Just before Christmas, video-artist Nam June Paik’s ironic little aluminium robot with industrial-type blinker lights was sold at a New York contemporary art auction for the reasonable sum of $1600. This cute little hominid with a red light in the centre of its chest, of which only 90 copies were made, had certainly become a totem object. But it was also, quite simply, a lamp.
A couple of weeks earlier, the Nino Rota plastic swivelling armchair designed by Ron Arad and produced by Cappellini in 1990 - in only about 90 pieces on account of the high production costs - went under the hammer, again for the reasonable price at 1300 Euros.
This is one indication of how two very distinct worlds - art and design - are weighing in at similar market values for products made around the same time by creators of similar distinction, and boasting the same ‘rarity index’.