Phillips (established 1792)
New York, London, Geneva, Hong Kong

Key Personnel:
Edward Dolman (Chairman and CEO), Jean-Paul Engelen (Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art), Vanessa Hallett (Senior Director and Worldwide Head of Photographs), Nazgol Jagan (Worldwide Director of Jewels)

Marc Newson, Lockheed Lounge, c. 1990, sold for £2,434,500 in April 2015 at Phillips. Photo courtesy of Phillips.

Notable Design Lots:

  • Marc Newson, Lockheed Lounge, c. 1990, £2,434,500 – April 2015
  • Isamu Noguchi, The Goodyear Table, for A. Conger Goodyear, Old Westbury, New York, 1939, $4,450,500 – December 2014
  • Balkrishna Doshi and Le Corbusier, Managing Committee Table, Mill Owners’ Association Building, Ahmedabad, 1953-1954, $1,818,500 – December 2014

Phillips Design department offers exceptional examples of 20th and 21st century design including both functional furniture and conceptual works. They hold the world record for the most expensive design object and the most expensive Nordic design object. Each year, the auction world turns their eyes to their design auctions, with the anticipation of a new record.

They hold seasonal Design, Design Masters, and Nordic Design sales in New York and London, with works by design masters such as François-Xavier Lalanne, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Poul Henningsen, Alexandre Noll, Finn Juhl and Peter Moos and works by iconic Modernist designers Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Jean-Michel Frank, and Le Corbusier.

Phillips Design realized its highest totals ever in 2013. It is the only house to report growth year-over-year for the last six years and it more than doubled its global grossing total during a challenging period for the market.

Wright (Established 2000)

Key Personnel:
Richard Wright (President), Michael Jefferson (Senior Vice President), Brent Lewis (Director, New York), Megan Whippen (Senior Specialist, New York)

Emil Antonucci, The Four Seasons sign, sold for $120,000 in the iconic Four Seasons sale in July 2016. Photo courtesy of Wright.

Notable Design Lots:

  • Frank Gehry, Winton Guest House, Canada/USA, 1984-1987, $905,000 – May 2015
  • Jean Royére, Floor Lamp, 1960, $191,000 – November 2015
  • Emil Antonucci, The Four Seasons sign, $120,000 – July 2016

A key player in the design arena, Wright specializes in modern and contemporary design, as well as postwar and contemporary fine art. Since its establishment in 2000, Wright has sold almost 40,000 lots in auctions that cater to emerging markets, including Italian design and branded luxury. They also have a fixed price marketplace called “Wright Now” since 2005, which is a great foresight, considering the rise in the popularity of fixed price sales over auctions on the online market, according to the Hiscox report 2016.

A fairly young auction house, what makes Wright special is its exclusive focus on design, Wright’s founder and president Richard Wright says. “While many other houses have design sales, our singular focus gives us a unique position in the market. Design is our identity.” They have a strong emphasis on the online market, and a great website. Richard Wright states that they aim to communicate their story to their clients and the online and digital world allows them to curate and promote much smaller auctions than what would be justifiable in print. He adds “We can also go deeper and share more information online as the space is unlimited.”

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) (Established 1992)

May 22, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction
Isamu Noguchi, Chess Table, Herman Miller, designed 1944-1947, sold for $137,500 in May 2016. Photo courtesy of LA Modern Auctions.

Key Personnel:
Peter Loughrey (Director of Modern Design and Fine Art), Shannon Loughrey (Managing Director), Zoe Weinberg (Fine Art Specialist)

Notable Design Lots:

  • Alberto Giacometti, Lampadaire a tete de Femme, c. 1968, Bronze, $162,500 – December 2014
  • Maria Pergay, Flying Carpet daybed, Ugine-Gueugnon, designed 1968, $162,500 – December 2014
  • Isamu Noguchi, Chess Table, Herman Miller, designed 1944-1947, $137,500 – May 2016

Utilizing his modern and contemporary art expertise, Peter Loughrey—a curator, art consultant, and sometime appraiser on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow—founded LAMA more than twenty years ago. Founded in 1992, LAMA originated the auction category of Modern Art & Design. Loughrey states that they were “the first boutique auction house to combine all of the modern disciplines under one brand. Today LAMA continues to innovate and is presenting a wide range of works from a few hundred dollars up to a million. If it’s good design or important modern art, LAMA will represent it regardless of the medium, origin, or price.” The house holds estate auctions for prominent Californians, but its main source of revenue comes from its four annual auctions.

