So you want to be a modern-day Rich Uncle Pennybags and convince your friends you’ve got better taste than Ronald Lauder and Karl Lagerfeld combined. Do we have the book for you!
Collecting Design, by industry heavyweight Adam Lindemann, is a handbook on “the collectability [sic] and overall desirability of design” — furniture design, to be precise — which is classy way of phrasing what we’re not too classy to say: This is THE field guide to getting filthy rich off of stuff you can sit on.
The focus is 20th-century furniture. Through interviews with 32 insiders, from collectors and tastemakers to dealers and auction-house experts, Lindemann roughs out the shape of the design marketplace today.
What’s valuable and what would get laughed off of Antiques Roadshow will surprise you. We learn, for instance, that Dutch design master Gerrit Rietveld is auction-house gold, his famous Red Blue Chair a sort of furniture-world equivalent of the Holtermann Nugget. Eames, on the other hand, is so over-saturated you couldn’t get beans for an original at auction. Likewise Mies van der Rohe’s lovely, but ubiquitous, Barcelona chair.
Lindemann — a New York investor and collector whose most recent book covered the contemporary art market — is quick to say that Collecting Design isn’t the final word on Eames or Rietveld or anyone for that matter; rather, he’s presenting “a range of options and enough market information to jump-start your own exploration of this fascinating field.”
Still, if you happen to have bucket loads of dough you’re just dying to throw at furniture, and you see someone like Lagerfield — Karl frickin’ Lagerfield, one of several mega-watt names interviewed here (Ronald Lauder’s included, too) — singing the praises of Australian designer Marc Newson, you could probably do worse than Newson’s Lockheed Lounge. If all else fails, it’s always something (relatively) comfy to lie on. Can’t say the same about the Warhols.