Perfect vintage

by Kay Hill

Interior trends come and go, but vintage furniture remains enduringly popular. Kay Hill investigates its evergreen appeal


IF THERE IS ONE over-arching reason why vintage design remains popular – even among clients who could afford bespoke furniture – it’s the need for individuality. “People have moved away from wanting a show home, especially in London, as these have no personality,” says interior designer Maurizio Pellizzoni. “They want something that’s their own, not something they have seen in a magazine 20 times before. A vintage piece makes a scheme unique.” Designer Emilie Fournet, founder of Emilie Fournet Interiors, was brought up in France

Above: At Stedsans, which features on The Modern Marketplace all the vintage furniture is reupholstered and fi lled with materials that meet modern fi re safety precautions.

with a mother who loved fl ea markets. “It’s in my DNA,” she says. “I will specify a vintage piece as something unique and original. I always try to fi nd a balance of new and old as it adds personality to a room.” Melissa Hamilton, interior design director at Studio Indigo adds: “We use vintage in around 50% of our projects. Most people value it because it represents character and makes a home feel like it has been lived in.” Adam Hills, co-founder of salvage company Retrouvius, agrees. “It’s about individuality and giving people a feeling of history,” he says. “There are so many ways of getting yourself curated, so many people telling you how you should live, whether you follow Monocle or the Kardashians. Vintage makes an interior look like it has some historical depth.” While according to Richard Parr, architect at Richard Parr + Associates, “people are becoming more adventurous and design-aware. They are not as rigid about conforming as previous generations. They aren’t reliant on certain shops to dictate what their taste should be any more.” Clients who love vintage cut right across all age groups. “Many of our older clients grew up yearning for the modern design of their youth but are only now in a fi nancial position to afford them, whereas the younger customers are discovering cool, fashionable designs they are seeing in the must-read magazines or the latest Bond movie set,” explains Michael Marks, founder of 20th Century Marks, a regular attender at the Modern Shows which specialise in vintage. Most clients don’t want to create a historical set but are yearning for a sense of history and permanence. “People who buy Mid-century pieces enjoy the feel and look of vintage – the patina and the story it has to tell appeal to them,” Tanya Pateman, marketing associate at Modern Shows, notes. “We have become bored of mass-produced throwaway furniture with no life or soul.

People love mixing Mid-century iconic pieces with modern design - that is why the Midcentury Modern show became so popular. It makes for a loved and lived-in home and a personal, individual environment.” Tony Freud, editorial director at online vintage and antique marketplace 1stdibs, has seen the mix-and-match approach develop. “When the craze for Mid-century modern fi rst started 20 years ago, I knew houses that were recreations of the era, with every piece looking the part as if it was from a museum,” he says. “We are seeing less of that period- perfect design now; people are mixing these pieces with other things. So much of what is being made today really echoes the style of those Mid-century pieces, so they work well together.” Hamilton adds: “A piece of Gabriella Crespi furniture will sit very well next to something contemporary or an 18th-century piece and will look beautiful regardless. I love the tension between the old and the new.”

Andrew Fletcher, also a founder of 20th Century Antiques, agrees. “Some of my clients live in Mid-century properties and want to furnish the interiors with period pieces,” he says. “But most people have more eclectic tastes, mixing Mid-century with contemporary and earlier pieces which makes for interesting and textural interiors.” Customers “aren’t so blinkered that they have to have everything from 1956”, according to Hills. “Now they will bring in Edwardian, Victorian or Mid-century pieces from other countries. To be able to say ‘that belonged to my grandmother’ – even if it didn’t, but could have – gives people a touchstone about who they are and where they have come from. It’s a very emotive thing.” Although iconic designs are expensive, vintage offers value for money says Parr. “Something like my Mid-century rosewood desk is beautifully made and fi t for its function, and the materials are almost

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