At the end of March there is an important auction in Paris. Among the lots this desk with chair by Rene Herbst (1891-1982)
Trained as an architect in Paris, London and Frankfurt, Rene Herbst was a versatile and prolific exponent of Modernism who sought to democratize the avant-garde. Originally an early supporter of Art Deco, Herbst swiftly asserted an identity that embraced the use of progressive new materials within fully resolved interior schemes. Herbst had been quick to recognize that the promotion of good, modern design would be swiftly accepted by the wider public when presented through public environments. Consequently, the styling and interior decoration of the five boutiques that Herbst created for the 1925 Exposition Internationale showcased his progressive vision and led to commissions to design the interiors of the Jean Puiforcat and Siegel boutiques, and the Prunier restaurants in London and Paris. During this period Herbst had been among the first to consider the importance of tubular steel in the serial-production of furniture, and his ‘Sandows’ chair of 1928 – which dispensed with traditional upholstery in favour of exposed rubber springs – represented a statement of breathtaking modernity. Similarly, Herbst’s concepts for lighting were strongly architectural structures that sought to exploit the reflective qualities of chrome-plating and the brillance of electric light. A founding member of the UAM, Herbst undertook numerous collaborations with other members, including selections for the interior of the palace of the Maharaja of Indore, and bespoke modernist furniture for the Parisian townhouse of the Aga Khan, alongside varied commercial commissions that included steel furnishings for ocean liners, and exhibition design.
A sycamore, walnut and chromed steel desk, fitted with nickeled brass reading lamp and three frieze drawers, together with a corresponding desk chair, with chromed steel frame and white leather upholstery, by René Herbst, for his own use, 1928