Collecting Design, cover

By Adam Lindemann, Taschen, 300 pages, $39.99

Carlo Mollino

This mid-century oak-and-glass table sold at auction for a whopping $3.8 million in 2005. That was a before-crash price, of course, but as Lindemann tells it, furniture by Mollino -- a beloved Italian architect and designer -- is still plenty robust.

Gaetano Pesce

Another Italian favorite among design doyens, Pesce was obsessed with creating furniture out of a single material -- resin -- as the table at left shows. New York dealer Murray Moss compares him to "a painter or a musician who stays with the same tools… brilliant, always surprising and always new."

Alessandro Guerriero

Guerriero founded an avant-garde design group in the 1970s called Studio Alchimia. Dennis Freedman (of W mag fame, now with Barneys) counts among his collectors.

George Nakashima

Many of the most prized furniture designers were trained as architects, like the Japanese-American wood-worker Nakashima. His Arlyn table is shown here.

Joaquim Tenreiro

Portuguese-born Tenreiro hand-carved this three-legged chair fewer than 50 times and never actually sold it; instead, he gave it away to loyal patrons. As a result, New York dealers Zesty Meyers and Evan Snyderman call it "his most coveted design." At least that’s how they justify its astronomical $300,000 price tag.

Joe Colombo

Colombo died young -- at just 41, of heart failure -- but was able to draw on new 20th-century technologies, like plastic, to revolutionize the furniture industry during his brief career. His work is valued alongside fellow mid-century Italian design-stars Achille Castiglioni, Gio Ponti, and Ettore Sottsass.

Marc Newson

Newson still seems to be a solid investment. His Lockheed Lounge at left recently traded at over $2 million -- more than 50 times its original cost!

Joris Laarman

Generally, collectors are wary of young designers. That includes Freedman. Thanks to CNC tech and rapid prototyping, they "have the technological capability to create work that was unimaginable a decade ago," he says. "However, technological advances do not translate into artistic achievement." One exception he cites is Holland-based Laarman, who created the Bone Chair, shown here, using software based on the principle of bone growth.

Co.Design

9 of the World's Most Collectible Furniture Pieces [Slideshow]

Adam Lindemann's "Collecting Design" is your complete guide to scooping up the best 20th-century furniture.

So you want to be a modern-day Rich Uncle Pennybags and convince your friends you've got better taste than Ronald Lauder and Karl Lagerfeld combined. Do we have the book for you!

Collecting Design, by industry heavyweight Adam Lindemann, is a handbook on "the collectability [sic] and overall desirability of design" — furniture design, to be precise — which is classy way of phrasing what we're not too classy to say: This is THE field guide to getting filthy rich off of stuff you can sit on.

The focus is 20th-century furniture. Through interviews with 32 insiders, from collectors and tastemakers to dealers and auction-house experts, Lindemann roughs out the shape of the design marketplace today.

What's valuable and what would get laughed off of Antiques Roadshow will surprise you. We learn, for instance, that Dutch design master Gerrit Rietveld is auction-house gold, his famous Red Blue Chair a sort of furniture-world equivalent of the Holtermann Nugget. Eames, on the other hand, is so over-saturated you couldn't get beans for an original at auction. Likewise Mies van der Rohe's lovely, but ubiquitous, Barcelona chair.

Lindemann — a New York investor and collector whose most recent book covered the contemporary art market — is quick to say that Collecting Design isn't the final word on Eames or Rietveld or anyone for that matter; rather, he's presenting "a range of options and enough market information to jump-start your own exploration of this fascinating field."

Still, if you happen to have bucket loads of dough you're just dying to throw at furniture, and you see someone like Lagerfield — Karl frickin' Lagerfield, one of several mega-watt names interviewed here (Ronald Lauder's included, too) — singing the praises of Australian designer Marc Newson, you could probably do worse than Newson's Lockheed Lounge. If all else fails, it's always something (relatively) comfy to lie on. Can't say the same about the Warhols.

[Buy the book for $29 on Amazon]

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