The late designer is hot again, and for the first time in decades you can get a piece outside of the auction circuit.
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Only a few names from the furniture and interior-design world cross over from collectors to popular culture. Charles and Ray Eames, Marcel Breuer, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi… But not John Dickinson—until now. Dickinson, who died in 1982, was one of the 20th century’s most whimsical designers, and some of his most attention-grabbing work is, for the first time in decades, commercially available, at the David Sutherland Showroom.
It was Dickinson’s original furniture—typically made of solid plaster and featuring animal legs and feet—that particularly caught Sutherland’s eye back in 1980. The dealer first ran across Dickinson’s work at interior designer Angelo Donghia’s apartment in New York. “It was obvious that Angelo admired the several pieces he had, and he was quick to show me more and to introduce me to John,” recalls Sutherland today. Dickinson and Sutherland soon began trying to find a better material than plaster for the signature pieces, which cracked easily. When Dickinson died, Sutherland put in storage about a dozen samples of the work the two had been pursuing, and there they remained for almost three decades.
“It has been 27 years since these pieces have been in the market as a product, and I felt it was time to remember this great designer,” says Sutherland. The new Sutherland John Dickinson Collection begins with 13 pieces, including such classics as the African Table series, the Footed and Hoofed Tables, Table With Rope Tie, and Etruscan Table. Rather than plaster, the furniture is made from glass fiber–reinforced concrete, which means it can be used indoors or out.
“In the past four or five years, John’s pieces could be seen in various art auctions and were having a revival of interest,” says Sutherland. The originals demand premium prices at the auction houses, but, like a new Eames chair, the recent pieces make just as much of a statement at home.