Cultured Magazine

December 2011

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Past as Prologue At Design Miami/ each piece of work has had a life of its own. Here we shed light on some pieces with intriguing provenances. BY LINDA O'KEEFFE The star of the French pavilion's VIP suite at the 1970 Exposition Universal in Osaka was Pierre Paulin's witty, sculptural Amphis sofa. The Mobilier National commissioned—and still claims—the original, but Demisch Danant owns a sample from a limited 1970s production with three 16-foot-long, undulating 'boudin' pillows sheathed in stretchy jersey. Paulin conceived the sofa's hinged, re-configurable metal base as modular and envisioned linking several together to form an infinitely long, snaking banquette. When Evan Snyderman, from R 20th Century, eventually tracked down a SoHo loft containing a library designed and built by Wendell Castle, the space was about to be sold and sub-divided. After lengthy negotiations Snyderman acquired and dismantled the room—an un- documented, 1980 commission by dealer Sandy Milliken, who cham- pioned Castle's work long before he became known as the father of the art furniture movement. The piece de resistance is undoubtedly the library's monolithic sliding door: carved out of Australian lace wood, its expressionistic relief nods to the classic German film "The Cabinet of Doctor Calligari." The graphic, birch wood serving platters designed by the revered Finnish craftsman Tapio Wirkkala showcase a layered laminate 'air- plane veneer' technique that has the visual complexity of woven tex- tile. A particularly coveted tray in Mark McDonald's inventory—no more than four exist—features a hole, a technical tour de force con- sidering the piece's deep contour. Acquired at auction, Wirkkala pre- sented it to Stanley Marcus in the 1950s to thank him for promoting Scandinavian design in his Dallas store. Poul Kjaerholm is renowned for designing seductively reductive furniture that seamlessly marries craft techniques to industrial pro- duction, sucha as the prototype three-legged, molded aluminum shell chair purchased by Galerie Dansk Mobelkunst directly from Kjaer- holm's sister. Viewed as significant in the trajectory of the designer's work, its production in 1953 enabled Kjaerholm to resolve and launch his iconic PK9 or Tulip dining chair seven years later. Throughout his career the French sculptor/designer Alain Douil- lard has worked with plaster, stone and wood but metal allowed his true voice to emerge. The Magen H. Gallery presents a leather up- holstered metal chair that dynamically explores the relationship be- tween geometry and negative space. Built in Douillard's Nantes studio in 1970 it exemplifies how skillfully the designer infuses tac- tility and poetry into a potentially brutal material. The playful ceramics, glassware and textiles of one of Sweden's most prolific post war designers Stig Lindberg are widely appreciated but his metal sculptures are lesser known. Hostler Burrows un- earthed an exceptional gilt metal installation that Lindberg created in 1964 for an exterior wall of the Hotel Sankt Jorgen in Malmo. Part of a larger series entitled Resan, or Journey, the three-dimensional relief work is both folkloric and abstract and as characteristically graphic as the designer's popular, functional wares. 64 CULTURED Galerie Dansk Mobelkunst bought this prototype three- legged molded aluminum chair, designed by Poul Kjaerholm, from Kjaer- holm's sister. The produc- tion in 1953 enabled Kjaerholm to create his iconic Tulip dining chair some seven years later. A limited produc- tion of Pierre Paulin's Amphis sofa includes the sample at right, now owned by Demisch Danant. The original Amphis was commissioned by The Mobilier Na- tional, who still owns it. Wendell Castle's carved Australian lace wood sliding door was acquired by R20th Century from a SoHo loft that was about to be sold.

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