I’m constantly amazed at the superb quality, marvelous style and inventive materials used by the best French designers of the 1920s and 1930s. Case in point, this gorgeous eggshell, lacquer and chromium side table by Marcel Coard.
Everything about this table is precious, refined and well-proportioned. Starting with the ever-so slightly curved legs, which rest on silvered square plaques balanced on silver metal balls. These details are echoed with the tabletop sitting on larger metal silver bearings. And the material … eggshells? Really?!
This process of inlay was pioneered by the Japanese in which the eggshells are cleaned, mushed and finally delicately placed by hand on the surface, like teeny tiny mosaics, on a bed of lacquer which binds them to the surface. Then they are sanded down to smooth the surface and finished with another layer of lacquer to fill in any gaps. Amazingly, the pieces of this table are enclosed in adjacent rectangles surrounded by black lacquer and therefore form the small geometric shapes that we see.
What is MORE unreal is that the designer, because of the costly labor required, only used this technique and material on smaller surfaces like drawer fronts or boxes. Thus according to scholars, this is the ONLY table of this style known and therefore a truly unique collector’s piece.
image credit: Sotheby’s. The table was offered in the Important 20th Century Design Sale in New York on 15 December 2011, lot 78. Estimated US$250,000 – 350,000.
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