Allen Jones - Design London Thursday, May 12, 2022 | Phillips

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  • At his Aram Store on the King’s Road in the 1960s, designer and arts patron Zeev Aram introduced design household names including Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand to the UK. Aram’s life commitment to design saw him foster and promote young talent, staging graduate exhibitions in his store and later at his Covent Garden space. Aram was also recognised for championing Eileen Gray’s work and the two of them became close friends; he was instrumental in ensuring her work was not to be forgotten. In 1987, on the 23rd anniversary of Aram Designs, Aram organised an exhibition for which he commissioned design works from celebrated artists such as Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi, Norman Foster, Lord Snowdon and Allen Jones. The present prototype ‘Love Seat’ was one of two works designed by Jones.


    Allen Jones with his prototype ‘Love Seat’
    Photo: Aram Designs


    Since the early 1960s, Allen Jones has been a central figure of the British Pop art movement. The radical nature of his work became more distinct after he briefly relocated to New York City in 1964. There, Jones began exploring erotic motifs, which he had only discreetly alluded to in previous works. Discovering that risqué imagery was more prevalent in American advertising and magazines than in his native Britain, the artist began developing an overtly sexualised visual language that questioned the conventional ideologies of his time.

    Steeped in theory but taking the street as his theatre, Jones looked to develop a unique language through which he could create his idealised figures. The stylised bodies of both men and women employ and exaggerate clichés to arouse an emotional response in the viewer. While his work has earned adoration from fellow artists and viewers alike, he has also caused outcry through his seeming sexual objectification of women, most infamously in his chairs, hatstands, and other pieces of furniture in the shape of realistic life-size female forms. He avers that, ‘the artist cannot worry about how someone might misconstrue the work. When you’re doing the work, your duty is to make the image within the language of the artistic frame of reference you are pursuing. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s tough.’

    He has also said ‘Aram’s invitation to design a piece of furniture has given me the opportunity to introduce ‘functionality’ into my sculptural pre-occupations. A love seat, like a bench, has a social connotation but with a vital difference, the former implies intercourse whilst the latter, discourse. Either way it is an act of imagination.’  

    'A love seat, like a bench, has a social connotation but with a vital difference, the former implies intercourse whilst the latter, discourse. Either way it is an act of imagination.'  —Allen Jones

    Inspired by the static mannequins of his earlier work, ‘Love Seat’ is a less abrasive representation of the female figure. A stylized body lies on its elbows and knee whilst one leg is held higher and rests on the tip of its toes. A pose suggestive an invitation for two to sit and have an intimate conversation. It is a delightful piece which at once provides a sense of sensuality and intellectual enjoyment. 

    • Provenance

      Aram Designs, London
      Thence by descent to the present owner

    • Exhibited

      'AD 23 Collection', Aram Designs Ltd., London, 7 April-22 May 1987

    • Literature

      Caroline Clifton-Mogg, 'Chair Play', Harpers & Queen, May 1987, illustrated pp. 183, 186
      Georgina Howell, 'Artisans', The Sunday Times, April 1987, n.p.
      'Stick'n Stones', Time Out, April 1987, n.p.
      José Manser, 'Aram's altruism woos industry', Design Week, September 1988, n.p.


Prototype 'Love Seat'

Birch plywood, stained birch plywood.
111 x 104 x 81.5 cm (43 3/4 x 40 7/8 x 32 1/8 in.)
Produced by Crowdys Wood Products, London, UK.

Full Cataloguing

£7,000 - 9,000 

Sold for £25,200

Contact Specialist

Antonia King

Head of Sale, Design
+44 20 7901 7944


London Auction 12 May 2022