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April 9, 2024

Webb’s auction house launches Design Live

The inaugural live auction is scheduled for Monday 15 April at 6.30 pm and has 192 objects for sale with an estimated total value of $280,000–$420,000.

Among the most recognisable and rare pieces on offer are a Marius & Marius three-seater sofa (designed in the early 70s by Italian architect Mario Marenco for Artek) with an estimated value of $12,000–$14,000 and a 1960s Hans-Agne Jakobsson Brass Chandelier (Estimate: $15,000–$17,000).

Lot 69, A Rare Mario Marenco Marius&Marius Sofa (est. $12,000–$14,000). Image: 


Webb’s says “Whether you are attracted to the functionality of the Bauhaus, or the elegant sculpture of Hans Wegner chairs or if your tastes lean more toward the flamboyance and explosive colours of the Memphis movement or the maximalists, Design Live is the place to experience and maybe even purchase pre-loved, curated objects of exquisite industrial design, excellent provenance and pedigree.” and continue “It is not only about tasteful, enduring interiors; designer furniture of various eras has become big business.”

Webb’s continues “these items are becoming increasingly rare because people have come to understand their significance and quality and are holding on to them for longer, which is increasing the price for the ones that do make it to the market. According to an article in the Washington Post exploring the US secondary market for this type of design: the furniture resale market reached US$15 billion in 2021, a US$1 billion jump from 2020. This is partly driven by the fact that individual pieces of designer furniture from the most seminal design eras (such as quality mid-century and Italian) have risen in price exponentially from when they were first launched.”

“Quality design is not just beautiful, but the fact that both its aesthetics and materials are robust and enduring means it is environmentally sound. Lower-quality, trend-driven items often break and their aesthetic ages faster while investing in objects that last across generations — either passed down to family members or on-sold — means less furniture is going to landfill, and longer ownership keeps their material memories and design languages alive.” says Florence S. Fournier, Specialist, Decorative Arts.

Lot 146, A Pair of DCM Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller (est. $900–$1,200). Image: 


“The ever-so-popular Eames Lounge Chair with Foot Stool had a price tag of approximately $500 when it was first introduced in the mid-1950s, an original nowadays could cost anywhere between $10,000–$16,000 depending on condition and provenance. But, why would you pay that much? A $10,000 lounger that lasts 15-25 years is comparatively cheaper than a $2,000 one that lasts three years,” said Fournier, “fast furniture is a false economy that is damaging to the environment and your finances.”

View the inaugural Design Live Auction catalogue here.

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