Snake Auction Observer 063: The tension between education and deals; Ferrari season recap; Sottsass; kitchenware
The best rattan lounger there is, a van der Rohe sleeper, and the best chair ever made (period)
A spate of really dogshit auctions this week, but found a couple things in most of them: good lighting, vases, cheap deco, van der Rohe, Cesca chairs, a perfect piece of Italian ABS plastic, the best chair ever made (going for way less than it sells for lately), a typewriter (not that one) and a gnarly deal on loungers in LA. All in a day’s work. But first:
You’ll notice I did not send a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal email newsletter. I instead watched the Cowboys
losebarely beat the Commanders. Why no deals? Mostly because retail items are much too expensive to begin with. Buying new Alessi silverware… why don’t I just drive a car off the lot? It’s a rentier’s scam. Here’s what I think about new stuff:
To be sure, sometimes we have to buy new. I don’t have anything against new crap on principle. Indeed, I buy quite a bit of it. We can’t always buy vintage. And, indeed, we shouldn’t. In fact, this Black Friday I bought some gelatin on discount and an Instant Pot so I can flash fry some bones. But I’m not into buying new stuff if I can afford it. I’m not Lewis Ranieri. More to the point… it’s Black Friday every day here, B. Scroll down to save money.
From the Snake Was Right (SWR) department: Egg price fixing is real. I said they were inflating egg prices—I knew they were. And they are.
Does anyone know where to buy non-pet grade beef trachea in New York? Asking sincerely.
Ferrari—what a season—season over—third in the Constructors’—driver spots five and seven—gone in a flash—many thoughts. What to say… I have collected my thoughts in two words: Disgrace.
Navone for Sottsass vase, LA, flat ship, Thurs.: One wonders about Sottsass and his active influence and reach over younger designers. As the old head of Memphis—a group of younger artists—he steered the ship there, but lots of them were decently established… or at least defined in their own right before doing time with him. And then there’s Sottsass Associati—this is one piece—in which work by young designers, some overlapping with Memphis, like Thun and Zanini, and some not… gets put on the forefront. Sottsass started both bodies in 1980… only Associati (a consultancy) really remains… This vase, by Paola Navone looks almost like a candle holder. It is just so plain. P. audacious. Navone has some hits, like this chromed-out armchair and a few resin vases that are south of Pesce. This one runs a couple/few hundred bucks; seller has a nice Dakota Jackson chair, some decent glassware and a flotilla of third tier furniture. $300
Sonneman floor lamp, Fl., in-house-shipping, Wed.: In the chat last week—fun—someone asked for recos for a cheap floor lamp… I’m of two minds. On one side: buying used with a hard budget is… impossible. It can’t be done. You either have to give time for the correct items to show up, or take what’s out there… which, over time is more than plenty. But during a right now phase… is not. And so looking for a brand, so to speak, and hewing to that strongly won’t get you what you want. But, on the other hand… if someone only wants to spend a fair amount on furniture, then they can make the most of it if they know the market. If they can see, in a store, in an auction… what’s out there, what is good, which schools are which, what’s beautiful and what isn’t. Hence this newsletter. It’s not about deals… it’s about knowledge.
This said, Sonneman always works. He’s available, has a wide design footprint with a number of styles:
Orbiter, with the circles
Kovacs lamps (rectangular, slim)
And is so clear about what he does. Not every item is major… but some are. And there are enough very good ones that we can be liberal with what we buy. For most people, any Sonneman will do. (I have two I think.) This lamp is not far off from Gianfranco Frattini’s Abele. It is just more attainable. Sonneman lamps remain in their Trump-era Boby phase: one should not pay over $300, even though there is value there at double that. Part of a weird auction heavy on equine art—some of which is horrific, some of which is not bad—and porcelain grandma sculptures. $140
Deco Bobois credenza, Ill., IHS, Wed.: One theory of mine about furniture… one of the main ones… an early one… is that we are still in the labels phase of design. What I mean is: brands—labels—are recommendations, furniture makers accepted enough for regular purchase… and they still run the show. At this early stage of the knowledge market about furniture, few buyers are confident enough about design to move past these labels and pick items whose design decisions sit outside their brands, and which are different and therefore have a more defined