Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chair Passion

When Marc Newson’s groundbreaking aluminium sofa, Lockheed Lounge, was sold at auction for over a million dollars, it ended up as the star attraction in the first exhibition at a gallery not far from where I live in New York. This is no ordinary art gallery, although it is in New York’s art district, Chelsea. We’re talking about Sabastian + Barquet who specialize in twentieth century design. A visit to this showplace is a design history lesson. I have always been a huge fan of twentieth century furniture and have managed to collect a number of classic chairs including How High The Moon by Shiro Kuramata, Eero Aarnio's Bubble chair, and a couple of great examples by the Eames. I have a special passion for chairs, as does my good friend Jorge Oller down in Costa Rica. I think it is because of the intimate and yet shared associations they have with people’s lives – more than tables, lamps or sideboards. The scrape of a chair being pulled up to the family dining table is one of the most evocative sounds in my world. I also love the ghostly presence of previous owners adding a frisson of mystery. Ramis Barquet has an amazing collection of more than 700 pieces of modern furniture, but the gold standard of collecting in the field has got to be the Vitra Design Museum near Basel, Switzerland. There, in a perfect Frank Gehry designed building, you can see even more of the best of modern furniture design.