Online auctions 2017: design trends and insights from Barnebys

How has global demand for the most sought-after designers changed in last decade? A new report from leading art and auction search engine Barnebys reveals some surprising trends.

Online auctions 2017: design trends and insights from Barnebys

The report, ‘Barnebys 2017 Online Auction Report: 15 Designated Designers – Trends and Insights’, focuses on the development of the global market for fifteen of the most sought-after names in contemporary design.

Among other things, the report reveals astonishing growth in demand for 20th century design, with the market for design increasing by almost 330 percent between 2009 and 2016.

“Today, anyone can get their hands on iconic design furniture for a very modest price, while international collectors continue to pay millions for furniture and design objects of the highest quality,” says Pontus Silfverstolpe, co-founder of Barnebys, the leading online search service for arts, antiques and rarities.

The report’s findings are based on an analysis of more than 31 million realised auction prices from 315 auction houses in 29 countries. It focuses on works by 15 ‘designated designers’ from Denmark, France, Finland, Sweden, and the United States and estimates their total market value in 2016 at €38.3 million.

The growth is due in large part to the increased transparency and access that comes with online auctions, which provide more opportunities for more people to buy iconic design furniture.

''Barnebys has opened the auction industry to the masses, making a world of unique, quality items available to everyone,” adds Silfverstolpe.

According to the report, collectors are paying considerable attention to design, with prices on a limited supply of unique, high-end design pieces getting boosted to fine-art market status in some cases.

And while established designers may drop in price, collectors continue to hunt for the next trendy designer in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough that could pay big dividends later on.

“Buying design is a better investment than, say, buying art, no matter what the price range,” says Barnebys co-founder and CEO Christopher Barnekow. “Achieving a more personal, beautiful interior is a bonus.”

Find your own design treasure with Barnebys

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Barnebys.


Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.