One of the best addresses to go when it comes to Modern Design, Wright Auctions presents their American Design auction, which takes place on September 15. This sale features the iconic 20th century designs with a broad range of ever popular American designers and furniture producers such as George Nelson. There are many sightly designs by Charles & Ray Eames, who are possibly the core of any American Design auction or exhibition, followed by other cherished designers such as Henry Glass and Florence Knoll. Moreover, the dynamic paper sculptures by Irving Harper add variety to the sale. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
The main highlight of the auction is definitely this cabinet system design by two geniuses of modern design: Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames. Shown at the groundbreaking MoMA exhibition, “Organic Design Competition”, it is an object of documented historical importance and provenance. The Organic Design Competition was an exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1940, to “discover good designers and engage them in the task of creating a better environment for today’s living.” Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen won the first prize for both of their submissions: seating for a living room and other furniture for a living room, which included this large cabinet system. Their designs stood out among the competitors with their innovative technologies and new manufacturing processes, admired until this day.
The sale includes paper sculptures by Irving Harper, the director of design and George Nelson & Associates, who died in August 2015 at the age of 99. He was the silent name behind many iconic designs by the company, such as the Atomic Ball Clock (1949) and Marshmallow Sofa (1956). He also enjoyed working with paper which he found as a “versatile medium”, creating models of imaginary buildings, surreal animals, Picasso-esque figures and African inspired masks. His original and dynamic paper sculptures rose in popularity since 2013 with the book “Irving Harper: Works in Paper”.
Harper created more than 300 abstract geometric works and sculptures with paper over the course of almost 4 decades, yet never sold any of these, stating “I like to have them around. They constitute my environment and I don’t want to deprive myself of them.” After his death, in January 2016, Wright held the first auction with his works in paper. The lots in this auction are directly from Harper’s estate, which is a rare opportunity for both the seasoned and beginner collectors.
Another highlight from the auction is a very rare special-order version of the classic 670 lounge and 671 ottoman by Charles & Ray Eames, featuring yellow chartreuse leather and elegant rosewood, produced of course by no other than the famous Herman Miller company. This piece is from 1956, the exact year this design was released, after years of development by the husband and wife designer duo. Examples of this design are in museum collections throughout the globe, including the MoMA in New York. The ultimate American design icon, the 670 lounge and 671 ottoman offers style and comfort to any interior, while the unique yellow of this example makes it even more original.