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On October 3, 2019, the American auction house Wright will presents “Memphis Design: The Zanone Collection at auction”. One of the largest design collections of the Memphis group will be sold at auction.
I told you, the 80s and in particular the iconic colors and shapes of the Memphis group still rock!

“It is a continuous attempt to update, to understand what is happening. It is not about remaining young, but it’s about being in tension with the world.” Ettore Sottsass

At auction in Chicago there will be the most iconic pieces of Memphis and its designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Masanori Umeda, Michele de Lucchi, Andrea Branzi, Natahlie du Pasquier, Aldo Cibic… There will be the most iconic pieces of the group like the lamp Super by Martine Bedin, Oceanic by Michele de Lucchi and his First Chair, the Casablanca wardrobe by Ettore Sottsass as well as the Diva mirror, the Carlton bookcase, beautiful glass and ceramic vases, the Tahiti lamp, Callimaco… and can’t sure to miss the Tawaraya ring by Masanori Umeda.

Wright will sell at auction the largest Memphis design collection in America and in the world alongside Karl Lagerfeld (sold at auction at Sotheby’s in 1991) and David Bowie (sold last year in London). The American collector Dennis Zanone over the years has surrounded himself with pieces by Memphis design, loving them and living them daily. The “ring” was his bed, sofas, furniture, everything in the house was from Memphis:

The Dennis Zanone’s house. Photo ©Dennis Zanone

The Dennis Zanone’s house. Photo ©Dennis Zanone

Here you can read a Dennis Zanone interview from a few years ago. I don’t know what happened in the meantime to decide to sell the whole collection.

Absolutely an auction like this is a bittersweet event: a collection of this kind takes years to create it, dedication and love. Breaking it up is certainly a pity, a loss, it should be acquire by a museum (the Zanone collection has already been exhibited in a recent exhibition in Memphis… Memphis in Memphis!) But it certainly makes the market happy .

At auction there will be not only objects, lamps, furnishings, but also jewels and ties, fabrics and shirts signed by Memphis. I would love to bid for jewels (better prices!). I would love to have the Tahiti earrings version by Sottsass or a brooch by Natalie du Pasquier or Peter Shire.

Shirt (lot number 251) and ties (lot number 192) by Memphis design

Tahiti earrings by Sottsass, brooches by Natalie du Pasquierand and Peter Shire

I love also the Santa Fe ceiling lamps by Matteo Thun!

Santa Fe ceiling lamps by Matteo Thun (lot number 250)

165 lots. You can register online and bid live.

How does an auction work?

The double price you see is the valuation, the auction will start from a starting price slightly lower or equal to the first price of the valuation and then it will go up as bids arrive. Once the lot is sold, you have to consider to add the percentage for the auction house (another percentage is agreed between the auction house and the seller).

When we talk about a design auction we talk about objects that could still be in production and on sale today, such as the Oceanic lamp by Michele de Lucchi. The description of the catalog is fundamental, here you can find every information you need. The one offered at auction is an original lamp from 1981, it has vintage labels, it was exhibited and published in the 1981 Memphis catalogue. Today you can buy it on Made in Design for € 1.367, it is certainly original by Michele de Lucchi but it is made today. Buying a piece from 1981 has a different value and price. More authentic.

Another very important thing to consider is the conditions. Condition reports can help you listing carefully every minimum flaw. If the lamp produced today is perfect, that one from 1981 can have some signs from its 38 years of life. Signs that can compromise the conservation but that certainly give a different taste. Scratches, vintage labels, small defects can have more value than a stainless object!

I am very curious to see how the auction will go, what will be the top lot (the lot that will set the record) and maybe unsold lots (will there be any? I doubt it!).
You can follow Wright’s live auction even without bidding, just register on-line!
Appointment then on 3 October at 7pm Italian time!

Things to do after reading this post and seeing the auction catalog:

Look around at parents and friends’ homes, it is not so unlikely that you will spot some original Memphis pieces, they could be there waiting for you directly from the 80s! Maybe the “Enorme” phone… do you know it was designed by Sottsass?! It was so popular back in the days!

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Dennis Zanone
1 year ago

Thank you for posting…well done. Dennis Zanone

Dennis Zanone
1 year ago
Reply to  gucki

Alessandra, thanks again for promoting the design and auction to your Italian readers. I sent a link to it to Wright and told him it was a well detailed blog post more so than some others. I am retiring so I’ve decided to sell my houseful of Memphis design that has been here for thirty years. It’s time to move on and let others enjoy the pieces. It is nerve-wracking as you say because auctions can be very fickle. The estimates are low so I hope people will bid. 🙂 DZ