Shop the Mad Men look at Adam’s mid-century sale

Classic pieces from Italian and Scandi designers worth browsing at St Stephen's Green saleroom

Gio Ponti Model 516 armchairs

Gio Ponti Model 516 armchairs

 

It’s the very essence of La Dolce Vita: an enormous studio in Milan, the capital of cool, where the designers drive to work on their Lambrettas – and park the scooters right next to their desks.  

Giovanni Ponti, known as “Gio”,  is one of the towering figures of mid-century design. An architect, artist, teacher, essayist and publisher, he built Milan’s Pirelli Tower, founded the influential architecture magazine Domus, and had a hand in designing everything from cutlery to Murano glass.

One of his chairs, the Superleggera, was so light that promotional photographs featured a boy lifting it on the tip of a finger. 

Ponti’s is just one of the big names whose work features in Adam’s inaugural sale of 20th century design and contemporary art, Mid-Century Modern.

Assembled by Adam’s 20th-century specialist Nicholas Gore-Grimes, viewing begins on Friday and the sale is on Tuesday week. Among the highlights are two sets of Ponti Model 516 armchairs, one of which comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Gio Ponti archives (Lot 25, €5000-€7000) as well as his iconic take on the traditional folding games table (Lot 27, €2,700).

 Another designer whose furniture is now highly sought after is Arne Vodder.  One of the founding fathers of modern Scandinavian design, he was a cabinetmaker as well as an architect, and created a range of desks, tables, chairs and cabinets made by the Danish company Sibast which were highly successful both across Europe and in the US.

Vodder’s desks were, famously, used by the US president Jimmy Carter and the Libyan president Muammar Gadafy.  

Arne Vodder, rosewood desk with sideboard
Arne Vodder, rosewood desk with sideboard

 There are two Vodder lots in the Adam’s sale: a very rare pair of rosewood sideboards with tambour doors (Lot 11, €4,000-€6,000) and a rosewood desk with sideboard, featuring his signature playful use of colour (Lot 10, €3,000-€5,000).

1950 valet stands by Ico Parisi
1950 valet stands by Ico Parisi

Add a rosewood swivel office chair by the Italian designer Ico Parisi (Lot 17, €500-€700) – and perhaps a couple of 1950 valet stands, also by Parisi (Lot 43, €1,000-€1,500) – and you’ve bagged yourself one of the coolest home offices on the planet.

  There’s no shortage of cool among the 119 lots, whether it be of the simple, sober Danish kind: a set of six teak dining chairs by Niels Otto Moller with their original cord seats (Lot 71, €1,000-€1,500) and Nanna Ditzel’s lounge chair  (Lot 70, €800-€1,200) or the more flamboyant Italian variety: two outrageous red 1970s armchairs (Lot 33, €1,500-€2,500), a circular aluminium famed backlit mirror by Stilnovo  (Lot 40, €1,200-€1,600), or Willy Rizzo’s burr walnut sideboard with chrome trim (Lot 73, €1,200-€1,600). 

Dazzling red

The work of another Italian, Osvaldo Borsani, captures the best of both worlds: his ingenious model d70 sofa (Lot 38, €2,200-€2,800), newly upholstered in dazzling red, can be adjusted to more than 20 different positions, while a pair of lockers with glass tops (Lot 41, €4,000-€6,000) have the clean, understated look we associated with Scandinavian designs. 

Max Ingrand light, €10,000–€15,000
Max Ingrand light, €10,000–€15,000

French style also features, in the form of lights by the stained-glass artist Max Ingrand: his Model 2127 ceiling light for Fontana Arte (Lot 46, €10,000-€15,000) is unquestionably a work of art. 

Speaking of art and light, Gore-Grimes has put together a stellar collection of paintings for this sale. 

Patrick Graham, Lacken Study 2
Patrick Graham, Lacken Study 2

Most are abstracts, although there are also a number of fine portraits and still lives. There are some stunning, and massive, statement canvases:  Tony O’Malley’s The Pond 1994 (Lot 37, €12,000-€16,000) Albert Irvin’s Yeats 2008 (Lot 9, €8,000-€12,000) Hughie O’Donoghue’s Untitled (Lot 82, €8,000-€12,000), and Patrick Graham’s Lacken Study 2 (Lot 86, €7,000-€10,000).

Untitled 11 is a  slice of the serene, yet rigorous, work of the Scottish painter Callum Innes (Lot 24, €20,000-€30,000); Expansion by Newtownards-born Mark Francis (Lot 34, €10,000-€15,000) is a monochrome  exploration of the microscopic world. 

 The collection also features floor lamps – Lot 95  (€600-€1,000) is a fun French brass confection from the 1960s with a pink enamel-shade desk lamps, drinks trolleys and decorative objects such as ceramics and Murano glassware.

Adam’s, 26 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Mid-Century Modern, Tuesday November 13th, 6pm. For online catalogue, viewing times and bidding details see adams.ie