• DIDO Petro Nadiyovych
  • DIDO Іvan Zdorovan

Collectible design: Art based on emotions

The status of "collectible" goes to the most demanding design products. The artists who create it are always being discussed incessantly and enthusiastically: Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Studio Job, Oskar Zieta, Zaha Hadid, and several hundred other design daredevils.

In order to understand what makes design collectible, we have identified the common denominator of such works. It is a compelling narrative.

We collect design items for a good reason ー we have an emotional connection with these things, they speak to us in a special familiar language, they show us who we are. It’s an investment beyond financial.

Big people, big prices

Frenchman Pierre Paulin, or the so-called French presidents’ designer, has gained a reputation as the unsurpassed creator of everything you can sit on. His innovative style caused a revolution in home furniture of the '60s and '70s. He created chairs and armchairs for French presidents, was responsible for all the interior design and furniture of the Élysée Palace for President Georges Pompidou, and Nicolas Sarkozy said it was Pierre who turned the design into art.

Déclive lounger, 1966
Tongue Chair for Artifort Photo:

The great Gino Sarfatti has designed more than 700 kinds of lighting. Unlike other designers, he was engaged not only in the design of lamps but also in the manufacture. It all started with a humorous bet ー his friend asked to make a lamp out of a glass vase and his first masterpiece was born.

Due to his engineering skills, he experimented throughout all his career with wiring, lighting, light bulbs, and transformers. He always tried to make his lamps thinner, smaller, stronger, and cheaper at the production stage. His lamps served as a starting point for the creation of the whole series of modern models.

Lamp 2097, 1950
Vintage model 2095 for Arteluce, 1958

Jean Prouve is a French architect, designer, modernist, and one of the most talented designers of the 20th century. He started with the production of wrought iron gates and bars and then engaged in furniture. Having given up wrought iron in his work, he used sheet steel. His furniture was simple and functional, as well as a fairly low cost of manufacture. That is why it became very popular in the postwar years when the country was rebuilding after the collapse. His furniture began to be ordered en masse by schools, dormitories, universities, and if 50 years ago his oak plywood chair was made in high production rate and cost about 150 francs, today each item costs from 2 to 10 thousand euros. One of his most famous chairs "Standard" is made of bent sheet steel and plywood.

Standard Chair, 1934

The Proust chair is the specialty of Alessandro Mendini, an architect, artist, editor of Casabella and Domus magazines, a rebel of Italian design. Mendini said that architecture and products should talk to people. He was the main force of "anti-design", which burst onto the Italian design scene in the '80s. He believed that Italian design was too conservative and soulless, so he tried to revive it by experimenting with cultures, colors, and shapes. The Proust chair vividly depicts Alessandro's life position. Certainly a museum thing.

The Proust chair, 1978

The aluminum chaise lounge "Lockheed Lounge" by Australian designer Marc Newson is considered to be the most expensive item ever sold by the designer (alive). It has been sold at the Phillips auction for 2,5 million pounds in 2015. Newson works in the fields of aircraft construction, furniture and item design, jewelry, clothing and adheres to biomorphism, which is about flowing lines, transparency, lack of sharp corners, and the use of high-tech materials. He worked on the design for iWatch and iPhone 6, collaborated with Nike, and now works as the creative director of Qantas.


As to the brightness of creative decisions, industrial design has always conceded to the collectible one. However, Philippe Starck is sure that the design is, first of all, a sense of humor and pleasure people give to themselves. For 50 years, he has been creating literally everything from toothbrushes and lingerie to airfields and residential areas. His famous Juicy Salif is the most inconvenient juicer in the world. And so says the designer himself. Stark says it was not created to squeeze lemons, but to strike up a conversation. Yer despite of being totally non-practical, everyone knows this design object.

Juicy Salif, 1990

Meeting point

Okay, Google: Where can I see a collectible design?

Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco

The gallery started its journey from a small space in London and now has 4 branches. Its founders, two childhood friends, claim that they are not interested in the design itself ー they are focused on creating a design as a form of art. In the gallery, you can come across sculptures, furniture by designers and architects, and collectible ceramics.


R & Company, New York

For 20 years, the gallery represented historical and modern designers. It is here that you can find various items from the 1945 year. R & Company defends the collectible design, thus creating new directions in the modern market. You can come across anything from art objects to lighting and furniture.

Photo: Joe Kramm / R & Company

Nilufar, Milan

Gallery founder Nina Yashar worked with carpets, and in 2015 she opened her gallery when her own collection already numbered more than 3,000 exhibits. The gallery annually participates in Design Miami / Basel. Here, you can come across modern and antique items, carpets, jewelry, and lighting.

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