Archive for the 'Furniture' Category


Exploring Popular Mid Century Modern Art

When you are looking for mid century modern art, estate liquidators are a very popular option for finding it. There is so much to know about this type of art, so start with a few of the basics concerning pieces and artists. This will help you to explore some of the foundational elements of this art type.

Hans Wegner

This artist put his talents to use when it comes to furniture. The Danish designer specialized in mid century modern styles and he created a lot of chairs. There are a number of designs and styles that when people see them, they automatically think about Wegner. However, there are a few specific styles that are some of his most popular, and these include:

  • Shell Chair
  • Wishbone Chair
  • Sawbuck Chair
  • Swivel Chair
  • Ox Chair
  • Valet Chair
  • Flag Halyard Chair

Papa Bear Chair

The Papa Bear chair is another creation of Hens Wegner. This style is still very popular today because its looks almost perfectly marry contemporary and retro style. The chair has an armchair look, but the arms leave a gap between the seat of the chair and the bottom of the arms. It comes in a number of colors, and over the years, multiple different fabrics have been used, including leather and suede. In many cases, the chair comes with a matching ottoman, allowing the person sitting in it to kick back and relax.

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman

Tulip Chair

The tulip chair was very popular in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. It has a very retro design and is traditionally made from plastic. It looks similar to a tulip and this is where the name comes from. There is a cushion on the seat of the chair that comes in almost every color and pattern you can imagine.

Louis Kahn

Kahn was an architect whose designs were largely based on this type of art. He created homes that utilized a more modern flair and when you look at them, it is easy to see the influence of this art type. For example, in 1940 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, the artist created Jesse Oser House. At the time, this home was incredibly modern in terms of its overall design. It features clean lines and plenty of windows. Even using today’s standards of modern design, this home would be considered to be modern, so the artist was certainly ahead of his time.

As you can see, this type of art is very diverse and includes everything from architecture to paintings to furniture. Once you learn a little about popular pieces and artists, you will better know what to look for when you visit estate liquidators.


How the Artisans of Today Get their Inspiration from California Auctions

Artists, artisans, and creators are on a constant lookout for sources of inspiration. They’re searching for the next big idea that will drive them, as well as the spark that will ignite the flame of their ingenuity and creativity. In this vein, they often discover and channel inspiration from the past, from masters who paved the way in many different mediums. One of the most inspiring periods for many artisans is the 17th century.

Inspirational pieces from this period include everything from paintings and drawings, to sculpture and needlework, to clothing and architecture, to textile design, furniture design, and even book design. There are many examples of all of these items on the Internet and in books, but there are places artists can go where they can see these historic objects up close and in person. These places include art and antiques auctions in California.


MARY DeNEALE MORGAN (Californian 1868-1948) “California Coastal Dunes” Watercolor on board



Inspiration-Gathering at California Auctions: Suggestions

Gathering inspiration is always a personal process, but there are tried-and-true ways to do it that have worked consistently for many artists and artisans. The number one rule that applies to inspiration-gathering, however, is that there are no rules. There is no limit to where an idea may come from because inspiration is everywhere.

The Value of In-Person Viewing

At auction houses, items up for sale may be displayed in a main gallery or showroom up to the point of sale. This gives people a chance to view and inspect them before bidding, but it also affords artisans and creatives a unique opportunity to interact with rare, historic, or valuable pieces from the past in person. Viewing something in real life is far different from looking at a picture of it on the web or in a book, and a whole new cache of ideas may spring from seeing an art piece or historic item in 3D.


Spanish Baroque Style Trestle Table with Iron Stretchers

Spanish Baroque Style Trestle Table with Iron Stretchers

Questions to Ask to Generate New Ideas

With these things in mind, collecting inspiration depends on what intrigues a particular person, not to mention what stands out to them about an object, situation, person, place, or idea. However, some people need a push to get them thinking in a way that generates new concepts. Here are some thoughts that may be helpful when pursuing the muse at auction houses:

What story does the piece depict? Are there multiple possible stories?

Look at the evidence of wear on the item, if any. Note its condition. What does this say about the usefulness of the piece? Try to imagine what kind of people would have used it, and in what ways.

