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Ettore Sottsass, 'Y28', estimated at £600-£800 ($760-$1,000) at Sworders.

Max Clendinning and Ralph Adron estate comes to Sworders July 9

STANSTED MOUNTFITCHET, UK — The Tuesday, July 9 Design sale at Sworders includes 106 lots from the estate of architect and interior designer Max Clendinning (1924-2020) and theater designer Ralph Adron (1939-2023). The couple, who first met in 1960 when Clendinning was already an established name in British design and Adron was a student at the Slade School of Fine Art, shared extraordinary homes in Islington in north London, and also Umbria, in Italy.

It is the extraordinary mixture of furnishings from different eras — described in one magazine article as ‘miximalism’ — that provides the collection with its ‘wow’ factor.

Adron had bought Victorian design objects and furniture since the 1950s, his first purchase being William de Morgan tiles from a market stall in Croydon, England for which he paid sixpence each. He held a particular fondness for the Aesthetic movement, including the distinctive ebonized and ceramic mantel clocks designed by Lewis Foreman Day (1845-1910). There are several examples in the sale estimated at between £200-£500 ($255-$635) each.

Italian Modernism and post-Modernism were both a key source of inspiration. Clendinning first visited Italy in 1953 on a British Council scholarship and Italian design —vernacular, historic, and modern — had enormous impact on both his own design work and his collecting impulses. This cross-section of works includes objects designed for Vistosi Murano in the 1970s and others designed as part of the Memphis Group in the 1980s. Max discovered the three white Yantra di Terracotta series vases outside a local shop in Umbria — he bought two for next to nothing and, years later, returned to find the third, which he had regretted not buying, still there and being used as a doorstop.

Completing the look was a series of bespoke pieces designed and created by Max Clendinning himself for his own home. These include a black lacquered cabinet with a marble top that was specifically designed to accommodate a large Picasso Madoura stoneware landscape charger bought in 1976. The Picasso dish is estimated at £4,000-£6,000 ($5,100-$7,600), and the cabinet is estimated at £800-£1,200 ($1,000-$1,500).

The Clendinning-Adron home featured regularly in journals such as Vogue Living (in 1967), World of Interiors (1996), the New York Times (2003) and the Financial Times (2022). Some rooms were recreated for the retrospective exhibition Max Clendinning: A Life in Design at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2006.