I am often asked if the designer of a piece adds value and the answer to that question is an overwhelming "yes". There are many companies that employ famous artists to design pieces for them that in turn end up in the company's production lines at high prices.
The first company that comes to mind is Rookwood Pottery. When I started showing interest in this pottery, it was hard for me to evaluate the production pieces. Yes, the prices for the one of a kind artist signed items seemed fair to me, but not the common production pieces. The reason that the more common production pieces differed in price was because many of them were designed by the better artists and the collector was willing to pay more for them. It took me a little time to fully appreciate this fact but now I am more comfortable with it. A vase designed by Kataro Shirayamadani will bring far more in the marketplace than a piece by a less well known artist.
Daum France is another company where the designer of a piece makes it command a significant increase in value. I have owned several limited edition pieces of Daum and usually they will be priced in the thousands, while it is rare to see the more common Daum pieces priced at over $1000 in the secondary market. In my blog from Sunday, I mentioned that I had purchased a Daum piece at the house sale I attended but what I didn't mention was its value. The wonderful piece that is displayed on a large custom made stand retails for almost $9000. Your first question is "Why?" The title of this magnificent glass sculpture is "Les Mains Sales" which means "dirty hands" and that is the subject matter of the sculpture. When a light is placed behind the piece it comes to life with an eerie stare of a man looking through his hands. But what gives it the value is that it was designed by Roland Topor, a well respected designer, and there are only 250 of these pieces in existence, making it very difficult to find since most of these pieces are already in advanced collections.
In the future as you search for those special treasures to add into your inventory, please be aware of who actually designed them because this can make a difference between passing them by or making a ton of money when your resell the item. When you are dealing in the rare and unusual, these little tips will pay off for you in spades. While other dealers are just looking at every piece by a particular company as the same and lumping them all together, this is where you will shine and while they leave disgusted, you may find it hard to control your smile knowing that the item you just purchased will make your month.
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