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Bowie / Collector

Bowie Portrait_Bowie_Aram

“Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment.  I use it. It can change the way I feel in the mornings. The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through.”

-              David Bowie


Last week we visited Sotheby’s ‘Bowie / Collector’ auction, prompted by our interest in the late musician’s Memphis Group collection. Bowie had been a keen collector of the postmodern design collective founded by Ettore Sottsass, and had amassed an extensive range of works by the group. One hundred original pieces, to be exact, from ostentatious armchairs to graphic porcelain homewares. Unsurprisingly the outlandish designs did not disappoint and the auction smashed all expectations. What was most unexpected was the breadth of Bowie’s collection. We were captivated by artworks from 20th Century British Art, Contemporary African Art, Outsider Art and Surrealism (to name only a few). It seemed evident that Bowie was not buying for investment purposes alone - instead he seemed to be spurred by a genuine interest. The collection was for him a source of inspiration, or as he is quoted “a stable nourishment”.


Memphis Furniture_Bowie_Aram Collection of works by Michele de Lucchi: First chairs, Polar side tables and Flamingo side table.


John Virtue_Landscape No. 87_Bowie_Aram 1 Landscape No. 87 by John Virtue


Man Ray_Chess Set_Bowie_Aram 1 Chess Set by Man Ray


Sotheby’s has produced two insightful interviews with art advisor Kate Chertavian and curator Beth Greenacre, both of whom worked closely with Bowie over extensive periods of time. They describe him as being inquisitive, highly informed and enthusiastic about art and design. Greenacre explains the scope of the collection saying “I always think about his collecting in a similar way to how his mind worked. So you could be sitting with David, you could have a conversation about a painting – all of a sudden you’d be talking about Nietzsche, which would then lead him to a new film release or book that I had to read, then back to another artist via Japanese folk art. There were all these beautiful networks between the works within his collection.” She then goes on to say “When people look at the collection as a whole, they’ll probably look at a few works and not quite understand why they are there. But then you’ll realise that X taught Y, or Z visited X. There are all these amazing associations and I think that’s how David worked.”


Ettore Sottsass_Carlton Room Divider_Bowie_Aram 1 Carlton room divider by Ettore Sottsass


Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni_Radio Phonograph_Bowie_Aram 1 Radio-Phonograph Model No. RR126 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni


Joe Tilson RA_Reflector Column Ziglical I_Bowie_Aram 1 Reflector Column, Ziglical I by Joe Tilson, R.A.


We sell a broad range of furniture and lighting by many designers whose early works are now selling for high figures at auction.  Twelve pieces in the Bowie / Collector lot by Michele de Lucchi from his decorative Memphis period were sold.  The designer’s later mass produced Tolomeo lamp series for Artemide has been available at Aram Store since we opened in 2002.  It remains a favourite range for architects and designers as well as for domestic use.  Ettore Sottsass’ Casablanca sideboard sold for £68,000 at Sotheby’s.  In 2015 Italian manufacturer Kartell produced a ‘Kartell goes Sottsass – A Tribute to Memphis’ collection, which revisited previously unreleased designs. From this range are the Colonna and Pilastro plastic table-stools that currently retail at £210 each.

Despite not having joined the group, Achille and Pier Castiglioni’s charming radio-phonograph machine was amongst the Bowie collection. The brothers - whose work varied from the organic Viscontea pendant lamp to the surreal Sella stool - were part of the same generation of forward-thinking Milanese creatives.

In total we stock products by six designers who for a slice of their long careers were involved with the Memphis Group. Highlighted below are some of their most interesting work, as well as our standout pieces from Bowie / Collector.


Michele de Lucchi_Continental Side Table_Bowie_Aram 1 Continental side table by Michele de Lucchi


Michele De Lucchi_Tolomeo Light_Artemide Tolomeo table lamp by Michele de Lucchi for Artemide Ettore Sottsass_Stools_Kartell Collonna, Calice and Pilasto stools by Ettore Sottsass for Kartell. These are currently only available in-store.


Ettore Sottsass_Pepper Grinder_Alessi MP0210 pepper, salt and spice grinder by Ettore Sottsass


Ettore Sottsass_Callimaco Uplighter_Artemide_Aram Callimaco uplighter floor lamp by Ettore Sottsass for Artemide


Romuald Hazoume_Le Saxophoniste_Bowie_Aram 1 From the auction: Le Saxophoniste by Romuald Hazoumè


Norman Catherine_Fanagalo Store_Bowie_Aram From the auction: Cat Man and Back Chat II figures both by Norman Catherine


NATHALIE DU PASQUIER_BOMBAY SIDE TABLE_Bowie_Aram From the auction: Bombay side table by Nathalie du Pasquier


Shiro Kuramata_Progetti Compiuti Side 1_Cappellini_Aram Memphis Group: Progetti Compiuti Side 1 cabinet (aka Drawer in an Irregular Form) by Shiro Kuramata for Cappellini, 1970.



Marco Zanuso_Antonio Side Table From the auction: Antonio table by Marco Zanuso


Marco Zanuso_Lady Armchair_Aram Memphis Group: Lady armchair by Marco Zanuso for Cassina


Alessandro Mendini_Proust Mendini Armchair_Cappellini_Aram Memphis Group: Proust Mendini chair by Alessandro Mendini for Cappellini



Javier Mariscal_Villa Julia_Magis_Aram Memphis Group: Villa Julia Playhouse by Javier Mariscal for Magis.


Javier Mariscal_The Art Book Javier Mariscal’s cover for The Art Book (Phaidon)


Jean Michel Basquiat_Untitled_Bowie_Aram From the auction: Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat