Press | Phillips

01 October 2018

Phillips Announces Highlights from the October Design Sales in London Including Important Design


Phillips Announces Highlights from the October Design Sales in London Including Important Design

And a Separate Session Dedicated to Modern British Ceramics Lucie Rie and Hans Coper – Potter and Artist

LONDON – 1 OCTOBER 2018 – Phillips brings together a broad spectrum of international names across its sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Design in London this fall. Important Design will offer works by the most respected designers from the past century, including Diego Giacommetti, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Gio Ponti, Jean Royère, Charlotte Perriand, and Jean Prouvé. A group of exceptional works by Ettore Sottsass, Jr. are included in the sale, alongside contemporary design by Ron Arad, Wendell Castle, Zaha Hadid, and Marc Newson, among others. Comprised of 166 lots, Important Design will take place at 2pm on 18 October, and will be preceded by a separate auction at 11am celebrating the pioneers of Modern British ceramics – Lucie Rie and Hans Coper – Potter and Artist­

Important Design is led by Diego Giacometti’s ‘La promenade des amis’ console, designed circa 1976, which has impeccable aristocratic provenance. This console features a playful narrative illustrative of the lively worlds the artist created through his work, combining a sculptor’s interest in balance and proportion within space, and a fascination with the expressive possibilities of nature. The original owner of the present ‘La promenade des amis’ console was part of a noble family, celebrated within Parisian society and notorious for their parties during the 1930s and 40s. The princess was advised by Henri Samuel, one of the most admired French interior designers of the twentieth century, on her furniture purchases. Through an introduction by Samuel, the princess met Diego and subsequently acquired the present work.

In 1950 Charlotte Perriand began designing the interiors and furnishing designs for the Unité d'habitation Air France in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo; comprised of sixty apartments to house its employees. Perriand studied the building’s exterior colour scheme, which, heightened by the facade’s horizontal and vertical lines, provided a rhythmic structuring that Perriand extended into the interior of the building. Fundamental to Perriand’s interiors for the Unité d'habitation Air France were her designs for storage units or cupboards, known as ‘Placards Brazza’. She designed eight standardised models, developed from the floor-to-ceiling cupboard model she had designed for the kitchen of Élisabeth de Vilmorin, Paris (1949-50) and the sliding door system she had used in her designs for the Unité d'Habitation, Marseille (1947-49). Perriand sought to put the cupboards into mass production, in order to make her designs available to the public. In 1951 she presented her studies to Jean Prouvé, who offered to undertake the production of the cupboards’ folded sheet metal frames. The project marked Perriand’s first large-scale collaboration with the Ateliers Jean Prouvé. Perriand’s 'Brazza' cupboards illustrate her desire to bring together standardised elements in order to enhance the adaptability the designs, which she could re-imagine in response to the requirements of a specific space, imposing a sense of rhythm and structure within it.

An Important and rare Mantel clock by Sir Edwin Lutyens, designed for Lady Willingdon, the Viceroy’s House, New Delhi, circa 1930, is a perfect testimony to the great British architect’s unique style, which was often suffused with. The clock takes the form of an urn surmounted by a vase finial supporting a flower. This is actually a brass key cast as a pansy, by family tradition a pun on the French word penser, a reminder to wind it up. Lutyens was famous for his bad puns. The oval clock face requires hands that expand and contract like tongs to ensure that the time can be read accurately. As was his wont when he was particularly pleased with a design, Lutyens commissioned one or two copies for himself and his family (a second clock remains with another descendant). The present lot can be seen sitting at Luyten’s desk in a photograph of the late 1930s. Also coming from the Lutyens Family Estate is an Important and rare 'Mercury Ball' chandelier, designed for the Viceroy’s House, New Delhi, circa 1930 (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

Building on the success of American crafts in New York in December, and London in April, Important Design includes Wendell Castle’s Unique 'Angel Heart' rocking chair. Designed as part of a series produced in 2010, Castle’s rocking chair explores sculptural balance through exaggerated rounded shapes and dynamic curves which reveal both the influence of the British artist Henry Moore as well as hinting at the designer’s passion for early racing cars.