Think about the value of the piece. If it is a painting or art object, why is it valuable? If it is a furniture piece or other “useful” item, why is it so treasured today?

Note the colors in or on the piece. How are they related — are they primary or secondary colors, for instance? Do they evoke nature? Think about why the artist or artisan chose them.

Is there a recurring pattern or motif on the object? What is it?

These questions are relevant when viewing any item or art piece for inspiration, not just 17th century or antique pieces. With the right mindset, inspiration can be drawn from any decade.




Reasons Why Buying Antiques from Estate Liquidators is a Good Investment

Antiques, whether this includes furniture, art, paintings, or objects that once served a practical use but are now decorative, are a good investment. This is true for many reasons. Those who purchase antiques from auctions and estate liquidators will soon find out just how well they spent their money. These reasons have everything to do with history, longevity, quality, style, and stories.

Italian Neoclassical Marquetry Walnut Commode

Italian Neoclassical Marquetry Walnut Commode

The Value of Antiques for Modern Life

They Each Have a Story

Antiques have had a whole life before buyers swoop in to give them new ones. They probably had multiple owners; sat, hung, or were placed in multiple locations, homes, and rooms; and maybe even had multiple purposes beyond their intended uses. An antique chair could have been someone’s favorite reading spot 100 years ago, or where the head of a family sat for dinner every evening, 150 years ago. Sometimes the stories are known, and sometimes they aren’t, but in the latter cases, it’s satisfying to imagine what they are.

They Have History

Besides stories, antiques have a history. They were made in a different time, a different place, and a different era with manners, customs, etiquette, and ideas that are quite possibly long gone. Their history reveals what was important, worth noticing and remembering, to the people who made them and cherished them.

They’re Well-Made

Antiques have lasted throughout the years, sometimes hundreds of years, for a reason. They were probably crafted by hand with care and attention. This craftsmanship is a very good sign that they will last for a few hundred more years.

Granted, antiques require care. However, the fact that an object has stood the test of time in the first place is a good marker of its continued lasting quality. Better yet, even if an antique acquires a few scratches, marks, scuffs, or dings along the way during its long life, most antique enthusiasts will tell you that these are simply marks of character.

They’re Timeless

Some trends never go out of style. There’s a reason antiques look classic in any room and any situation. Their construction, lines, and design are timeless. They defy trends. These are wonderful pieces to add to a home’s décor for this reason. The investment is returned through the years of use the antique will provide, not to mention the enduring beauty it will afford. Some antiques, like wooden furniture, even get better with age as they acquire a patina.

Watson Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Three Piece Epergne

Watson Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Three Piece Epergne

Antiques from Estate Liquidators Have Enduring Value

While purchasing an antique piece is an investment, it is one that usually pays off. Antiques have the advantage of being well-made, which has helped them to last through multiple ownerships and all kinds of different uses. They also have a history as well as stories attached to them, which perhaps makes them more special than the run-of-the-mill items one might find at a big box store or furniture outlet. When one purchases an antique, they are truly buying quality as well as a piece of that history for themselves.



Using Art Auction Houses as a Source for Interior Decorating

Auctions aren’t just for collectors. They aren’t even just for those with a lot of money. Surprisingly, more and more interior decorators are using art auction houses as a source for finding unique furniture and décor for their design clients. The right unique piece can add the perfect element of surprise and interest to any room, and savvy interior designers know this very well. Auction houses are treasure troves for art, antique pieces, items of historical value, and more — any of which can be used as décor.

Sevres Style New Haven Clock Co. Gilt Metal Porcelain Mounted Clock Garniture

Sevres Style New Haven Clock Co. Gilt Metal Porcelain Mounted Clock Garniture

Reasons to Use Art Auction Houses as Sources for Interior Decorating

Most People Love the Idea of Owning Something One-of-a-Kind

Owning something no one else has, or something that is very rare, makes most people feel important and special. It’s something they can boast about, and it signifies their cultured status. The idea of the piece is just as important as the piece itself.

