Admired globally for his glamorous design schemes for hotels, bars, restaurants (including The Wolseley and The Delaunay), boutiques and private residences, the late David Collins is sorely missed in the world of interior decoration. Following his death last year, many of the pieces that furnished his own home will be sold at Christie’s London on Tuesday November 4 (with viewing from Friday October 31), giving those inspired by his work the opportunity to recreate his subtly luxurious style.
Among 200 lots are furniture, lighting, home accessories and artworks by 20th-century luminaries including Jean Royère, Line Vautrin and Fontana Arte. A set of four elegant chairs designed in 1937 by Andre Arbus (estimate £2,000-£3,000), a pair of glazed black and white ceramic vases created around 1930 by Jean Besnard (£3,000-£5,000), a sunburst mirror dating from around 1955 and signed by Vautrin (£20,000-£30,000) and a pair of Klismos chairs, designed in 1961 by TH Robsjohn-Gibbings (£2,000-£3,000) typify the pieces Collins chose to live with. His stylish practicality is particularly evident in his choice of lighting: a pair of two-arm wall lights designed by Serge Mouille around 1953 (£7,000-£10,000), a pair of gilt brass wall lights created by Gio Ponti around 1965 (£2,500-£3,500) and a pair of articulated nickel-plated table lamps designed by Edouard Wilfred Buquet in 1927 (£1,500-£2,500).
There are also contemporary eye-catchers such as the set of six green silk Churchill armchairs designed by Philippe Hurel (£2,500-£4,000) and, inevitably, many bespoke pieces designed by David Collins Studio, including a pair of cabinets with eelskin-upholstered doors (£10,000-£15,000), a pair of six-fold straw-marquetry screens (£4,000-£6,000) and a Voyager chest of drawers covered in blue suede with leather handles (£4,000-£6,000, second picture).
Among the artworks are several captivating oil paintings, including Jean Souverbie’s Tête de Femme (£2,000-£3,000), Manfredi Beninati’s Peri Thia Carolina (£2,000-£3,000) and Christian Berard’s Young Boy (£4,000-£6,000). A number of charming accessories include a 19th-century Cartier cigarette case designed to look like an envelope (£2,000-£3,000), a strikingly decorated metal umbrella stand created by Piero Fornasetti around 1955 (£800-£1,200, fourth picture), two coloured-glass Daum vases, c1930 (£1,500-£2,500) and a modern Hermès Clipper travel clock (£1,000-£1,500). Collins loved collecting Vautrin’s intriguing metal boxes (about which I interviewed him for How to Spend It some years ago) and those offered here include the signed, fishy-lidded Aquarium (£7,000-£10,000, third picture) from the 1940s. Perhaps the most nostalgic piece of all, however, is the blue suede French desk (£4,000-£6,000, first picture) at which Collins would sit, gazing at his garden. Simple, glamorous and distinctive, it perfectly sums up his inimitable style.