A Choir of Soloists: Design First in Architectural Digest


Unique works of art and rare editions from Aalto to Zobernig are brought together in Dorotheum’s “Design First” auction on 27 March. Oliver Jahn, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, has combined a selection of these eccentric pieces to create a coherent whole.


Lot 61: Rare Cocktail Cabinet, designed by Josef Frank, €22,000 – €30,000

Viennese architect Josef Frank aimed to achieve “beauty for everyone”, even in areas that were hidden. His angular, discreet cocktail cabinet made from walnut wood was created in around 1927/30. It has hidden inner shelves of marbled cream glass, and can be lit from within.

Lot 74, €4,000 - €7,000

Lot 74: “Parrots” Chair, Carla Tolomeo, €4,000 – €7,000

Pieces of furniture by the Italian artist Carla Tolomeo are capricious sculptures. This is the case with “Parrots”, a unique piece from 2008 made from silk velvet, sequins and gold edging. The asking price is 4,000 to 7,000 euros.

Lot 78: “Optical” Chest of Drawers and Wall Mirror, designed by Carlo Rampazzi, €16,000 – €24,000

Carlo Rampazzi designed the hand-painted wall mirror “Optical”, made from wood and goatskin, for Tura in 1978. A matching chest of drawers will also be going under the hammer. The estimate for the mirror? 16,000 to 24,000 euros.

Lot 25: “Trying to Look Good Limits My Life”, Stefan Sagmeister & Matthias Ernstberger, €12,000 – €20,000

Someone will say it eventually: “Trying to look good limits my life”. That’s just one of the soundbites from Stefan Sagmeister’s “Happy Show” (2004, digital print on Sintra board). The entire collection of images from the series is estimated to reach 12,000 to 20,000 euros.

Lot 22: “Box in Four Movements” Chair, designed by Ron Arad, €40,000 – €55,000

One box, three hinges, four elements. Ron Arad’s “Box in Four Movements”, made from cherry wood (1994, limited to 20 pieces), is as pared-back as its name. “It’s completely possible to imagine the flexibility of this chair,” the designer says. “But you only realise how softly its padding is when you sit on it.” Estimates range from 40,000 to 55,000 euros.

Lot 57: Circular table from the Purkersdorf Sanatorium games room, designed by Josef Hoffmann, €10,000 – €18,000

This oak table (10,000 to 18,000 euros) with glass inserts, a square base plate and hammered white metal fittings was designed by Josef Hoffmann in 1903 for a games room in the Purkersdorf Sanatorium. It was produced by the Wiener Werkstätte.

Lot 67: Pendant light for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, designed by Arne Jacobsen, €5,000 – €10,000

Unlike his renowned chair, Arne Jacobsen’s pendant light fitting, created in 1957 for the panoramic salon at the “SAS Royal Hotel” in Copenhagen, was never mass-produced. This item was owned by the hotel’s former manager, Alberto Kappenberger, and is expected to reach 5,000 to 10,000 euros.

Lot 56: Carpet from the Villa Primavesi in Hinterbrühl, €12,000 – €18,000

Maria Likarz-Strauss, a designer at the Wiener Werkstätte, probably created this wool rug (12,000 to 18,000 euros) in 1925 for the Villa Primavesi. It was owned by the family until 2018.

Lot 53: A small dresser from the Villa Primavesi in Hinterbrühl, €12,000 – €18,000

This small sideboard is also an heirloom from the villa, likely made in 1905/7 by Anton Pospischil. This piece of furniture features a concave front, and was made from pear wood and black marble. It has a mirrored rear wall, and the shelf can be pulled out (12,000 to 18,000 euros).

Lot 81: Set of 4 “Paradise Chairs” from the “Peace Chair” project, Xaver Sedelmeier, €12,000 – €18,000

“When you’re sitting, the ‘peace chair’ gives you support and good posture,” says Reiner X. Sedelmeier. His chair, made from steel and wood, was made in 2018 for the Vienna Art Week and covered in Raf Simons’ Kvadrat textiles. Estimate: 12,000 to 18,000 euros.

Design First

27 March, 5pm in Palais Dorotheum, Vienna.

Preview exhibition opens 19 March.

Text Florian Siebeck, Photo Thomas Skroch

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