An armchair from the former collection of the Wolleh family can be seen as a true time capsule. Danilo Silvestrin’s revolutionary design in Plexiglas and silver-coloured fabric from 1969 bears witness to Wolleh’s interest in contemporary design and to his involvement in the activities of the international 1960s avant-garde.
Italian-born designer Danilo Silvestrin (1942) was a close friend of Düsseldorf-based artist Günther Uecker. In 1967, they created elaborate designs for the Creamcheese nightclub in Düsseldorf, together with film-maker Lutz Mommartz and artist Ferdinand Kriwet. Lothar Wolleh most likely got to know Silvestrin through his connection with Uecker and Kriwet.
It was with an obvious wink that German magazine Der Stern referred to Silvestrin’s design as ‘an Apollo 12 for domestic use’, showing a photograph of the Plexiglas chair in Wolleh’s Düsseldorf apartment.
Space travel and the promises of the unknown appealed to the imagination of many artists and designers of the day. In 1965, Lothar Wolleh photographed Lucio Fontana’s hands, stretched out in front of an infinite structure of punctures in canvas. Notions of space and infinity were leading for Fontana, and the title of this early catalogue, to which Lothar Wolleh contributed, is telling: colección nueva órbita, the ‘new orbit collection’.
A strong sense of aesthetics
Wolleh was a prominent figure in the Rhineland art scene, with a visionary take on presenting art, and Silvestrin’s designs fitted right in. More than ‘showing pieces’ by the artists he had portrayed, Wolleh ‘sold’ a lifestyle in the outright avant-garde setting of his Düsseldorf penthouse, with one-off designer pieces and ‘museum-size’ works by his artist friends. Lothar Wolleh had a strong sense of aesthetics, felt the pulse of the times and had an impeccable instinct for what would become ‘the next big thing’.