according to the catalogue notes, and his design — made from upholstered form-pressed veneer in 1963 — gives a floating lightness to the piece, reiterating Wegner’s belief that a chair should be beautiful from all angles (€1,000-€1,500). Two lots of David Linley’s Aston chair and stool combo are seeking €1,500-€2,000 apiece.
Also listed are a pair of circular tables from the Ritz in Paris (€800-€1,200). The gilt custom-made circular cocktail tables from 1960 bear a Ritz Hotel Paris brass label, and were removed from the landmark hostelry when it was renovated in 2018.
An unmistakable piece, due to its lightness and form, is the lacquered marine ply bookcase with four little cupboards by Manfredo Massironi for Nikol International from the 1970s. Designed to look like it is protruding out of the wall, its multidimensional effect provides lots of storage and interest from all angles (€2,000-€4,000).