Peter Shire - Design: Online Auction New York Wednesday, February 9, 2022 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Grace Designs, Dallas, acquired directly from Memphis
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1986

  • Literature

    Memphis Milano, sales catalogue, Milan, 1984, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips would like to thank Keith Johnson of Urban Architecture Inc., New York for his assistance cataloguing the present lot.

    The Bel Air chair remains among the most enduring designs produced by the Memphis group during its eight-year tenure. California ceramist and designer Peter Shire devised the chair in 1982 shortly after his induction into Memphis. Ettore Sottsass, the founder of the collective, invited Shire to join the group after seeing images of his teapots published in WET magazine, likely recognizing the similitude between the brazen approaches to design on the West Coast and in Italy. Trained at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, the winsome and curious formal language of the 1970s California milieu indeed influenced Shire greatly; Memphis similarly appealed to him for its irreverence and buoyancy.

    Nodding to his southern Californian origins, Shire named the present lot after the famed Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills. The work fully embodies the Memphis ethos with its asymmetric arms and legs as well as its bold wielding of color. While distinctly animated, the tall arched back of the chair imbues it with a sense of pomp, achieving the simultaneous inventiveness and convention characteristic of all Memphis furnishings. Upon its release, the Bel Air chair received immediate attention in the press. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London has held an early edition of the Bel Air chair in their permanent collection since 2010.

Property of a Private Miami Collector


Lot offered with No Reserve

Rare "Bel Air" armchair

Lacquered wood, fiberglass, fabric upholstery.
49 1/2 x 46 x 43 in. (125.7 x 116.8 x 109.2 cm)
Produced by Memphis, Milan, Italy. One foot with metal plaque printed MEMPHIS/MILANO/MADE IN ITALY and inscribed PETER SHIRE/1982 in pen.

$1,500 - 2,000 

Sold for $8,190

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Design: Online Auction

Online Auction 9 - 16 February 2022