AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Thu Mar 14 2013 17:41:52

LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders

By: Julia Wilkinson

Sponsored Link

In part II of our series on Mid-Century Modern and Hollywood Regency (and is one edging out the other), we spoke to expert Peter Loughrey, who is Director, Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA). He shared with us his thoughts on both styles, and a certain Danish Modern chair by Hans Wegner which sold in a recent LA Modern auction for $13,750, a new high for this design at their venue. Interestingly, this exact type of chair also was one of the highest-priced Mid-Century Modern items to sell on eBay recently.

AB: Do you think mid-century modern is giving way to the "Hollywood Regency" style in terms of what's hot or trendy in the Antiques and design world? Why or why not?

PL: I think Hollywood Regency is certainly getting a wider appeal. It may never be appealing to a number of mid-century modern collectors, but in my opinion one will never replace or give way to the other.

Most owners of simple post-and-beam houses built in the 50's ( there are hundreds of thousands) will always recognize that classic mid-century modern is the best fit for their type of architecture. I can't see Hollywood Regency replacing it there. However, where there is a larger, more generously proportioned house, like those in the Trousdale neighborhood of Los Angeles, I can see Hollywood Regency really taking hold. These houses call for more grandeur and drama.

AB: How would you define "Hollywood Regency" -- what are some good examples of this?  Are there some pieces that stand out that you've auctioned recently, say that commanded particularly high prices?

PL: To me, Hollywood Regency is any style of furniture that has a mostly modern aesthetic with some classical elements which are usually simplified or stylized.  Also, typically [it] will have a richer material surface than Mid Century Modern. Silks (especially with tassels), silver plated hardware, mirrored or reflective tiled surfaces, and matching painted surfaces are often overused.

We have sold some pieces by Billy Haines, and Paul Laszlo recently, but they have only recently been described as Hollywood Regency. I've been selling them as Mid Century Modern, albeit a fancier quality for 25 years.

AB: Speaking of "Mid-century Modern"; what other pieces have been interesting or done well that you've come across? Do you think this craze was due to the "Mad Men" factor, or other factors, or a combo?

PL: Danish Modern is a good segment of Mid-Century Modern that has been doing well lately.  The "Papa" chair by Hans Wegner in our last auction sold for $13,750, a new high for this design at our venue. I think “Mad Men” has played a bigger role in fashion than furnishings. Most of what's on the show is anonymous anyway, so it doesn't appeal to our type of collector.  Besides, we have been selling Mid Century Modern consistently since the mid 80's. Mad Men is what, 5 years old?

AB: What kind of person or collector, if there can be said to be a "type," is into MCM and/or Hollywood Regency? Twentysomethings, celebrities, etc.?

PL: Our collectors now represent all age groups and demographics. In the beginning, it was easier to describe a Mid Century Modern collector.

In the 80's they were typically 30-somethings (baby boomers), many with a new sense of financial freedom. They were interested in collecting, but thought the prevailing styles of Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau were too traditional and they remembered Mid-Century Modern growing up (‘that cool family down the street had Eames chairs and Herman Miller cabinets’).

So, they were more inclined to buy what they remembered. Also, it was Retro and cool to buy at swap meets and junk stores, especially for what was then very low prices. It was not an investment or even enough to really have to consider with care.

AB: Thank you, Peter!


Are you interested in Mid-Century Modern style, or is it too, well, modern for you (depsite now being over 50 years old!). If not, what decorating style do you prefer? Is there a period you look to buy to resell, such as Art Deco, Victorian, etc.? Post a comment here!

Comments (3) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders   LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders

by: JoyfulA This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 15 12:36:08 2013

Too modern for me---it's what I grew up with!
But I'm wondering about "papa chair." I'd never heard the term before it came up on FreeCycle about a year ago. People give away a "papa chair" fairly often. Are they giving away these potentially valuable MCM chairs (which IMHO are ugly and too low to be comfortable) or is "papa chair" a generic term covering any fairly wide chair that isn't a recliner?

Perminate Link for LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders   LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 17 15:44:51 2013

Love MCM. I studied interior design and furniture design in the early 60s at BU and that was during the MCM heyday. Had a great professor who designed furniture for some of the big houses of the time, maybe DUX, for one, if I remember corrctly.

It will always be a classic style.

I looked over your site, Mr. Loughrey. It brought back a lot of memories.  

Perminate Link for LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders   LA Modern on MCM Papa Chairs and Other $10,000 Wonders

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Mon Mar 18 13:52:49 2013

Hi Joyful and Harriet!
Joyful, I too grew up with MCM..well for the two years my family was ''nuclear'' In fact there's a funny pic in my baby book with this funky modern white furniture! I put it on my facebook and got lots of comments.
So I didn't like MCM for a while, but now am becoming interested it it for its desginers and yeah, frankly to hope to resell! ;) I'm going to look for Papa chairs etc at estate sales..I didn't think of Freecycle tho..good idea! ;)

Harriet, glad u enjoyed the post!


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.