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Tim Andreadis
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Published: 9 October 2017

Nakashima Shines in recent Design Sale

On Sunday, October 8 Freeman’s held its second Design sale of 2017. Featuring exquisite examples of Mid-Century and Modern design from renowned craftsman, the sale was met with excitement from the design and architecture communities alike. By auction’s end, the sale totaled just under a million dollars and boasted a 99 percent sell-through rate.

A George Nakashima (American 1905-1990) Sanso “Reception House” table and six Conoid chairs (Lot 81) headlined the sale and outperformed, realizing $187,500 against an estimate between $100,000-150,000. The Frosh Family Sanso “Reception House” Table was built by Nakashima for the family of Stanley Frosh, a prominent judge and close family friend in 1981. The impressive example is named for the Reception House (also known as the Sanso or Mountain Villa), the last building designed and built by Nakashima on his New Hope, Pennsylvania compound from 1975-77.

The Frosh table is likely one of the earliest of these Sanso forms, a design that was later adapted by Nakashima for his even larger Altars for Peace. These Altars were meant to be placed on every continent, tables around which Nakashima envisioned people from all over the world coming together “for prayer, meditation and contemplation.” Nakashima began the project in 1984 and it is continued today by Mira Nakashima and the George Nakashima Foundation for Peace.

Sunday’s sale featured many fine Nakashima examples, resulting in a 100 percent sell-through rate of works from the prolific designer and architect. Another piece that outperformed was a rare George Nakashima Conoid Bench (Lot 28) circa 1979 from the sale’s Roth Collection. The bench was crafted from American black walnut and hickory and included an upholstered cushion. Estimated between $30,000-50,000, the bench sold for $75,000.

Freeman’s was also pleased to offer a desk designed by the iconic, Philadelphia-native, Louis Kahn (1901-1974). The desk (Lot 40) was created for the Morton and Lenore Weiss House in East Norriton Township, Pennsylvania (built from 1947-1950). It was designed in 1949 and realized by the Alexander Woodwork Co. in Philadelphia in 1950. The piece was estimated between $10,000-15,000 and was ultimately sold for $33,750.

Ties to Philadelphia were prevalent in the Design Sale. Perhaps the most notable tie was a Lot 49, a Louis XVI Desk from designer John Vesey (American, 1924-1992), once owned by former Philadelphia Flyers and Eagles owner, Jerry Wolman. The stainless steel and gilt bronze piece was created in 1958 and remains the ultimate corner office desk. The desk soared past its estimate between $4,000-6,000, realizing an impressive $32,500.

Head of 20th Century Design, Tim Andreadis, has established Freeman’s as an authority on works by George Nakashima. As such, the Design department is currently reviewing exceptional Nakashima from family and private collections for Freeman’s June 2018 Design sale.

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