Five minutes with the Head of Modern Design



Head of Modern Design Bruce Addison holds his inaugural sale on Tuesday 16th April. Here, we ask Bruce to highlight some of his favourite pieces in the sale, from the iconic to the unusual, and the design history behind them:


So, give us an overview of your first sale with Chiswick Auctions?

It’s a small but well-formed sale, featuring some of the most famous designers and manufacturers from across the 20th century – from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Tom Dixon. And there are some really iconic pieces too, including lighting, chairs and furniture. It’s exciting!


Lot 57. Poul Henningsen (1894-1967), A large ‘Artichoke’ ceiling pendant, designed 1958. Estimate: £1,500-2,000

Lot 44. Poul Henningsen (1894-1967), A large ‘Artichoke’ ceiling pendant, designed 1958. Estimate: £1,500-2,000


Tell us about some of these iconic pieces.

I would have to choose the two ‘artichoke’ ceiling pendants, designed by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen in 1958. They were originally designed for the Langelinie Pavillonen restaurant in Copenhagen, where they still hang. This pendant is one of the most iconic and recognised designs in the lighting world. We have the original ‘copper / rose gold’ design as well as the later white design. Each of the 72 leaves hide the glare of the bulb from the viewer. I think they are stunning!

Lot 48. Verner Panton for Thonet – An early No.276 ‘S’ chair, designed in 1966. Estimate: £1,200-1,800

Another Danish masterpiece is the ‘Panton S Chair’, designed by Verner Panton. It was the world’s first moulded plastic chair, designed in one piece without any legs. Ours is an early example, using plywood, but when they were manufactured in larger quantities, plastic was used. I’ve included more information in our online catalogue.


What about the more modern pieces in the sale? You mentioned Tom Dixon?

Lot 45. Tom Dixon (B. 1959) A ‘Crown Chair’ designed 1988, this early edition c.1989-90, and a silver gelatine print of Liz Hurley sitting on the chair. Estimate: £2,000-3,000

Yes, Tom Dixon became very famous as the head of design for Habitat. We are delighted to be able to offer this early example of Tom Dixon’s Crown chair. London in the 1980’s was right at the cutting edge of design and art with Tom Dixon and others in the process of becoming household names. This elegant, hand-made chair is one of his best-known, and succinctly sums up this period of innovation and creativity, and his desire to make furniture in a completely new way.

The Liz Hurley association is interesting, the photograph – a publicity shot for Ms Hurley - predates her being catapulting to international stardom at the premier of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, on the arm of Hugh Grant…and in ‘that Versace dress’!


Pick out another classic for us!

Lot 58. George Nakashima (1905-1990), A chest of drawers, designed and executed c.1962. Estimate: £7,000-10,000

The George Nakashima chest of drawers is a beautiful piece by this American woodworker and furniture maker, very ‘mid century’ and very sought after in today’s market. What’s fascinating about this piece is it’s provenance. It was bought directly from George Nakashima by the current owner's parents. The chest was one of several items purchased, and was originally not for sale as it had been intended for Mr Nakashima's wife. How amazing is that?


And finally, something unique?

Lot 47.Possibly by Rena Dumas (1937-2009), A unique monolithic desk, designed and executed 1980s. Estimate: £2,500-4,000

Well, this will have to be Lot 47. It’s a desk made from polished limestone, with ammonite inclusions from the Jurassic / Cretaceous period, hand carved, with raw legs and a black leather writing surface. This would look brilliant in a study, office or boutique hotel lobby.

The 20th Century Design Sale is on Tuesday 16 April at 11am.

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