Bruun Rasmussen (Established 1948)

Key Personnel:
Jesper Bruun Rasmussen (Auction Director and Chairman), Jakob Dupont (Managing Director), Frederick Bruun Rasmussen (Director, International Valuation and Sales), Alexa Bruun Rasmussen (Director, Branding and Valuer of Antique Silver), Peter Kjelgaard Jensen (Department Head of Design and 20th century Decorative Arts)

Notable Design Lots:

  • Flemming Lassen, The Tired Man Chair, late 1930s, € 238,000 – September 2014
  • Flemming Lassen, “Flemming’s Chair”, 1938, € 120,000 + %24 Buyer’s Premium +VAT – December 2014
  • Peder Moos, A rosewood tea table, € 72,500 + 24% Buyer’s Premium + VAT – March 2014

A family owned auction house since its founding, Bruun Rasmussen is among the biggest and the best in Northern Europe. They sell a significant amount of lots, especially online, from many departments. Their website is one of the easiest and most functional to use. Moreover, it is worth keeping an eye out especially because it is possible to find exceptional examples of Danish Modern designs and CoBrA paintings for accessible prices. Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers pride themselves in providing quick and effective sale, directly towards the potential buyer wherever he or she may live in the world. When it comes to Danish design, Bruun Rasmussen is one of the best addresses with a selection of the referenced, rare, iconic designs.

Matsumoto four” coffee table by Toyo Ito & Metea (Éditeur). 2015. H: 30 cm – Surface: 100×200 cm. Sold for €121,400 in June 2016. Photo courtesy of Tajan.

Tajan (Established 1994)

Key Personnel:
Rodica Seward (Owner and Chairman), Nicolas de Moustier (General Manager), Jean-Jacques Wattel (Head of Departments)

Notable Design Lots:

  • Toyo Ito & Metea (Éditeur), “Matsumoto four” coffee table, 2015, €121,400 -June 2016
  • Line Vautrin, Mirror “rooster crest”, €115,200 – June 2015
  • Paul Evans, Free From Sculpted Bronze Wall Mounted Console, 1970s, € 124,000 September 2014

The owner of Tajan, Rodica Seward, bought it from LVMH (French multinational luxury goods corporation) in 2003 has transformed the auction house, with added focus for Modern and Contemporary Art and Design. Tajan holds a number of design auctions and events, including the ArtStudio, which puts the emphasis on innovation and creativity, bringing forward artists that are not so well known in the auction market.

Bukowskis (established 1870)
Stockholm, Helsinki

Key Personnel:
Louise Arén (CEO), Carl Barkman (Head Specialist), Anna Persson (Head of Art Department), Eva Seeman (Head of 20th 21st cc Design, Furniture, Silver & Works of Art)

Notable Design Lots:

  • Anna Petrus, Table, c. 1920, SEK 708,000
  • Josef Frank, Cabinet, c. 1937, SEK 343,000
  • Børge Mogensen, Sleigh Chair, 1950, SEK 453,250

Founded in 1870 by Polish nobleman Henryk Bukowski in Stockholm, Bukowskis is one of the leading art businesses in the Nordic region. Bukowskis Head of Design, Eva Seeman states that they are “the first in the Nordic market with large scale selling of 20th Century Design at auctions, as early as 1986.” She adds, “It is such a strong and exciting segment right now that we even have auctions entirely dedicated to design; Modern & Nordic Design and Design + Art Helsinki in November.” Their online sales appeal to a large international audience, thanks to a user friendly website and uncomplicated bidding system.

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