5 design icons for every mid-century villa

On 25 September 2014, the Quittenbaum auction house is holding a major design sale in Munich. From the 265 lots, we have selected the mid-century classics that we believe should be in every collection…

There are ultimately always the classics that you just know will attract particular attention

While the Quittenbaum ‘Design’ sale offers a great many enticing items of furniture and objets d’art, not all are by famous names. But as in the classic car market, there are ultimately always the classics that you just know will attract particular attention. Here, we look at five icons from the Quittenbaum sale that are the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL or Porsche 356 of the design world.

Barcelona daybed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's pavilion for the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona is considered a masterpiece of modern architecture – but he also designed furniture that can be found in any roll call of 20th Century design icons. We’re especially fond of the Barcelona daybed, whose minimalist lines are so representative of Mies’s (as he was widely known) severe simplicity. Imagine spending a grey autumn afternoon lounging on the daybed and enjoying a good book or – very briefly – closing your eyes and... zzzz.

670 lounge chair by Charles Eames

Ask children from the upmarket areas of Copenhagen, Berlin or Chelsea to draw a chair and you’d probably get a fair few variations on the lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames. Together with a matching ottoman, these chairs are now a Mercedes-like status symbol for the ‘Mad Men’ generation. Not only is the 1956 lounge chair with its exposed wood an icon of style – it can be found in the MoMA in New York – but it’s also darn comfortable. Try it.

Eye wall clock by George Nelson

More than 150 clocks were designed by George Nelson and his team in the 1950s for the Howard Miller Clock company. Particularly memorable, however, is the 1957 Nelson Eye Clock, which can be hung either horizontally or vertically. Who needs an Apple Watch, when you could hang this wonderfully playful and decorative timepiece on the wall?  

Mademoiselle chairs by Ilmari Tapiovaara

Tapio... who? Unfairly, Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara is rarely mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Yet these black-painted, birch-wood Mademoiselle chairs from 1956, influenced by classic Windsor-style chairs of the late 1940s, offer Scandinavian simplicity with an international twist.

Lufthansa Boeing 707

As one of the first commercial jet aircraft, the four-engine Boeing 707 revolutionised global aviation in the 1950s and, in 1957, Lufthansa ordered its first 707. The blue and white Boeing remained in use until 1984, a familiar sight in post-War European skies. Sadly, this design icon of aviation isn’t really suitable for your average collector: too big, too noisy and way too thirsty at the kerosene pumps. Can we therefore recommend a beautiful 41.5 x 87.5 x 92cm  model of the Boeing 707? Much more practical. You’ll also be wanting the book ‘Lufthansa + Graphic Design’ by Lars Müller Publishing to go with it, chronicling the development of the Lufthansa designs.

Photos: Quittenbaum

These five design classics and a great many more for sale at the Quittenbaum Design auction on 25 September 2014 in Munich can be found in the Classic Driver Market.