A Big Design Trend Has People Looking Backward

A design trend that is not going away anytime soon is vintage decorating. Large swathes of people enjoy combing flea markets and antique malls in search of unique items for their homes, ones they won’t find in modern stores. However, often a trip to a thrift store or flea market amounts to little more than sifting through piles of junk. In contrast, auction houses provide the best of both worlds: uniqueness and value. If something is not very desirable, it will not sell for much money. Truly valuable pieces go for higher amounts. Time is not wasted on items that belong at the garbage dump. Most of the items have historical value if not monetary value.

Auction Pieces Add Character to an Otherwise Bland Interior

Modern homes often suffer from a certain amount of sterility. They usually lack the architectural detail of homes built earlier in the 20th century, and can all appear alike. Interior decorators who wisely insert unique pieces from auctions into their designs bring life and character to these otherwise bland spaces. The resulting look is warmer and more inviting than could be achieved with modern furniture and décor alone.

French Walnut Standing Cheval Mirror

French Walnut Standing Cheval Mirror

Mixing Style is an Effortless Design Trick

Designers who boldly mix styles of art, décor, and furniture create an effortlessly stylish look for their clients. For example, mixing 19th century antique chairs with a modern table, or using a vintage trunk as a coffee table or end table with a modern couch. This juxtaposition creates interest, not to mention serves as a conversation starter. This design technique therefore proves to be anything but boring.

The art of using unique pieces to accent interior design is an old designer’s trick. However, sourcing these pieces can often prove difficult. In these cases, auctions can be an indispensable source for purchasing the perfect one-of-a-kind find, artwork, antique, or collectible item that sets off a room’s style and acts as the finishing touch.




Going, Going…Gone? No!

Missed Michaan’s last estate auction? For the following 5 business days post sale, you now have the opportunity to purchase unsold lots. Michaan’s presents “Buy It Now,” giving you a second chance at owning an unclaimed treasure. For more information and to view unsold estate auction lots, please click here.

mgallery copy



Prized Fall Gourd

Your kids have their Halloween pumpkin, you could have the ultimate “Gourd.”  This circa 1910 Dirk Van Erp and D’Arcy Gaw Gourd lamp ($25,000-30,000) highlights Michaan’s Arts and Crafts auction on Thursday, November 6, 2014.  The lamp is of an excellent overall condition, with sound seams as well as the absence of any damage or dents.  When lit, the piece casts a gorgeous glow; no carving required.




The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at when it becomes available.  Previews open at Michaan’s Auctions on October the 31st to November the 2nd, as well as the day of sale, November 6, 2014.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


Halloween Imagery Appears Amongst October Estate Property: Part 4

Who wouldn’t agree that Halloween is equal parts mischievous fun and fright? This vintage Italian hardwood chair features ferociously beautiful beast forms as well as cheekily cheerful faces. A bit scary and a touch joyful; sound familiar?

Italian Renaissance Revival savonrola chair, $800-1,200.

Italian Renaissance Revival savonrola chair, $800-1,200.


Find out more about our October Estate Auction.


Stone Cold in Love with June Fine Highlights

Michaan’s 2014 fine sale season begins with a June 6th auction encompassing fine art, jewelry, furnishings and decorations.  A highlight has been selected from each department represented in the sale, giving you a glimpse into the caliber of the offered property.  Fine Italian marble, Warhol cherubs plus a large fancy yellow diamond: hoping the combination leaves you stone cold in love with what you see at auction.

Andy Warhol lithograph

Fine Art – Andy Warhol lithograph “Two Cherubs and a Flower (from In the Bottom of the Garden)” ($10,000-15,000)


Carved Italian marble cistern

Furniture & Decorative Arts – Carved Italian marble cistern ($6,000-8,000)

Fancy yellow diamond ring

Jewelry – Approximate 5.19 carat fancy yellow diamond ring ($50,000-80,000)

The auction will be held on June 6, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.  The online catalog is available at  Previews begin on May the 30th and continue until June the1st, as well as on the day of sale.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


The Cabella Collection – Que Bella!

