Take a seat — Designer chairs for modern homes

Take a seat — Designer chairs for modern homes

Over the years, LA-based antiques dealer JF Chen has assembled an exceptional collection of mid-century modern chairs by some of the world’s most famous designers. Here, a selection of highlights, offered at Christie’s

  • 1
  • Dan Johnson, Gazelle lounge chair, circa 1958

Dan Johnson, a trained architect, travelled from Los Angeles to Rome in the mid-1950s and fell in love with the Eternal City’s rich history and iconography.

Dan Johnson (1918-1979), a Gazelle lounge chair, circa 1958. 28  in (71.2  cm) high. Sold for $11,875 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Dan Johnson (1918-1979), a Gazelle lounge chair, circa 1958. 28 in (71.2 cm) high. Sold for $11,875 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Johnson's elegant, playful Gazelle lounge chair was undoubtedly inspired by the many carved facades and intricately-laid mosaics he saw in the Italian capital.

  • 2
  • A pair of African beadwork-covered armchairs, Nigeria, Yoruba-style, late 20th century

The Yoruba people of West Africa are famous for their intricate bead embroidery, particularly the making of crowns. The pieces they create are reserved for men of exceptional skill; completed works are only offered to those with whom the gods are believed to communicate, such as kings or priests.

A pair of African beadwork-covered armchairs, Nigeria, Yoruba-style, late 20th century. 40 in (102 cm) high. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection Online, 7-14 February 2018

A pair of African beadwork-covered armchairs, Nigeria, Yoruba-style, late 20th century. 40 in (102 cm) high. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection Online, 7-14 February 2018

This pair of beadwork armchairs draws from traditional Yoruba techniques, with single strands threaded one at a time and intricately placed to create the larger design.

  • 3
  • Charles and Ray Eames, ES 106 chaise longue, designed 1968

In his 2011 book Collecting Eames, Joel Chen catalogued his extensive inventory of works by Charles and Ray Eames, the husband-and-wife design team.

Charles (1907-1978) and Ray Eames (1912-1989), an ES106 chaise longue, designed 1968. 28½  in (72.4  cm) high, 75  in (190.5  cm) wide, 17  in (45.7  cm) deep. Sold for $3,750 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Charles (1907-1978) and Ray Eames (1912-1989), an ES106 chaise longue, designed 1968. 28½ in (72.4 cm) high, 75 in (190.5 cm) wide, 17 in (45.7 cm) deep. Sold for $3,750 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

This ES 106 design in particular is also known as the ‘Billy Wilder chaise’, after the Oscar-winning director, who was a friend of the couple.

  • 4
  • Werther Toffoloni and Piero Palarge, Hoop chair, designed 1972

Werther Toffoloni (1930-2017) and Piero Palarge, a Hoop chair, designed 1972. 42¼ in (107.3 cm) high. Sold for $2500, 14 Feb 2018, Online

Werther Toffoloni (1930-2017) and Piero Palarge, a Hoop chair, designed 1972. 42¼ in (107.3 cm) high. Sold for $2500, 14 Feb 2018, Online

The Hoop chair, a collaboration between Italian designer Werther Toffoloni and Piero Palarge, reflects Toffoloni’s personal philosophy: the need to balance a pleasing aesthetic with a functional design.

  • 5
  • Hans Wegner, Mama Bear chair, designed 1954

This Mama Bear  chair (and the companion Papa Bear  chair) alludes charmingly to the 19th-century fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Hans Wegner (1914-2007), a Mama Bear chair, designed 1954. 40¾ in (1035 cm) high. Sold for $3750, 14 Feb 2018, Online

Hans Wegner (1914-2007), a Mama Bear chair, designed 1954. 40¾ in (103/5 cm) high. Sold for $3750, 14 Feb 2018, Online

The chairs are characteristic of Hans Wegner’s design principle of aligning form and function, as evidenced here in the deep seat, slightly angled back and sculptural frame.

  • 6
  • Hans Olsen, pair of Bikini lounge chairs, designed 1961

Danish designer Hans Olsen opened his studio in 1953, during a boom in Danish furniture production.

Hans Olsen (1902-1983), a pair of Bikini lounge chairs, designed 1961. Each 28¾  in (73  cm) high. Sold for $6,875 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Hans Olsen (1902-1983), a pair of Bikini lounge chairs, designed 1961. Each 28¾ in (73 cm) high. Sold for $6,875 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

If he is less famous today than some of his contemporaries, several of his designs — such as the Bikini chairs — have become iconic due to his use of lightweight, malleable laminated wood.

  • 7
  • Poul Volther, Corona lounge chair, designed 1964

With reference to outer space a ‘corona’ — Latin for ‘crown’ — is defined as the atmosphere that surrounds the sun, the moon and stars.

