3 Surprise Finds in Wright's June Design Auction

Paul Evans, George Nakashima, Harry Bertoia, Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand are but a few of the stars who will be represented in the quarterly Wright Design auction in Chicago on Thursday, June 11. And as luxury interior designers, we revere the work of these industry icons. But we’re most excited about three designers we weren’t familiar with whose work will be featured in the prestigious auction this time.

150603 JLI blog 20th Century Trio01

Work by luminaries such as Paul Evans, George Nakashima and Harry Bertoia will be featured in Wright’s quarterly Design auction.

The three designers who caught our attention are Phillip Lloyd Powell, Leo Amino and Henry Glass. Wright Senior Vice President Michael Jefferson, who unearths these fabulous, and fabulously rare, pieces and curates each auction, filled us in on these designer’s backgrounds. He also mentioned that it takes quite some time to assemble such breathtaking caches from each of these designers given the scarcity of their work.

150603 JLI blog 20th Century Powell Cabinet

Phillip Lloyd Powell’s dramatic wall-mounted cabinet sports a sculptural collage of exotic woods and reminds us of the brawny but glamorous case goods of furniture-maker Paul Evans.

Phillip Lloyd Powell is known for his “sinuous, textural furniture…hand-carved from gleaming woods,” as his 2006 New York Times obituary notes. His work reminds us of Paul Evans, and for good reason: The two men were business partners from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. Powell returned to working solo, because the company grew and he didn’t like supervising others to help produce his designs and preferred to work at a measured pace. So unlike his peers, such as George Nakashima (ironically the friend who actually urged him to start making furniture), Powell produced limited output thanks to his commitment to working alone. He barely created 1,000 pieces in his lifetime, while Nakashima is estimated to have made over 10,000.

150603 JLI blog 20th Century Tables Shelf

Impeccable workmanship characterizes this pair of slate, gilt wood and enameled steel side tables by Phillip Lloyd Powell and Paul Evans and bookshelf of carved wood and steel gilded with silver leaf by Powell alone.

The breadth and depth of the pieces for sale by artist Leo Amino “are exceptional,” says Michael. Amino was a peer of Bertoia, Noguchi and Henry Moore and has works in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and more. But the most interesting aspect of Amino’s work is its impeccable craftsmanship and intimate scale; his studio was his kitchen, explains Michael, and the size of the pieces, all about 2 feet high, reflects their origins and gives them a human scale that makes it easy to integrate them into home environments..

150603 JLI blog 20th Century sculptures

Item 173,174 and 176. These sculptures are three of the nine rare artworks by Leo Amino that will be offered in this Design auction.

Chicago industrial designer and architect Henry Glass had a prolific career designing everything from musical instruments to hotels, but many considered his Cricket chair for Brown Jordan his most innovative creation (it folds to one-inch thick). Michael notes that any pieces from Glass’s Swingline Collection for Fleetwood Furniture Company is incredibly coveted by collectors because they are so difficult to find; the pieces were designed with special mechanisms so they wouldn’t pinch children’s fingers. There’s a colorful Swingline cabinet in prime condition in this auction.

150603 JLI blog 20th Century swingline

A rare Swingline cabinet by Chicago industrial designer Henry Glass is one of the stars of this Design auction.

As luxury interior designers, we’re incredibly lucky to have Wright, one of the nation’s leading auction houses for modern and contemporary design, in Chicago. The spectacular catalogs they create for each auction serve as significant lessons in design history in their own right (no pun intended), but there’s nothing like seeing the goods firsthand. Thanks to our proximity to Wright (a five-minute cab ride from our office), we’re planning on doing just that and hope you follow our lead. Read more about the June 11 Wright Design auction here.

150603 JLI blog 20th Century Chair Otto

One rarity we couldn’t resist including here is a Hans Wegner Bear chair with a matching ottoman. Very few of these chairs, which are larger than his Papa Bear chair, were produced and this one was acquired directly from the maker in Copenhagen and sports its original leather upholstery.

04 Jun 2015

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