Top Design, Details May 2008


You don’t have to be an obsessive collector or an Antiques Roadshow addict to buy at auction anymore. Over the past 15 years, a handful of boutique houses have emerged that specialize in design both modern (like George Nelson) and postmodern (like Ettore Sottsass). The result is a micro-universe of new places to get sought-after furniture—minus the intimidation factor of Sotheby’s and Christie’s. And you can browse without feeling like you have to buy. “Most people don’t realize that you can talk to a specialist on the floor for an hour and never bid on anything,” says Jennifer Olshin, director of the Friedman Benda gallery in New York. “Plus, reserves are often 70 to 80 percent below the low estimate, so you can still get lucky if no one else is bidding.” Here are five of the best auction houses for pressure-free design hunting…

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