10 Reasons to Buy Vintage items

10 Reasons to Buy Vintage items

There are many reasons to decorate your home on the secondhand market, but here we outline the 10 most important.

10. Give in to nostalgia

With each passing generation, a whole category of objects succumbs to the label of “vintage” and falls into the category of collectibles. So when some (especially children of the 1980s and 1990s) think of Nike Air Jordan, Pokémon, Garbage Pail Kids or Game & Watch consoles, childhood memories resurface and a sweet sense of nostalgia sets in.
As Pontus Silfverstolpe, co-founder of Barnebys confirms, "often the highest value is emotional value." The second-hand market is a real gold mine and with a little perseverance, it is possible to find rare pearls.  And what could be more fun than revisiting your fondest memories of childhood?

9. Save the world

Buying furniture made in 1950 today has very little or no impact on the environment. Antique furniture, much more durable than contemporary creations, can change owners several times and thus constantly feed the secondhand market. Buying vintage is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and recycle. "The amount of waste on earth is alarming and we owe it to consumerism, which has prevailed since the end of World War II," says Silfverstolpe. "Those who buy at auctions today have a completely different attitude than previous generations."

8. Save money

Despite preconceptions, buying at auction does not necessarily cost an arm and a leg. On the contrary, it is possible to get great deals. Right now, for example, one of Sweden's biggest auction houses has auctioned off the Maralunga 3-seater sofa by Italian designer Vico Magistretti for about $900. Based on Barnebys auction data, five versions sold in 2020 for the average price of $1,100. In comparison, a brand-new model costs around $8,000.

If these prices may still seem high to some, it should be noted that this is a piece of furniture designed by one of the greatest designers of the 20th century. It is of course possible to find unique pieces at lower prices. The Barnebys database contains more than 1,000 sofas sold for around $100.

7. Be unique

Thanks to blogs, social media and design magazines, most people know that unique pieces can make all the difference in an interior. While some auction catalogs offer the same creations by the same designers over and over (their most famous furniture or those produced in larger series), some rarer pieces also appear from time to time. 

The Thunderball chair, for example, is a piece of furniture that most people recognize and appreciate. But how many know the other creations of Eero Aarnio? The Focus 2Prisma, and Cognac chairs are, for example, less common but just as original. None of these models can be found in stores today, and must be found on the second-hand market.

“In recent years, those interested in interior design have been more daring," says Silfverstolpe. "Today, people have more eclectic tastes and don't hesitate to mix antiques with designer furniture from the 20th century, and in particular with Scandinavian design, which is still so popular."

6. Rekindle interest in designers

Finnish designer Eero Aarnio, like many of his contemporaries, is very popular in the secondhand market. The demand for his designs was such that the company Eero Aarnio Originals was established in 2016. About fifteen of his pieces of furniture are produced there, including the Thunderball armchair and the Pastill and Bubble chairs .

Another example is Alvar Aalto's Artek company which has started producing, among others, the Mademoiselle and Crinolette models by Ilmari Tapiovaara, and the Karuselli armchair by Yrjö Kukkapuro.

The public interest in these designers has restarted production. Taking an interest in vintage pieces helps to perpetuate the history of important figures in the field of design

"The average price of furniture or objects made with real craftsmanship can be extremely low on the auction market."

5. Reveal hidden treasures

In the profusion of objects present on the secondhand market, many are still waiting to be discovered. For example, it is no longer possible today to find a new Flamingo chair by Thea Leonard. The model belongs to the archives and sometimes appears in the secondary market, but much of the designer's work is missing, because the clues about her furniture disappeared after her death in Zurich in 1972. Who knows? While browsing the market, one may discover pieces missing from the annals of design.

4. Honor the craft

Furniture making is an old tradition. Until the beginning of the 20th century, most furniture was handcrafted by a local craftsman. There were many producers and to be successful, the products had to be varied.

Carl Hansen & Søn is a Danish family furniture company based on the island of Funen. Carl Hansen & Søn is the company behind many models of classic furniture from great figures of the Danish modern movement. The firm has notably produced furniture by Hans Wegner, Børge Mogensen, and Kaare Klint. Carl Hansen was 27 when he founded the company at the turn of the 20th century. Although his family did not know any entrepreneurs, Hansen was convinced. According to him, he was "the best craftsman in town." He was not mistaken, and even as industrialism swept the world, he invested in machines for mass production.

“Of course, there are still a lot of high prices in the secondhand market, especially for the works of design pioneers that have been produced manually, like those by Finn Juhl and Niels Vodder. Nevertheless, the average price of furniture or objects made with real craftsmanship can be still extremely low on the auction market, considering the quality," adds Silfverstolpe.

Related: The 10 Most Popular Furniture Designers

Even though the furniture was mass produced, consumers were still looking for good craftsmanship. The companies that at the time mass produced while skimping on quality simply did not last. So why not opt ​​for a chair from the 1920s with fine details testifying to the existence of extraordinary craftsmanship? 

3. Make a statement

From Keith Haring's art made to bring attention to the fight against HIV in the 1980s, or Judy Chicago's feminist installation The Dinner Party, there are many works created by artists and designers who have dedicated their art to a cause. These works today have a symbolic value. Vintage artworks and furniture can make an important political or social statement today.

2. Learn the history

Did you know that James Bond actor Sean Connery is sitting in Gaetano Pesce's beautiful easy chair Up 2000 in the movie Diamonds Are Forever? Or that Swedish furniture company Klaessons Möbler in the 1980s decorated Saddam Hussein's luxury hotel in Baghdad? Or that John F. Kennedy sat in Hans J Wegner's chair during the first live presidential candidate debate in 1960?

With the help of vintage furniture and paintings, it is possible to revisit history and learn about the evolution of design.

1. Start conversations

And when you know the story behind a piece of furniture, it is of course very fun to impart this knowledge to guests and fellow design aficionados. The chair will not only be comfortable to sit in, it is also a conversation piece.

The article from Barnebys ( Anders Landen )


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