Early Marc Newson Memphis Prototype Chair at Sydney Auction


by Nicholas Forrest

Published: August 5, 2013

A unique handmade Marc Newson prototype chair from 1982 is one of the highlights of the upcoming August 7 Shapiro 20/21c Art and Design auction in Sydney. Inspired by the Memphis design movement, the geometric shapes and vibrant colour scheme of the Newson chair are the epitome of the post-modernist Memphis design methodology.

The historically significant Newson chair is being sold with a very reasonable estimate of AU$4,000 - $6,000 and will be included in the forthcoming Marc Newson catalogue raisonné being prepared by Galerie Kreo in Paris. Given its rarity and significance, the chair is undoubtedly worthy of being included in a museum collection.

The auction record for a work by Newson was achieved with another of his chair designs, the “Lockheed Lounge.” Phillips de Pury sold the prototype of Newson’s iconic “Lockheed Lounge” at a New York sale in 2010 for US$2,098,500 against an estimate of US$1–1.5 million.

Another highlight of the August 7 sale is a spectacular “Ice Bowl” by renowned New Zealand glass artist Ann Robinson. Originally purchased at the 1988 Queensland Exposition where it was exhibited amongst other works by the artist, the cast glass bowl is being sold with an estimate of AU$8,000 - $12,000.

Fans of Grant Featherston will be spoilt for choice with a number of significant pieces by the Australian-born design pioneer featured in the Shapiro sale. “Lot 47,” a rare model 51 easy chair with original upholstery will be of particular interest to connoisseurs of fine modern furniture as will the next lot in the sale, a 1951 Contour series wing chair with burnt orange upholstery.

Also worth noting are the two rare “Copacabana” lounge chairs by the renowned Hungarian / French designer Mathieu Matégot that are being sold as lot 49 and 49a, each with an estimate of AU$5,000 - $7,000. Matégot is best known for his innovative use of steel tubing and perforated steel, both of which are features of the “Copacabana” chairs.