the collection of robert isabell : flora, light + steel

next weekend, the estate of robert isabell, the late floral designer and event planner extraordinaire goes on view at sotheby’s new york.  renowned for creating spaces for the most celebrated society events, I was intrigued to see his west village townhouse and to discover the objects with which he chose to surround himself.  as illustrated below, he juxtaposed the delicate lines of 1940s furniture from french designers against the more heavy and sculptural pieces from american studio designers– evoking his passion for floral installations, these pieces are all covered and illuminated by vignettes of sculptural works in iron, steel and light.
the new york times describes robert isabell’s interior landscape as “a combination of the lush foliage [he] had cultivated throughout the house and the plantlike forms of the rough-hewn metal sideboards and other pieces in his trove of mid-20th-century furniture and sculpture.”

the central atrium has a glass and steel bridge connecting his bedroom and dressing room .  at the center is an oversized showerhead allowing him to drench himself in his own private garden of ivy, orchids and bamboo.
view from atrium into the house . lot 35 giuseppe ravasio table lamp model no. G999, c. 1970 estimate $20-30,000
on top of a jean prouve dresser and below the rays of the serge mouille sconce rests a forest of laurel lamps, lot 97 estimate $800-1,200 . photograph from a robert isabell event
recalling his art of floral design, various organic light fixtures and one of many bertoia “bush” sculptures
a vignette of works by important american studio designers . lot 30 a harry bertoia sound sculpture c. 1970 estimate $50-70,000
a buffet by paul evans sits below a cabinet by his peer and fellow new hope, pa craftsman philip lloyd powell. detail, lot 74 a hanging cabinet, walnut and gold leaf, philip lloyd powell, c.1960 estimate $12-18,000
a paul evans settee and harry bertoia sculpture . i love the lines of this albert paley candlestick and bucket, lots 16 and 17
at the back of the property, a former blacksmith’s shop holds the “nickel couch,” by johnny swing, a vermont designer who spent three months welding thousands of nickels onto a patinated metal frame. lot 52 estimate $15,000 to $20,000
according to the NYT, “the principal beneficiary of the sale is the oak spring garden foundation, a charity for botanical studies founded by bunny mellon, the 99-year-old listerine heiress and philanthropist, who was mr. isabell’s closest friend.”
all images via nyt

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