French & Continental Furniture

A Table Fit for Fashion Legend Karl Lagerfeld

By Sotheby's

This incredible table, a unique piece which features in the Design sale in Paris on 3 May, has previously taken pride of place in the homes of not one, but two design legends.


Commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld from artist François-Xavier Lalanne, this table was installed in the fashion icon’s apartment on the rue de l’Université in Paris, where it was placed alongside his collection of Art Deco works. The table is dated 64 and was delivered in 1966, the same year the artist designed his Serpent cushion, remote-controlled Tortoise and his famous Ostriches bar.


This piece, envisioned and conceived with the sole aim of satisfying its famous sponsor, engages in a discourse between the fashion designer and the sculptor.

Lagerfeld required a movable tray, and Lalanne responded by conceiving a tray with an adjustable incline. The artist went further and designed containers in glass and metal for brushes and pencils and a wide surface to prepare gouaches and watercolours in opaline, enshrined in subtle brown leather.

He included a light source so the designer could work at night and most importantly he integrated a sphere in which Lagerfeld could store his equipment.

In the mid-1970s, Karl Lagerfeld relinquished the table to another enlightened collector: Jacques Grange. The famous decorator installed his new acquisition under the large glass roof in his apartment in the 6th arrondissement, where he used it continually until the 1980s. Grange said of the table: “François-Xavier Lalanne’s drawing table provided me with beautiful inspirations and pleasures in my early years. I hope it will provide the same thing to its new acquirer."


With this piece, François-Xavier Lalanne affirms that a true sculpture, and more importantly a work of art, can also possess functional details. Here he displays his desire to return to sculpture, too long sacralised according to him, with a more familiar dimension and a functional use.

Today we observe it and also use it, just as Karl Lagerfeld and Jacques Grange did.

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