Grand Design from Tom Watkins
12 Sep, 2011
Music impresario Tom Watkins may be best known for having
managed the Pet Shop Boys, Bros and East 17 in the '80s and '90s,
but he is also a prolific fine art collector specialising in works
from the Memphis Design Group. Other enthusiasts for modern design
now have the opportunity to acquire part of his collection when
selected items go to auction as part of the 20th Century Design
sale on 21st September.
Tom Watkins studied at the London College of Furniture and
worked for Terence Conran and several other big name designers
before going into the music industry. Viewers of Channel 4's
Grand Designs caught a glimpse of some of his remarkable
art collection when the home he designed and built, The Big White
House at Pett Level between Rye and Hastings, was featured in the
The items included in the auction were collected in the 1990s
and early 2000s and reflect Watkins' interest in the Memphis Group.
Memphis was a collective of young, ambitious furniture and product
designers based in Italy and led by the already successful designer
Ettore Sottsass. From 1981 Memphis products, with their radical use
of finishes, shapes and humour, dominated European design. The
auction includes a good example of Michelle De Lucchi's
First chair and the classic baseball glove chair
Joe, named after the baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.
Also included in the auction is a section of British Design
including a terracotta Thinking Man's Chair designed by
Jasper Morrison, furniture by Hille, ceramics by Poole and
Midwinter and glass by Samuel Herman, Whitefriars, Mdina and a rare
studio vase by Ronald Stennett-Willson.
Below: 'First' a Memphis chair designed by Michele De
Lucchi. Estimate: £700-900