Inspiration sometimes comes from a client’s expressed desires or from things I see around me; other times I wake up in the morning with an idea burning in my mind.

Vladimir Kagan

Birth of the Modern



Peter Loughrey was a talented pioneer motivated by a restless enthusiasm, crucially driven by the willingness to communicate, to share and to discover. An intuitive feel for the burgeoning interest in post-war design led Peter to establish the nascent LA Modern Auctions in 1992 — soon to evolve into the very first dedicated auction platform of its type. Although the initial turnover those first years was modest, LAMA’s impact and resonance was to spearhead a new era of collecting. With these auctions Peter, together with his wife and co-director Shannon, swiftly developed an interactive platform for what was evolving as an increasingly globalised tide of enthusiasts, dealers, curators and collectors. His auctions became a raison d’être, justification to what many of us were at the time tentatively yet willingly exploring. Here, in these auctions, post-war design was spot-lit centre stage, and celebrated as a movement in its own right.

If these initial auctions consolidated and gave focus to the market, then they also gave us an identity — achieved very simply through the semantics of the company that celebrated ‘modern’. A simple and obvious choice, but so influential and less cumbersome than the prevailing options of "twentieth century" or "post-war." Auctions at that time were traditionally associated with antiques, and there was a general disinterest within the trade to consider anything less than seventy years old as having any cultural or collectible value. Although this market had been described as being "modern" for some years already in the US, the word had not yet been internationalised beyond American shores to represent a collecting movement.

LAMA was established at exactly the right time. The zeitgeist was perfect, and helped guide many of us. Around this time I returned from the US and was shortly set to curate my first design auctions for Christie’s in London. Peter’s catalogues during this explorative period were invaluable. Perhaps difficult to understand now, in our era of immediate communication, but the fully illustrated printed LAMA catalogues were the equivalent of a fanzine that would be passed around, photocopied and then memorised. Nowhere else at the time was contained the detailed information that could allow us, many thousands of miles away in London, to distinguish between an early or a late example of, say, an Eames LCW, or to be exposed to the furniture of Schindler or Neutra. And crucially, there were prices. The prices meant that the market was real. And every so often there would be something in Peter’s sales — a trophy lying in wait for the knowledgeable — that would yield a revolutionary price, setting new records and issuing concentric ripples that gave us the confidence to recognise that our passion for this material was no daydream.

Peter had the fortune to discover his calling, and the certainty to pursue it, his delight for discovery underpinned by curatorial seriousness. Together with Shannon, LAMA established a keystone in the foundations of the modern market, flag-bearers of international design and with a global message. Today LAMA co-anchors a dedicated and influential network of US auction sites, all specialised graduates of that early era of modern discovery. A shared mission is always the most pleasurable, so thank you Peter, for helping guide the way.

Simon Andrews
Curator and advisor
Andrews Art Advisory

Vladimir Kagan

Vladimir Kagan was an illustrious American furniture designer whose historic career spanned nearly 65 years. Born in Germany in 1927, he immigrated with his family to the United States in 1938 fleeing from the rise of the Nazi regime. He studied architecture at Columbia and later apprenticed with his father, a master cabinetmaker, in his woodworking shop. In 1949, Kagan opened his own shop in New York, shortly thereafter releasing his first furniture collection, receiving the Museum of Modern Art, New York Good Design Award for his wrought-iron chair. His work is well-known for its avant-garde craftsmanship combined with comfort and functionality. The sensuous, organic forms take on human-like characteristics through exaggerated, curved lines. Kagan’s designs are produced with varying materials including brass, acrylic, aluminum and, most notably, wood.

Over the course of his career, his work was highly sought after by celebrity clientele from Marilyn Monroe to Tom Ford, and he lent his design to projects such as Disneyland’s Monsanto House of the Future in 1964 and the Downtown Los Angeles Standard Hotel lobby redesign in 2002. Kagan lectured extensively on the history of modern furniture design at institutions including Parsons School of Design, Yale and Philadelphia University. A highly honored designer, he was elected president of the American Society of Interior Designers New York Chapter in 1990, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and the American Society of Furniture Designers. In 2009, Kagan was inducted into the Interior Designer Hall of Fame.

Vladimir Kagan died in 2016, leaving behind an artistic legacy and lifetime of creative achievement.

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Auction Results Vladimir Kagan