Object of the Week

‘Doge’ banquette, 2003

Christian Liaigre

By Anna Sansom / 14th April 2021
Christian Liaigre, 'Doge' bench, 2003. (Estimate: €4,500 - €6,500) COURTESY: Piasa / PHOTOGRAPH: © Xavier Defaix

Christian Liaigre, ‘Doge’ banquette, 2003. (Estimate: €4,500 – €6,500)
COURTESY: Piasa / PHOTOGRAPH: © Xavier Defaix

ON THURSDAY, 22ND April 2021, Piasa is auctioning 99 lots by the French furniture and interior designer Christian Liaigre (1943-2020), who was renowned for his elegant, pure and refined aesthetic. Minimal and discreet, Liaigre’s “style without the effects of style” – as it became known – ran counter-current to the flamboyance of the 1980s, the decade in which he emerged on the design scene. During his career, Liaigre favoured sleek lines and used natural or noble materials, such as woods, bronze and marble, to make furniture that was contemporary yet timeless.

Born in La Rochelle, the son of a vet and grandson of a racehorse breeder, Liaigre studied fine art and the decorative arts before teaching technical drawing. It was after becoming creative director of the French interiors company Nobilis that he started designing furniture. In 1984, he launched his eponymous brand in Paris and opened a showroom on the Left Bank. In the years that followed, he was commissioned to design the interior of Hôtel Montalembert in Paris and the Mercer Hotel in New York.

So revered was Liaigre that French President Emmanuel Macron’s office paid tribute to him following his death last September in a statement referring to “his sober lines, clear curves reminiscent of the elongated figures of a Giacometti and the full, pure forms of a Brancusi.”

One of the pieces of furniture that Liaigre excelled at designing was small sofas with bronze legs. Among these is the ‘Doge’ banquette (2003), in coppery gold velvet with bronze legs, that features in Piasa’s sale. It is estimated at €4,500-€6,500. According to Frédéric Chambre, director of Piasa’s design department, it embodies “minimalism, functionality and elegance with an eye on the history of design and an assimilation of luxurious materials and forms.”

The undulating form of the sofa’s backseat is inspired by eighteenth-century furniture design. Indeed, the banquette’s name recalls how such pieces would have been used by important government officials in the former Italian city-states of Venice and Genoa. Liaigre modernised and simplified the design with crisper lines, making it desirable and contemporary. The chosen colour exemplifies his preference for natural and earthy tones.

The 99 lots in Piasa’s sale come from Liaigre’s showrooms. The scenography and choice of pieces is intended to capture the spirit of a comfortable, unpretentious summer house. Amid the large white leather sofas, teak benches, oak tables, armchairs, bookcases, lamps and sisal rugs, the ‘Doge’ sofa stands out for its sleek but quiet formality.

Piasa’s sale Liaigre, Summer House takes place on 22nd April, 2021 at 17.00, 118 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008, Paris


Article by Anna Sansom
Article by Anna Sansom
Anna Sansom is a British journalist, based in Paris, who writes about contemporary art, design and architecture. View all articles by Anna Sansom