The team at Palm Beach Modern Auctions (PBMA) south Florida’s leading specialists in modern and contemporary art and design will welcome bidders and other interested guests to a Nov. 22 Modern Design auction of more than 400 carefully chosen lots. Auctioneer and co-owner Rico Baca, who follows the market for modern very closely, described the selection of uber-chic furniture and art as “the finest gathering of modern design we have offered at auction to date.”
“Modern design is so cool, but at the same time, it’s so hot. It’s what people want for their homes nowadays,” said Baca. “The same designs that were considered avant-garde in the mid-20th century are now acknowledged classics, and over the decades they’ve inspired many other design movements. We have found that our buyers want both the best of the collectible early designs and the most interesting and cutting-edge designs of the past 25 years.”
The beauty of modern furniture, aside from its obvious aesthetic attributes, is that a single well-chosen piece can add instant personality to a room, Baca said, even if the backdrop is only four white walls, begging for attention.
“When you add an investment piece to a room, like a pair of Gio Ponti lounge chairs (Lot 665, estimate $20,000-$30,000) or a George Nakashima walnut and rosewood Minguren I coffee table (Lot 730, est. $25,000-$35,000), you immediately have your centerpiece, and in so doing, you’ve set the bar very high. Furniture with this type of pedigree will never go out of style.”
When it comes to seating, nothing can perk up a plain room as quickly as Lot 616, an Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti upholstered “Aladdin” sofa made in France. Hands down, it’s a design “wow” with its irregularly black-spotted gold upholstery and turned-out brass feet with a shape reminiscent of Aladdin’s slippers. The eye-catching sofa is expected to make $25,000-$35,000 at auction.
Lot 734, a pair of Sergio Rodrigues leather and chrome-plated steel “Vronka” lounge chairs resided in a private home in Rio de Janeiro before being acquired by the consignor. Rodrigues (1927-2014) was a pioneer in Brazilian modern design and founded the company Oca in 1956. “His designs were uncompromising, always of the very finest materials,” Baca said. “Sergio Rodrigues became world famous after Oscar Neimeyer and Lucio Costa chose his furniture for the décor in buildings they designed in the then-new capital city of Brasilia. The lounge chairs in our sale are for connoisseurs.” Estimate for the pair: $12,000-$15,000.
Offered consecutively as Lots 533 and 534 are two pairs of fabric and brass slipper chairs by William (Billy) Haines, a former actor turned interior designer whose clients included movie stars and the crème de la crème of American society. His slipper chairs were a modern interpretation of the Ancient Greek klismos chairs seen in bas-relief artworks from as early as the mid-5th century BC. Each pair of chairs is offered with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.
Fancy a cocktail? PBMA has you covered with Lot 726, a quintessential Paul Evans mixed-metal cabinet and dry bar with two doors that open to reveal interior drawers, shelves and storage. The 80-inch-tall cabinet of brass, copper, bronze, aluminum and wood is pictured in the Jeffrey Head reference titled Paul Evans Designer & Sculptor. It is entered in the Nov. 22 auction with a presale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
Sam Maloof meant business when he designed a 119-inch-wide conference/dining table of South American rosewood, which is cataloged as Lot 757. Boasting a beautiful, naturally patinated surface and flawlessly symmetrical base, the table comes with provenance from a Tampa, Florida private collection. A commanding statement piece, it has auction expectations of $50,000-$70,000. The broad selection of decorative accessories includes Lot 655, a pair of large Stilnovo brass and enameled-metal 5-arm sconces or ceiling lights with an “atomic” motif. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.
A perfect choice for indoor or outdoor dining is Lot 670, a Rudi Bonzanini round, glass-top dining table with six lacquered fiberglass chairs in a pastel pistachio shade. The estimate for this stylish suite is $15,000-$25,000.
To light up the modern residence, one could not go wrong in choosing Lot 571, a pair of rare Tommi Parzinger floor lamps with pierced brass shades, estimate $6,000-$8,000. But for maximum visual impact, the chandelier of choice would be Lot 542A, a monumental Italian Sputnik/Starburst design with glass spikes on a brass sphere. Its estimate is $20,000-$25,000.
Other auction highlights include Lots 711 and 712, consecutive pairs of Erwine and Estelle Laverne “Daffodil” lounge chairs from the Invisible Group, est. $3,000-$5,000 per pair; Lot 779, a Walter Lamb chaise lounge, est. $2,500-$5,000; and Lot 843, a Warren Platner for Knoll suite consisting of a pair of bronze-framed, upholstered lounge chairs with matching occasional table, est. $5,000-$6,000. Additionally, there are a number of quality prints by such widely collected artists as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Banksy, and Aya Takano.
PBMA’s Nov. 22, 2014 Modern Design Auction will commence at 12 noon Eastern Time at the company’s exhibition center and auction venue located at 417 Bunker Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Preview: Monday through Friday from 10 am. to 5 pm., and 9 am. onward on auction day.
All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers or Bidsquare. For additional information, call 561-586-5500 or e-mail info[.]modernauctions.com.