Steve Cabella, owner of Modern i, remains a recognized founder of the Bay Area modernist movement.  His groundbreaking shop is known as one of the earliest dedicated to modern design, as it opened its Marin doors in 1976.  Items from his collection have been internationally exhibited, including at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the Eames Office Gallery and the San Francisco Airport Museum.  An Eames expert in his own right, Cabella runs, a not-for-profit website documenting obscure Eames design moments.  In addition, he recently produced a film titled “Ray and Charles Eames: The Hollywood Connection” that delves into their contribution to Hollywood movie making.  The “Modern Maven” will debut choice selections from his coveted collection in Michaan’s 2oth Century Design Auction slated for May 8, 2014.  Approximately 80% of the sale lots will stem from the Cabella Collection, providing a wide range of mid-century modern pieces to the bidding public.  Some highlights from the sale that will have you saying “Que bella!”

Numerous extremely rare and one-of-a-kind pieces from modern icon Margaret de Patta:

Margaret De Patta Flatware.

Margaret De Patta Flatware

This four piece sterling silver, copper and stainless steel flatware set is embossed with original de Patta insignias.  Only five of these sets are known to exist, with remaining suites held in museums and esteemed private collections ($12,000-16,000).

Margaret De Patta Ring

Margaret De Patta Ring

This sterling silver Margaret de Patta ring of fluid abstract design will also be presented, standing as an excellent example of her limited studio production work ($2,400-3,200).

Collection of Margaret De Patta Paper Ephemera

Collection of Margaret De Patta Paper Ephemera

Perhaps one of the rarest de Patta offerings in the auction stems from this group of her original design paper ephemera ($1,200-1,400).  The three handmade, one-of-a-kind, abstract Christmas cards are accompanied by original brochure photos from 1950, 1951, 1961, 1962 and 1964.  This extremely rare collection was exhibited in both Oakland and New York Craft Museum Margaret de Patta exhibits.

1963 Avanti by Studebaker

1963 Avanti by Studebaker

This 1963 Avanti by Studebaker automobile designed by Raymond Loewy will be offered at an auction estimate of $20,000-25,000.  The car is one of only two thousand and eight produced by hand in 1963, bearing a serial number of 777.  The automobile remains in exceptionally clean, authentic condition with all of its original parts.

Eames Storage Unit

Eames Storage Unit

Also of note in the auction is this scarce Eames storage unit ($3,500-5,000).  The coveted model ES2U100 is fashioned in a rarely seen perforated metal panel.  This first year production piece remans in exceptional showroom condition, with its original colors of red, white, blue and grey.

Previews for this not to be missed collector event will be held on May 2nd to the 4th, as well as on the day of sale, May 8, 2014.  The sale will consist of a wonderful selection of modern and contemporary furniture, artwork, lighting and decorative objects.  For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail  Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.


Modern Brazilian Furniture: Hotter Than the Girl from Ipanema

It goes without saying that modern furniture is hot.  But what is becoming increasingly “quente” at the moment?  Modern Brazilian furniture.  The June 2013 issue of Art + Auction solely featured modern Brazilian furnishings in their column titled Must Haves.  Brazilian modernist furniture pioneer Joaquim Tenreiro (1906-1992) kicked off their list of picks, with his appropriately named “Sleepwalker Armchair” taking center stage.  When speaking of the modern Brazilian furniture movement, Tenreiro is an undeniable influence.  He is largely known as the father of modern furniture in Brazil, leaving behind an unrivaled design legacy that is revered to this day.

“Mesa Triangular” Table by Joaquim Tenreiro.

Michaan’s 20th Century Design Auction will feature a classic Tenreiro dining table known as the “Mesa Triangular” ($30,000-40,000).  The piece is quite cheerful with its bright yellow, triangular table top, but there is also something wonderfully unusual and otherworldly about it.  Tenreiro believed that Brazilian furniture should be “…formally light…A lightness which has nothing to do with weight itself, but with graciousness, and the functionality of spaces.”  The shape is somewhat reminiscent of the classic Star Trek symbol; beam me up to auction, Scotty!

“Mesa Triangular” Table by Joaquim Tenreiro.

The “Mesa Triangular” table will be offered amongst over 140 lots of modern furniture and decorations on Saturday, July the 6th at 1:00 p.m.  Previews will be held in Michaan’s Main Gallery the day before as well as the day of sale. Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA 94501.