Going global: Modern show unveils new sources for 20th century design

The global search is on! From the dark forests of Transylvania to the Latin vitality of Buenos Aires, passionate collectors and dealers in Modern design are searching far and wide for new material. With an energetic market that shows no sign of abating, the thirst for all things Modern is now being quenched with fresh discoveries from foreign shores.

At the upcoming Modern Show, Oct. 17-19 at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan, the results of this world-wide search for the best in 20th century design will be unveiled. For designers and collectors alike, this is the opportunity to purchase new furnishings and accessories that showcase how the Modern movement was uniquely interpreted in other parts of the world.

What’s in store for show goers? It’s called Americano Functional but it’s uniquely Argentinean. Designed for the well-educated and growing middle class in the Argentina of the 1950s and ’60s, this elegantly stream-lined furniture, made from tropical woods, is now finding its way into the American market with great success. A marriage of both American and Italian design influences, these lighter and more functional furnishings were well-suited to the newer homes that were a sign of the rapid modernization of the country after World War II.

“This is intelligent, refined furniture,” notes Andrew Wilder of Los Angeles’ Swenska Mobler, who will introduce a special collection of Americano Functional at the upcoming Modern Show. “The look is very organic with playful touches,” notes Wilder whose collection took four years to build. He points to a table with a center that looks like a seed pod and legs in the shape of branches – elegant yet whimsical.

“During the mid-20th century, modern furniture was being made all over the world,” he adds. “Each country looked to the other for examples to copy but gave the furniture their own personal stamp. Argentinean furniture reflects the simple, geometric shapes that were so favored by the movement, but with unusual lines and decorative touches that are clearly Latin-influenced.

Significantly Argentinean craftsman used woods that were indigenous to the region, such as rosewood and petribi (unique to the area) as well as mahogany and walnut. Wilder’s collection includes beautifully-made tables and chairs, armoires and cabinetry. “Scarcity drives the market,” he observes, “as these pieces are more difficult to import.”

His own search for new finds resulted in a total cultural immersion, digging out pieces in often obscure parts of Buenos Aires. But the work is rewarding. “These pieces elicit a strong reaction: “WOW, this is different…..this is from a different part of the world….I just have this in my collection.”

It’s called Magyar Modernism and it comes from the far corners of Central Europe – an area that is also emerging as an important new source of 20th century design. First introduced to the American market at last season’s Modern show, Magyar Modernism, as the combined Transylvanian Art Deco and Hungarian Modernism movements are called, has really taken off, so much so, that collectors will be eagerly waiting for the new pieces that both Keith Jacomine and Harsalah Gherab of Gand 55, Inc. will be bringing to the upcoming Modern Show.

After years of isolation under the iron curtain, these pieces are just now coming to light with the result that Hungary, in particular, has become a real treasure trove for Modern Design ranging from Secessionist and Art Deco to Bauhaus. “Hungary may well be the next resource for one-of-a-kind mass-produced pieces that are fresh to market,” says Jacomine whose search for these pieces began when he and his wife moved to Hungary five years ago. “This is particularly significant as mass-produced furniture by such well-known American designers as Eames have become increasingly scarce.

There are also any number of talented designers and influential furniture manufacturers in Hungary whose contribution to the Modern Movement is still largely unknown here. At the upcoming show, Jacomine will be introducing a collection by Hungarian furniture designer and architect Lajos Kozma, who is emerging as one of the leading artisans of Modern design from Central Europe.

The Modern Show’s 90 dealers have captured the international appeal of Modern Design with mid-century Moderne, Art Deco, and industrial furniture; jewelry, paintings and decorative accessories all well-represented and sourced from throughout the U.S., and other parts of Europe as well.

For more information: 973-808-5015, or www.stellashows.com.

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