Buy rare design classic - help the Design Museum

The museum is staging two auctions of great lots from famous donors to raise money for its new home
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Early Camaleonda modular sofa, with three A+B units, designed 1970, produced 1971 by Mario Bellini. From the forthcoming Design Museum sale
Early Camaleonda modular sofa, with three A+B units, designed 1970, produced 1971 by Mario Bellini. From the forthcoming Design Museum sale

Buying a rock star’s guitar at auction is rarely seen as a selfless act of philanthropy. However, a pair of upcoming design auctions in London has managed to combine famous names with great design and a good cause.

 

Rio rocking chaise longue, circa 1978 by Oscar Niemeyer
Rio rocking chaise longue, circa 1978 by Oscar Niemeyer

To raise money for its new home, the Design Museum is staging a set of sales with London’s Philips auction house, called Time for Design. The museum director and Phaidon author Deyan Sudjic describes the lots donated by designers, galleries and curators, as being selected “for collectors as much as for museums.”

 

Untitled, 2005 by Anish Kapoor
Untitled, 2005 by Anish Kapoor

The pieces, which are split between an online sale, open until May 2, and a more conventional auction evening, to be staged at Phillips in London on April 28, are priced to match the 'moderately affluent' private individual with the low estimate for a 1990 Frank Gehry chair coming in at just £400, while the more esoteric inclusions, such as Gaetano Pesce’s 1971 UP3 polyurethane ‘pop-up’ chairs, still sealed in their vacuum packing, are matched with items with a broader appeal, such as a guitar signed by Bono, and a unique iPad Pro donated by the Apple Design Team.

 

Unique iPad Pro, iPad Smart Cover, Apple Pencil and holder, 2016 by Apple Inc
Unique iPad Pro, iPad Smart Cover, Apple Pencil and holder, 2016 by Apple Inc

In between, there are plenty of lots to suit the well-heeled design lover, including an early Alvar Aalto vase from 1937; an exquisite Rio rocking chaise longue by Oscar Niemeyer from the late 1970s; and a beautifully preserved Camaleonda modular sofa, designed in 1970 and produced 1971 by Mario Bellini; and a Herzog & de Meuron Birds Nest chandelier, originally designed for the Beijing Olympic stadium and donated by the architects themselves.

 

Birds Nest chandelier by Herzog & de Meuron, designed 2005-6, produced 2014
Birds Nest chandelier by Herzog & de Meuron, designed 2005-6, produced 2014

This last lot demonstrates just how impressive the provenance is of many of the items. The Sarah Lucas low table comes from Lucas’s London gallery, Sadie Coles; Anish Kapoor’s ellipse wall piece is a direct consignment from the artist; while the glass Thomas Heatherwick chair is from Sir Terrence Conran’s collection and Bono’s Gretsch guitar is direct from the singer himself.

 

Keep off the Glass chair, 2004, by Thomas Heatherwick
Keep off the Glass chair, 2004, by Thomas Heatherwick
 

Indeed, part of the thrill for serious bidders and window shoppers alike is working out who donated what. You can browse the online selection here and the lots for the 28 April sale here. Meanwhile, for a good backgrounder on many of these lots and more, invest in our Mario Bellini book here, our Oscar Niemeyer book here, our Alvar Aalto book here, and Deyan Sudjic's new book on Ettore Sottsass here. Happy hunting!

 

Irish Falcon Gretsch guitar courtesy of Bono
Irish Falcon Gretsch guitar courtesy of Bono


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