Poul Volther (1923-2001), a Corona lounge chair, designed 1964. 35½ in (90.2 cm) high, 34½ in (87.6 cm) wide, 25½ in (64.8 cm) deep. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection Online, 7-14 February 2018

Poul Volther (1923-2001), a Corona lounge chair, designed 1964. 35½ in (90.2 cm) high, 34½ in (87.6 cm) wide, 25½ in (64.8 cm) deep. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection Online, 7-14 February 2018

Like many 1960s-era designs, Volther’s Corona chair reflects the contemporary fascination with space exploration.

  • 8
  • Jacques-Henri Varichon, Zig-Zag chair, designed 1969

With its use of tension wire, the Varichon Zig-Zag chair is a marvel of furniture design — and quite ahead of its time.

Jacques-Henri Varichon (b. 1945), a Zig-Zag chair, designed 1969. 28¾  in (73  cm) high. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection on 13 February 2018  at Christie’s in New York

Jacques-Henri Varichon (b. 1945), a Zig-Zag chair, designed 1969. 28¾ in (73 cm) high. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Models were made with aluminium tubes and a webbing of wires that supported either a canvas or leather seat. Perhaps surprisingly, the chair is sturdy and quite comfortable.

  • 9
  • Hans Wegner, folding chair, Model JH512, designed 1949

Wegner's designs reflected his incredible talent, and made him one of the most renowned Scandinavian designers of the 20th century.

Hans Wegner (1914-2007), a folding chair, model JH512, designed 1949. 29¾  in (75.5  cm) high. Sold for $3,750 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Hans Wegner (1914-2007), a folding chair, model JH512, designed 1949. 29¾ in (75.5 cm) high. Sold for $3,750 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

That talent is certainly apparent in his JH512 chair, whose sleek look cleverly incorporates folding elements.

  • 10
  • Ward Bennett, a pair of lounge chairs, circa 1965

American designer Ward Bennett focused on the ever-important ergonomics of design.

Ward Bennett (1918-2003), a pair of lounge chairs, circa 1965. 27¼ in (69.2  cm) high. Sold for $6,250 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Ward Bennett (1918-2003), a pair of lounge chairs, circa 1965. 27¼ in (69.2 cm) high. Sold for $6,250 on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Bennett was championed for his use of industrial materials such as aluminium, and his creations were never lavish or over-the-top.

  • 11
  • Preben Fabricius and Jorgen Kastholm, Grasshopper lounge chair, designed 1968

The Grasshopper lounge chair designed by Preben Fabricius and Jorgen Kastholm is clearly influenced by Eero Saarinen’s 1950 model of the same name.

Preben Fabricus (1931-1984) and Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007), a Grasshopper chaise longue, designed 1968. 32¼  in (82  cm) high, 28½  in (72.4  cm) wide, 58 in (147.3  cm) deep. Estimate This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection on 13 February 2018  at Christie’s in New York

Preben Fabricus (1931-1984) and Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007), a Grasshopper chaise longue, designed 1968. 32¼ in (82 cm) high, 28½ in (72.4 cm) wide, 58 in (147.3 cm) deep. Estimate: This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

But the 1968 design updates Saarinen’s chair with the use of chrome-plated steel, and its playful, slender profile is more evocative of the eponymous insect.

  • 12
  • Preben Fabricius and Jorgen Kastholm, FK 82 lounge chair, designed 1968

Fabricius and Kastholm studied together at Copenhagen’s School of Interior Design. In their design practice the pair used materials such as steel and leather rather than the ubiquitous wood found in much contemporary Danish design.

Preben Fabricius (1931-1984) and Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007), an FK 82 lounge chair, designed 1968. 31.5 in (80 cm) high, 32 in (81.3 cm) wide, 27½ in (69.8 cm) deep. Sold for $3000, 14 Feb 2018, Online

Preben Fabricius (1931-1984) and Jørgen Kastholm (1931-2007), an FK 82 lounge chair, designed 1968. 31.5 in (80 cm) high, 32 in (81.3 cm) wide, 27½ in (69.8 cm) deep. Sold for $3000, 14 Feb 2018, Online

With its light silhouette and sleek lines, the FK 82 perfectly illustrates the advantage of using steel in furniture design.

  • 13
  • Leather and ebonised folding Campaign chair, second half 20th century, possibly Maison Jansen

This folding chair is typical of the furniture produced by renowned Paris-based interior design firm Maison Jansen. From its inception in 1880 and for more than a century afterwards, the firm was synonymous with international glamour and luxury.

A leather and ebonised folding Campaign chair, second half 20th century, possibly Maison Jansen. 36  in (91.4  cm) high. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection on 13 February 2018  at Christie’s in New York

A leather and ebonised folding Campaign chair, second half 20th century, possibly Maison Jansen. 36 in (91.4 cm) high. This lot was offered in the JF Chen Collection on 13 February 2018 at Christie’s in New York

The carved faux bamboo supports on this Campaign chair are characteristic of its in-house designs, which often looked to the past for inspiration.