Other works by celebrated contemporary designers include Marc Newson’s ‘Zenith’ chair, produced in 1998. Using light metal to manipulate mass and line, Newson applied high end car manufacturing technology to achieve a sleek seamlessness. Newson continues to favour aluminium in his industrial and furniture designs, and the 'Zenith' chair represents a crucial shift in his engagement with the material. The present model chair will be included as number MN-12ZC-1998 in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Marc Newson's editioned works produced by Galerie kreo, Paris. 

A strong feature in the sale is a group of 25 works by Ettore Sottsass Jr., arguably the greatest theoretical architect and designer of the 20th century. Following the extraordinary results achieved by Phillips in April 2018, including a new auction record for Sottsass, Important Design will include ground-breaking designs from the Collection of Renzo Brugola. The Prototype ‘Commode column’, created circa 1963, is an example of the multifunctional tower furniture that first appeared in Sottsass’s work in the early sixties. These works illustrate the considerable contribution of Renzo Brugola, whose carpentry workshop was based in Lissone, near Milan. The collaboration between the designer and the carpenter continued to develop for over forty years and together they realised a significant number of prototypes and furnishings. The iconic, totemic piece, conceived by Sottsass as a mysterious domestic deity, would characterise both his current and future work, beginning with Poltronova and continuing through his collaboration with Alchimia and Memphis in the 1970s and 1980s. Such works would eventually become part of the most important galleries and museums worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.


Also included is an Important frieze, circa 1965, a ceramic painting-structure. Sottsass’ experimental studies of structure and colour found solutions to the recurring issue of decoration: colour, light and symbols are not decorative elements, but also act as structure. The Frieze, comprised of 35 tiles, is presumably from Sottsass’ ‘Camera da letto’ (Bedroom), designed for ‘La casa abitata’, an exhibition held in Palazzo Strozzi, Florence in the spring of 1965. The present lot appears to be a portion of the Frieze, installed around the room. Further highlights include a Unique ‘Urano’ ceiling light, circa 1957, from a Private Italian Collection.

 Lucie Rie and Hans Coper – Potter and Artist

Preceding the Important Design sale is a curated section of 32 ceramics celebrating the work and legacy of Dame Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. This significant group of pots, bowls, vases, bottles and stem cups, gives a clear sense not only of ceramics at their most paired down, but of a new aesthetic in British clay in the post-war period, one that went beyond technique. By the late 1940s ceramics in London art colleges like the Central School and Institute of Education became more experimental and sculptural, often looking outside clay for ideas, for example to European avant-garde art, but concentrating chiefly on hand-building. Meanwhile Rie and Coper were working more independently, almost out on a limb, developing a quieter more ethereal modernism, one born out of the pulse and life of the wheel. Included in this section is an important group from the family collection of William Ohly.

Lucie Rie and Hans Coper – Potter and Artist

Auction: Thursday, 18 October 2018, 11am

Auction viewing: 13 - 18 October

Location: 30 Berkeley Square, London

Click here for more information.


Important Design

Auction: Thursday, 18 October 2018, 2pm

Auction viewing: 13 - 18 October

Location: 30 Berkeley Square, London

Click here for more information.




Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewelry, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world.  In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services.

Visit for further information.


*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium; prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

PRESS CONTACTS:                        

LONDON - Katie Carder, Head of Press, Europe                                              +44 20 7901 7938


PHILLIPS NEW YORK - 450 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022

PHILLIPS LONDON - 30 Berkeley Square, London W1J 6EX

PHILLIPS HONG KONG -  14/F St. George’s Building, 2 Ice House Street Central Hong Kong


FOLLOW US ON: Twitter | Instagram | Vimeo | Facebook | Pinterest | LinkedIn