Design of the Century - Personal Collection of John Nyquist to Highlight Fall Auction of 20th Century Furniture & Decorative Arts

  • LOS ANGELES, California
  • /
  • August 07, 2009

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Bonhams is pleased to celebrate the esteemed career of Nyquist in his 50th year as a designer by offering six pieces from his Long Beach, California, home.

Bonhams & Butterfields will hold its Fall auction of 20th Century Decorative Arts on September 29, 2009. The Los Angeles sale will feature a diverse group of Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern, with a focus on Contemporary Studio artists and early California design. Highlights will include an important collection of furnishings from the personal collection of California Studio Craftsman, John Nyquist.

Bonhams is pleased to celebrate the esteemed career of Nyquist in his 50th year as a designer by offering six pieces from his Long Beach, California home that date back half a century. All items on offer bear the designer’s signature brand, a hieroglyphic chair created by a "J" stacked on top of an "N". As a designer, Nyquist favors exotic materials and richly colored wool fabrics for each of his handcrafted pieces creating a human connection between the materials and the user which does not typically occur in mass produced furnishings.

Nyquist was born in 1936 and raised near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Son of a first-generation Swedish American, the family's original home was a log cabin without the comforts of electricity. Determined never to be cold again following his return from World War II, Nyquist’s father moved his family to the warm climate of Long Beach, California. The future craftsman went on to study art and industrial design at California State University, Long Beach.

Similar to the late Sam Maloof and the late Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Nyquist became a devotee of the "California roundover" movement which is characterized by a combination of sculpted edges, curved surfaces and organic sloping lines. As a designer he was profoundly impacted by Charles and Henry Greene’s Gamble House, 1908 and acknowledges other influences in his work such as Shaker furniture and Scandinavian modern as well as works by sculptor Henry Moore.

Highlights to be offered from the private collection of the California craftsman John Nyquist include two items that were originally exhibited in the California Design Ten exhibition of 1968. They are an Indian rosewood ottoman (est. $2,500-3,500) and a walnut magazine rack (est. $2,000-3,000). The now legendary California Design shows were a series of 13 exhibitions held at the Pasadena Art Museum (now Norton Simon) between the years of 1954 and 1976 that showcased the best of California Design. In addition, the group includes two prototypes, an ebonized walnut rocking chair with Larsen fabric from 2002 (est. $6,000-9,000) and a walnut armchair with black leather dated 2005 (est. $3,500-4,500). Also included is a walnut ladder back rocking chair with Larsen fabric (est. $5,000-8,000); and a lovely teak, Brazilian rosewood and ivory jewelry box (est. $3,000-5,000).

Auction highlights will also include exquisite pieces with a focus on Contemporary Studio artists and California design items. Among the works offered is Primal Sun, circa 1974 a brass wall-mounted sculpture by Tony Duquette (est. $5,000-7,000); a pair of white plaster and wood nesting tables, 1970s by John Dickinson (est. $6,000-9,000); a signed walnut coffee table, 1960s by Sam Maloof (est. $7,000-9,000) and a copper and turquoise glazed pottery bowl by Beatrice Wood (est. $1,500-2,500).

Auction: September 29, 2009 at 1:00pm, Los Angeles
Preview: September 25-27, 2009, Los Angeles
Press Contact: Jannelle Grigsby,, (310) 567-7990

About Bonhams

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America and in August 2003, Goodmans, a leading Australian fine art and antiques auctioneer with salerooms in Sydney, joined the Bonhams Group of Companies. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further seven throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston in the USA; and Switzerland, France, Monaco, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 57 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, go to (01-08) For other press releases, go to

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