Phillips Announces Highlights from the Spring Design Auction in London

  • LONDON, United Kingdom
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  • April 20, 2022

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Magdalene Odundo b. 1950 ‘Untitled’, 1987 Estimate: £70,000-90,000
Image Courtesy of Phillips

Phillips Announces Highlights from the Spring Design Auction in London


Sale on 12 May to be Led by Magdalene Odundo and to Feature a Selection of Important Art Deco and Art Nouveau Works, Exceptional

Pre- and Post-War Italian and French Design, as well as Outstanding Examples of Scandinavian Craftsmanship and Contemporary Design

Phillips has announced highlights ahead of the London Design auction on 12 May. Included among the ceramics to be offered in this sale are works by Magdalene Odundo, Elizabeth Joulia, Georges Jouve, and Hans Coper. Highlights of French design include works by Jean-Michel Frank, Jean Prouvé, and Pierre Legrain. Exceptional examples of Pre- and Post-War Italian Design include works by Osvaldo Borsani and Lucio Fontana, Gino Sarfatti, Ico Parisi, Gio Ponti, and Carlo Mollino. Scandinavian craftsmanship is represented by two exceptionally rare sofas, one designed by Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel, and one designed by Finn Juhl. Contemporary design is led by Jeroen Verhoeven and Ron Arad, among others. Comprising 156 lots, the auction preview will go online from 22 April and on view to the public from 6 May at Phillips London galleries on Berkeley Square until the auction on 12 May at 2pm.


Domenico Raimondo, Senior Director, Head of Department, Europe and Senior International Specialist, said

“We are delighted to present our Spring auction in London. Featuring an extraordinary selection, from the Post-War designs of Finn Juhl, Gino Sarfatti, and Gio Ponti, through to the ceramics of Elizabeth Joulia and Magdalene Odundo, this sale celebrates exceptional and rare material that has never appeared on the market before. This carefully curated selection showcases important provenance and high quality craftmanship from throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the preview exhibition which will be open to the public from 6 May ahead of our Design auction on 12 May.”


Leading the sale is a Magdalene Odundo vase made of burnished and carbonised terracotta and dating from 1987.  Odundo emerged onto the art scene after her groundbreaking MA show at the Royal College of Art in 1982. The present work is an exceptional example of the artist’s early work. A distinctive balanced round base supports an upper body which flares out, defined by two delicate ribs running up to an oval‐shaped rim. The rim is folded inwards, creating an almond shape which frames the interior cavity. Looking down on the piece from above it reveals a contrasting geometry of a pointed oval floating above the circular base. This geometry and exploration of form and shape is characteristic of Odundo’s work and presents collectors with a rare example to acquire one of the artist’s early pieces. 

Included in the selection of French ceramics from a private collection to be offered in the London Design auction is a monumental sculpture designed by Elisabeth Joulia. Made in 1955 and acquired from Joulia’s La Borne studio in 1978 by Alan Grizot, this sculpture was later acquired by Pierre Staudenmeyer, who bought the piece at auction in Paris in 1991. Joulia’s biomorphic silhouettes, reminiscent of ancient monolithic statues, are playful and confronting all at once, with raised arms which suffice to animate deliberately crude bases.  The present work, at once rough in materiality and soft in form, is undoubtedly the most accomplished expression of this period in the artist’s oeuvre.


A further highlight of the selection of French ceramics from a private collection is a unique sculpture designed circa 1959 by Georges Jouve. Born in 1910, Jouve attended the prestigious École Boulle in Paris, before he was captured by the Germans during World War II. The artist subsequently escaped to a village in the South of France where he continued his studies, observing local potters at work in their studios. After the war Jouve returned to Paris where he set up his studio and went on to exhibit in art fairs all over the world. Jouve’s unique style blends imaginative forms with the time-honoured sculpting methods and techniques native to the potters’ villages of the South of France.

A notable French highlight of the sale is a unique table lamp designed by Jean-Michel Frank. A lamp carved from one piece of rock crystal, this rare work was originally acquired by the family of Alice Cerf and has remained in the same family ever since. The present work is a brilliant example of Frank’s skill at taking a rough, coarse, and raw material and transforming it into a luxurious and beautiful object. Rarely appearing on the market or offered at auction, the last lamp of this series was sold at Phillips in December 2018. 

An original condition rare lidded tabouret designed by Pierre Legrain is a further highlight of the sale. The only known example of this model in existence, this tabouret has remained in the same collection since 2006, when it first appeared on the market. Since that time, an archival image has come to light featuring one such example of this tabouret present in the boudoir of Madame Jeanne Tachard. A passionate collector and patron of the most renowned Art Deco designers, Tachard was one of the few patrons for whom Legrain would design whole rooms.


Leading the Italian highlights of this sale is a rare side table designed by Osvaldo Borsani and Lucio Fontana. The architect and artist worked closely on several projects. Their synergy resulted in globally acclaimed and sought-after integrations of furniture and artwork. This concept is clearly embodied in the present side table where the vertical brass element supporting the glass top is wrapped in a waving cascade of painted wooden drapery. This artistic collaboration resulted in a series of furniture, examples of which have been offered in previous auctions at Phillips, notably a wall-mounted console which achieved a world record when it sold at auction for over £1 million in 2020.

A further highlight of the sale is Gino Sarfatti’s Rare adjustable chandelier. A radical celebration of movement, the chandelier is a striking composition of seven brass tubes painted in vivid colours which spring outwards from a brass cylindrical mast, revealing the dynamism at the heart of Sarfatti’s lighting designs.  Post-War Italy was characterized by change, a movement towards the new, challenging traditional ideas of design. During these years Sarfatti found fertile ground to bring to life the many creative theories he conceived of before the war without any stylistic hesitation.

Further highlights of Italian design to feature in the sale include works by Ico Parisi, Gio Ponti, and Carlo Mollino, among others.

Included amongst the Scandinavian design highlights of the sale is a rare two-seater sofa designed by Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel. The couple worked together closely, creating designs inspired by nature and the desire to transcend functionality, inventing pieces that were intended to be both useful and beautiful. Executed by master cabinetmaker Knud Willadsen in 1949, less than ten sofas in this design were ever produced, of which one is the present work.

A further highlight of the Scandinavian design pieces to be offered at auction this May is a rare three-seater sofa designed by Finn Juhl. The present work designed by Juhl and executed by master cabinetmaker Søren Willadsen. Juhl was one of the first designers to emphasize the separation between the load-bearing framework and the person-bearing seating parts, an emphasis made evident in the present work.  There is a structural frame, almost like scaffolding, and then there are the soft parts that meet the human body. The seat and backrest are also two different colours, highlighting that they are independent components of the whole design.


Contemporary highlights of the sale include a desk designed by Jeroen Verhoeven in 2010. This striking, limited-edition, piece is a testament to the Dutch designer’s vision, creativity, and determination. The thoughtful combination of highly skilled craftmanship and carefully programmed technical processes is visible throughout the work. Constructed from 150 individual steel panels joined by 2,300 bolts, the present work is entirely polished steel, a typically industrial material whose seemingly inflexible nature is subverted by using it to create flowing curves and undulating forms.

Auction: 12 May 2022 2pm BST

Auction viewing: 6 May - 12 May

Location: 30 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6EX

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