Concepts and Ideas for Commercial Purposes | NEWSLETTER 16

Designing Auctions
Anything can be sold at an auction, including Burundian tea, license plates, the right to pollute, or chunks of the electromagnetic spectrum, which phone companies find alluring. Beside these an auction of modern design objects is straightforward: they’re refined and made with care, so they have value;
but there are lots of them, and they’re functional, so they fetch lower prices.
When Marianne Brandt’s silver plated tea infuser was auctioned off for $361,000 in 2007, it raised eyebrows. It shouldn’t have. As a rare 1920s prototype made in the Bauhaus studios yet never put into production, it fulfilled the criteria of uniqueness and fetishism that gets collectors (and prices) going. And it told a good story: a Bauhaus student becomes a master metalworker, but spends her last 40 years in GDR obscurity behind an iron curtain. That price looks low to me.
If auctioning design is so tough, it’s time to think about redesigning auctions. Auctions are commercial formats, like shops and markets. Their success, argues Paul Klemperer, depends on the principles of anti-trust. Basically, that there be open entry and no collusion, full disclosure and no price-fixing, a level playing field. Auction theory also warns against the “winner’s curse”, the purchaser’s sinking feeling that he’s outbid rivals by too much. Auction success is about commercial happiness.
This sets up the fun possibility where a designer could design the same auction where his work
is being sold. Which wouldn’t be any different from designing a shop for a brand selling objects
you’ve designed.
Jeffrey Swartz



Dorotheum Design auction.
Screaming News rug and Prototype of Free Port Cabinet.
Palais Dorotheum Vienna
22.11.2011, 17h

FLAMA lamp for Danese Milano. A lamp you rebuild and transform according to your light needs

Martí Guixé contributor on food design for Wired magazine Italy



RECENT PROJECTS | Beijing, Tokyo, Helsinki, Milan, Berlin


The head of the Arcimboldo of the Italian design
Creative Junctions in the first Beijing International Design Triennale, National Museum of China, Beijing

Shop display at Alessi Tokyo Flagship store
Tokyo Design Tide

Lapin Kulta Solar Kitchen Restaurant
Helsinki, see the videos

MyZoo: Whale
Series of workshops for children at Triennale Design Museum Kids, Milan


Smell time
O'Clock exhibition at Triennale Design Museum, Milan

Fahrradschrank prototype
Black Box exhibition, Qubique, Berlin



Copyright © by Martí Guixé. All rights reserved
16 Newsletter November 2011
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