Antique – an item must be at least 100 years old to be defined as an antique, so anything older than the 1920s would fall under this term. Vintage – an item more than 20 years old (or 50 years, according to some) that is not yet an antique, so anything from 1920 to the 1970s definitely counts. Most would also include items from the 1980s.


Mid-century modern – furniture from the middle of the 20th century (roughly 1933 to 1965, although some say 1947 to 1957). A number of designs are still in production. Retro – a new item made in the general style of a previous era. Reproduction – a copy of an item from a previous era. These have become less common since copyright laws changed in 2016, preserving copyright on most Mid-century modern designs until 70 years after the death of the designer rather than the previous 25 years after launch.

Above left: Maurizio Pellizzoni designed the room in this Surrey Hills country mansion around a vintage woven chair that belonged to the clients’ grandmother. The Indian chest of drawers is also vintage

Right: Retrouvius find pieces that bring individuality to an interior.

unacquirable - I would not specify tropical rosewood these days,” he explains. “A vintage Mid-century Scandinavian desk might cost you £3,000 - £5,000, but if you commissioned something new with that level of workmanship it would cost much more than that.” Penny Oliver at Stedsans, one of the regulars at the Modern Shows, agrees: “The craftsmanship and quality can be better than a lot of modern furniture and the pieces often come with real design heritage.” Like a classic car versus a new one, vintage furniture can increase in value. “I think clients appreciate the craft, quality and tradition of vintage pieces. There is also the investment appeal,” says Fletcher. “In my area of Scandinavian Modern design, many pieces have been in continuous production since the 1950s. In many cases it’s actually cheaper to buy an excellent vintage example than a brand new piece – it will hold its value better and increase it with time.” Vintage is kinder to the environment, too, notes Oliver: “Customers are looking to buy more thoughtfully and are taking more notice of the impact of their purchasing decisions, going against the tide of the throwaway and disposable. Vintage furniture is more sustainable, has a lower carbon footprint and holds its value.” Growing awareness about our impact on the planet also contributes, as Pellizzoni adds. “People are trying to be more eco-conscious,” he says. “They are reusing and recycling more and they don’t want to see a beautiful piece of furniture that could have a new lease of life end up in a skip.” Designers feel better too, says Fournet: “I hate it on install day when there’s that pile of cardboard boxes and polystyrene and plastic in the hall. Vintage comes with all the history and none of the carbon footprint!” Unless you are buying priceless rarities, opting for vintage pieces makes them easy to live with. “Things can be allowed to look quite shabby or unrestored; 25 years ago everything was over-restored, now people want it to show as much history as possible,” says Hills. “It can be really forgiving to live with. I can’t stand modern interiors where everything is pristine, as the first scratch and it’s ruined. With vintage you can use it and abuse it - your kids can be sick on it and your dog can scratch it and it just tells a story. It’s a much more human way of living.” According to Hamilton, “using vintage makes you more relaxed about your space. You

Photo: Jake Fitzjones

Photo: Tom Fallon

Photo: Caitlin Mogridge

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