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 in two sales at Christie’s
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This Mama Bear chair (and the companion Papa Bear chair) alludes charmingly to the 19th-century fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
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.
Danish designer Hans Olsen opened his studio in 1953, during a boom in Danish furniture production.
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.
With reference to outer space a ‘corona’ — Latin for ‘crown’ — is defined as the atmosphere that surrounds the sun, the moon and stars.
Like many 1960s-era designs, Volther’s Corona chair reflects the contemporary fascination with space exploration.
With its use of tension wire, the Varichon Zig-Zag chair is a marvel of furniture design — and quite ahead of its time.
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.
Wegner's designs reflected his incredible talent, and made him one of the most renowned Scandinavian designers of the 20th century.
That talent is certainly apparent in his JH512 chair, whose sleek look cleverly incorporates folding elements.
American designer Ward Bennett focused on the ever-important ergonomics of design.
Bennett was championed for his use of industrial materials such as aluminium, and his creations were never lavish or over-the-top.
The Grasshopper lounge chair designed by Preben Fabricius and Jorgen Kastholm is clearly influenced by Eero Saarinen’s 1950 model of the same name.
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.
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.
With its light silhouette and sleek lines, the FK 82 perfectly illustrates the advantage of using steel in furniture design.
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.
The carved faux bamboo supports on this Campaign chair are characteristic of its in-house designs, which often looked to the past for inspiration.