Designer Juan Montoya Has Entered His ‘Less Is More’ Era—For Now

A chameleon of styles, Montoya is celebrated for his prowess of coalescing aesthetics into harmonious interiors. His designs are never one-note, nor is his curation for today’s auction. When it comes to collecting, Montoya’s preferences are rooted less in period or provenance and more in wonder. “It’s an instinct,” the designer says of his approach. “It’s the whole concept of how you perceive art and objects—even how you perceive the comfort of a chair.”

Works pull from his travels to the Dominican Republic, Sweden, Kuwait, and his native Colombia, among other favored destinations. It spans his horde of replica plaster forms of the Aztec and Mayan languages, which he says “represent a period of my collecting. I have incorporated the forms into screens and headboards for clients, and even fabricated a screen in all-black for myself.” There are also fine art works by Robert Courtright, Sol LeWitt, Helmut Lang, and Xavier Mascaró. Of the latter’s sculptures, Montoya says, “I have so many that I decided I could trim some of them by putting them for sale.”

Many of the some 270 pieces have been plucked from various Montoya abodes—or, as the designer puts it, the “melange of locations in which I’ve been able to assemble.” Among those is his New York apartment, which long featured the auction-bound trio of Coronet lounge chairs by Juan Montoya for Century Icons, the designer’s ebonized Branch table for Century Furniture, and a bronze Cercle sculpture by Bruno Romeda—a centerpiece of the art collection assembled in his primary bedroom. Auction finds also cull from Montoya’s country home in the Hudson River Valley, as well as residences in Miami and Paris (which AD published in February 1988, September 2006, September 2007, respectively).

This welcomed downsize is more than a Marie Kondo experiment. For Montoya, that thrill of the antique hunt is mirrored in the process of letting go. “One of the great things about this auction is that I didn’t want to have a sale after my death,” he says. “I wanted to see the interest and reactions that people can have in buying what I have collected for many years.”

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