An Eye for Sculptural Design

Dennis Freedman's Collection of Unconventional Lighting and Furniture

Although furniture was the primary focus of Dennis Freedman’s collecting impulses, his interest wasn’t necessarily functional objects for their own sake, but furniture as a stand in for fine art. He gravitated to pieces that could exist in a space primarily as sculpture, and embraced collectible design as a still-emerging category in which he could build a museum-quality collection on a modest budget.

Freedman has long favored forms that reminded him of famous artists he admired. For instance: a Garrouste & Bonetti Barbare chair with cowhide seat, its patinated-steel frame interpreted as an homage to Piero Giacometti. Many of Freedman’s most prized possessions are by artists who also made limited-edition or one-off furniture: bronze armchairs by Polish designer and sculptor Bronislaw Krzysztof, a table set by French midcentury sculptor Martine Boileau, and unique lamps by conceptual artist Gianni Colombo.

The latter is but one example of lighting by notable radical Italian design figures of the 1960s through ‘80s that were more akin to tabletop sculptures than functional illumination. Among them are Fulvio Ferrari’s Ameba, crafted of a Volkswagen hubcap, and Fabrizio Cocchia’s compelling Ziggurat, both celebrated pieces that have made museum rounds. Freedman also acquired a prized BT2 steel and acrylic table lamp designed by Gianni Gamberini and Studio A.R.D.I.T.I.

Other prominent names represented in the collection include Gae Aulenti, Rinaldo Cutini, and Peter Shire. All are exceptional and rare pieces Freedman unearthed through obsessive research and discovery, his curiosity rewarded—doubly so, as the value for these designs has exploded over time.

The Dennis Freedman Collection is on view April 20–August 11, 2023.