The Paris Design sale on 3 May brings together a magnificent collection of crafted objects, created by some of the most celebrated designers of the 20th century. While the sale includes many kinds of furniture, objet d'art, ceramics, lighting and more, here we pay closer attention to a selection of the chairs from the auction catalogue.
Chairs have been used since antiquity, with one of the earliest examples being the Greek Klismos of the 5th century B.C. But chairs with arms and backrests tended to be reserved for the elite as a means of demonstrating privilege, with the majority of sitters using stools or benches. It wasn't until the 16th century that chairs became common, with the Renaissance playing a major role in making chairs less of a status symbol and more accessible to ordinary people.
The 20th century was by far the more fruitful when it came to chair design, seeing the advent of new technologies, new materials like metal and molded plastic, and new designs like folding chairs, recliners, television chairs and more.
1. Pair Of PJ-SI-59-B Chairs. Estimate €15,000–20,000.
Pierre Jeanneret was a Swiss architect, and cousin to Charles Edouard Jeanneret — better known by his pseudonym, Le Corbusier. Much of the furniture Pierre Jeanneret created was part of the major project to develop the Indian city of Chandigarh that he worked on with Le Corbusier in the 1950s, these chairs included. Trying to combine a modern spirit with traditional Indian handicraft, he used locally available materials like teak and cane to create simple but stylish designs.
2. Cuellar Armchair And Ottoman. Estimate €70,000–100,000.
Born in Paris in 1878, Ruhlmann's parents owned a painting and contracting business. He spent his childhood learning his father's trade, and gradually moved into designing furniture of his own, first exhibiting his work in 1910. Despite taking strong influences from 18th century furniture, his work reflected the Art Nouveau cues of the time. Many of his pieces used such high quality materials that he sold them for less than they cost him to create.
3. Chaise Longue Basculante. Estimate €120,000–180,000.
The Chaise Longue Basculante was conceived in 1927 from a series of drawings by Le Corbusier representing nine ways to sit. He hired Charlotte Perriand, who was working on the wholly new concept of metallic furniture design, in order to develop and realise his ideas, also partnering with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret. The Machine à repos (resting machine) is one of the icons of 20th-century decorative arts.
CLICK HERE to view the full sale catalogue.