Important Design

Important Design

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 136. MAURICE-CLAUDE VIDILI | SPHÈRE D’ISOLATION, MODEL NO. S2 .


Auction Closed

July 30, 06:21 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 USD

Lot Details




circa 1971

outfitted with a secondary power system, integrated fluorescent lighting, integrated shelving system, later smartphone-controlled Pioneer HI-FI speakers, a portable table lamp, two seat cushions and a window

produced by Plastiques de Bourgogne, Saint-Rémy, France

fiberglass-coated polyester, methacrylate, clear polyresin, painted steel, with leatherette foam cushions

75⅞ in. (193 cm) high including base

70⅞ in. (180 cm) diameter

Private Collection, Normandy, France, 1970s

Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2015

Plastiques de Bourgogne, commercial brochure, Saint-Rémy, France, 1971, n.p. 

L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui, no. 155, April-May 1971, p. 54

Technique et Architecture, no. 33, April 3, 1971, p. 39

“Womb with a View,” Time Magazine, May 7, 1971, p. 44

"Philippe Decelle, La Mémoire du Plastique," AD Magazine, October 2007, pp. 86-88

Anne Bony, Alexandra Midal and Richard Thommeret, The Plastic Collection, Brussels, 2015, pp. 129-131

Another example of the model is held in the permanent collections of the Art and Design Museum Atomium (A.D.A.M.), Brussels.

Few designs may be as emblematic of 1970s style as Maurice-Claude Vidili’s Sphère d’Isolation. Designed circa 1971, this multifunctional work made primarily of polyester is equipped with all the necessities of a modern office, including seating space, lighting, storage and electric outlets. The sphere was designed as a quiet and comfortable room-within-a-room, allowing its user to find shelter in a peaceful and insulated environment. In addition to serving mainly as a private office space, the sphere was meant to embrace a variety of uses, including as a quiet zone on construction sites, an independent work room in a noisy open office, a private meeting space for sales pitches in crowded exhibition halls, and even as study in a small apartment.

Described as a “retreat from the world” in a Time magazine article from 1971, the design of the sphere evokes a futuristic cocoon that very much fits into the avant-garde aesthetic of the time. In the world of architecture and design, events such as the moon landing and space exploration combined with the increasing popularity of new, widely available materials like polyester popularized a new sci-fi aesthetic. The work of up-and-coming designers like Vidili reflected their optimistic outlook on science through an exploration of the concepts of multifunctionality and plasticity. The Isolation Sphere might be the artist’s most celebrated work, whose tremendously modern concept participated in reinventing one’s approach to the private sphere and life at home in the 1970s. Its significance still resonates with the popular conscience today, at a time where many are embracing in-house retreats and imagining new ways to work from home.

Vidili's Isolation Spheres were produced starting in 1971 by Les Plastiques De Bourgogne, a company specializing in limited edition designer furniture. Three iterations of the design were conceptualized. Model No. S1, a slightly larger version of the present S2 offering, can accommodate up to four people and includes a small table and additional storage space. Model No. S3 is the outdoor version of the design, with a waterproof exterior and a closing door. Only about 28 Isolation Spheres are known to have been made, making this present lot a particularly rare opportunity for collectors to acquire an iconic and timeless work of 1970s design.