5 minutes with… Coco Chanel’s chairs

5 minutes with… Coco Chanel’s chairs

Specialist Pauline de Smedt on two Diego Giacometti chairs owned by one of the 20th century’s most iconic designers

At the close of the Second World War, following the liberation of France, Coco Chanel moved to Switzerland. She lived there in self-imposed exile for ten years, only occasionally returning to Paris.

‘These chairs, designed by Diego Giacometti in around 1963, were kept in Chanel’s residence in the hills of Lausanne, on the banks of Lake Geneva,’ says Pauline de Smedt, Head of Design at Christie’s Paris.

The brother of Alberto GiacomettiDiego Giacometti became renowned for his furniture, producing tables, chairs and lights in collaboration with leading designers including Jean-Michel Frank.

Diego Giacometti (1902–1985), A pair of Pommeaux de Canne armchairs, circa 1963. Patinated bronze, brass, patinated iron, suede, H 32½ x L 20? x D 19? in (H 82.5 x L 52.5 x D 50 cm). These chairs were offered in Design Vente du Soir on 25 May 2016 at Christie’s in Paris and sold for €685,500

Diego Giacometti (1902–1985), A pair of Pommeaux de Canne armchairs, circa 1963. Patinated bronze, brass, patinated iron, suede, H 32½ x L 20? x D 19? in (H 82.5 x L 52.5 x D 50 cm). These chairs were offered in Design Vente du Soir on 25 May 2016 at Christie’s in Paris and sold for €685,500

Diego and Alberto Giacometti were close collaborators (a third brother, Bruno, found success as an architect). ‘The pair would often work together,’ says de Smedt. ‘Diego would often do the patinas for Alberto’s bronzes, and Diego helped to produce a series of lamps based on his brother’s original designs.  

‘Although we don’t know much about the relationship between Coco Chanel and Diego Giacometti, we do know they frequented the same circles, and she had other works by the Giacomettis in her apartment,’ the specialist continues. 

While in Switzerland, Chanel received treatments at the Valmont clinic. ‘Chanel grew close to her doctor,’ de Smedt continues. ‘These chairs were given to him by Chanel as a sign of her gratitude towards him, and remained in the doctor’s family until being sold at Christie’s in May 2016.’

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