Lots of energy

With Christie’s auction house set to host a 1960s Pop Art sale, associate director of modern design Simon Andrews tells Hannah Booth about his mission to source the pieces and why he thinks an auction is such a buzz

One of the few lights on show, Superstudio’s 1967 Gherpe, makes his point well: it is a bright pink, translucent plastic light with a concertina-like shell. Its name, after all, means prawn.

Andrews’ other mission is to get people into auction houses. ‘People are often afraid to go to auctions,’ he says. ‘They think if they scratch their head, they’ll end up bidding for something. We try to make it fun and friendly, and are keen that Christie’s projects a modern, current image.

‘I still think design is cheap,’ he adds. ‘The market has only really been going for the past ten years.’ He suggests last year’s sale of a good Arne Jacobsen Ox Lounge chair from 1966 for £26 000 was good value, particularly compared with art from the same period.

For the Pop Art sale, Andrews tapped many of his design sources for pieces. Contracts pulled pieces out of bags, house sales turned up real gems, and he went directly to makers. The sale was a collaboration between six departments, another first for Christie’s.

Andrews has been sourcing pieces for just under a year, and his work is all over in an hour and a half, at the bang of a gavel. Isn’t that a bit of a let-down? ‘It can be a bit traumatic,’ he concedes. ‘But auctions are great fun, they’re short, swift and energetic.’

If 1960s furniture is enjoying a heyday now, what’s next? ‘Work from the 1970s is less interesting, as Britain was in an economic crisis, so the next generation will probably collect pieces from the 1980s,’ Andrews says. What, black leather-and-chrome sofas, and executive swivel chairs? Surely not. But if you’ve got one in your lounge, hang on to it. You never know…

Christie’s Pop Art auction takes place on Wednesday 30 June at 2pm, at 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7.

Art and the 60s runs from 30 June-26 September at Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1.

Discovering Pop London is a day-long symposium held on 3 July at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1. Details at www.designmuseum.org.

Latest articles