From minimal to maximum. From the iconic to the outrageous. Auction highlights and previews, design trends, photos, stories, philosophies and the allure of vintage modern design and decorative arts.


John Thain and the $1000 wastebasket

Fornasetti wastebasket

Investing in 20th century design makes good business sense. Hundreds of ‘dealers’ have ‘democratized’ interior design and collecting. The 20th century design industry moves millions of dollars of wealth in a gray market between buyers and sellers at all demographics. Investing in modern design is relatively inexpensive (compared to fine antiques and art) and John Thain’s $1000 wastebasket, however absurd, is likely more profitable and recession-proof as any investment his stockbrokers sold to investors.
20th century designers like Piero Fornasetti, Gio Ponti, Aldo Tura, Carlo Mollino and Paul Evans all produced wastebaskets and bins for various manufacturers, and market values for these pieces (especially by Mollino) have steadily risen in the past decade beating returns from both the Dow and the S&P 500.
Just as market makers (like Thain’s Merrill Lynch) offer liquidity for stocks and bonds, auction houses like Sotheby’s, Wright and Philips and e-Bay act as design market makers for 20th century design. Common household items designed by famous designers and architects sell at auction and in retail galleries for exceptionally high prices; wastebaskets, candleholders, ashtrays, flatware and kitchen accessories.
For investment purposes we like anything by Alessi, Swid Powell and Rosenthal. Pieces by Phillippe Starck, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Pierre Cardin, Gabriella Crespi and Ettore Sottsass are also likely to appreciate at a fast beta and remain in high demand by both dealers and collectors.

(r: Ettore Sottsass, l: Paolo Portoghesi, both for Alessi)


Len Janklow Op Art Acrylic Sculpture 1970's Modern

Len Janklow (American 1919-2006) created kinetic mixed media works from his home studio in Tamarac, Florida in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. This is a unique piece purchased directly from the Artist shortly before his death in 2006. It stands on a lacquered illuminated pedestal also by Janklow.


Le Corbusier on Mass Production 1927

"A great epoch has begun.
There exists a new spirit.
Industry, overwhelming us like a flood which rolls on towards its destined ends, has furnished us with new tools adapted to this new epoch, animated by the new spirit.
Economic law inevitably governs our acts and our thoughts.
The problem of the house is the problem of the epoch. The equilibrium of society today depends upon it. Architecture has for its first duty, in this period of renewal, that of bringing about a revision of the constituent elements of the house.
Mass production is based on analysis and experiment.
Industry on the grand scales must occupy itself with building and establish the elements of the house on a mass production basis.
We must create the mass production spirit.
The spirit of constructing mass production houses.
The spirit of living in mass production houses.
The spirit of conceiving mass production houses.
If we eliminate from our hearts and minds all dead concepts in regard to the house, and look at the question from a critical and objective point of view, we shall arrive at the 'House Machine,' the mass production house, healthy (and morally so, too) and beautiful in the same way that the working told and instruments which accompany our existence are beautiful.
Beautiful also with all the animation that the artist's sensibility can add top severe and pure functioning elements." 
-Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, 1927