August 2018

ANTIQUE BROWN FURNITURE - OUT OF FASHION, BUT WILL IT COME BACK?

Fashions change – fact. Presently in the auction world the hype is mostly around Luxury Goods, Contemporary/Impressionist Art and 20th Century Design. So what’s caused the demise in the brown furniture market, and why is it not selling like it was 10-15 years ago? I hear you say – “a lot happens in 15 years Ben, and it’s just not desirable anymore – would you buy it?”. Before I answer that question, its probably best we talk about how we got to where we are now.

Major influential brands like Apple, Google or even IKEA portray a minimalised ideal in all marketing campaigns – and it doesn’t stop there either. If you look at the majority of websites or adverts you see either a guy or a girl sitting in a bright airy space with a cup of coffee smiling like they are just one the lottery. It reaches as far as Taxi firms and Consultancy businesses alike. Does the world “really” like this? Does the world really “want” to live like this? I personally don’t believe so. If our dining room table just had candles sticks on it – my wife would immediately put all the backdated post we have there, our child’s toys, a fruit bowl and a half-eaten Mars bar for effect. This is how the world really lives, in a kind of masochistic controlled carnage.

Unfortunately, with the extortionate budgets these companies have, it infiltrates society so much that we become blind followers of everything clean, bright and airy. I’m no different – I’m currently writing this on my iPhone – have I also sold out? No, I haven’t – the product is good quality, it does what I need it to do, and it keeps me connected – that’s why I bought it. Not because I can envisage myself living in a bear stale beige room with one lamp shade drinking a Mocha and smiling like the village idiot. It serves its purpose and it does it well – though albeit not cheap.

As I mentioned in my previous article – the “Old and New” is seen in pretty much every Interior Design magazine you can get your hands on, and having brown furniture is part of this image too. I’m not saying fill your room with mahogany – as it will look like an early 1900s gentleman’s library. But is that such a bad look?? I’ve had a couple of younger clients want to build a small gentleman’s library - so they can sit with a friend, drink whisky and smoke cigars. Why the hell not! You can’t do that with modern flat pack furniture.

Why doesn’t Apple create an advert with a late 20’s hipster sitting in Gentleman’s Library with a Crystal Glass tumbler of Whiskey whilst on Tinder – we will see those Georgian Dressers sell like wild fire!

To put things in perspective – we sold a Georgian Dresser recently for £600. 10 years ago, it would have fetched circa £3000. It’s a beautiful piece and would work in a modern environment. Below I have inserted a picture to get those creative juices going.

Look at this amazing antique table in the modern kitchen – it looks fantastic! Am I wrong? I guess its preference – but it just takes a little bit of imagination to really get an amazing modern look – with some well-made, good quality and purposeful piece of antique furniture.

So, would I buy it? – I do. Is it an investment – I feel it could be, but what have I got to lose. I spoke with an individual the other day who says he buys all the brown furniture cheap here in the UK and ships it to South Africa because “they haven’t caught up yet”. Maybe it is us that haven’t caught up yet. Think about all those fashion shows and the ridiculous clothes whish they show – but some of the trends do filters through. I think 2 years ago it was Hawaiian shirts on the catwalk – and now Ace Ventura Pet Detectives are everywhere. Maybe we haven’t caught up with what Interior Designers are showing us. Maybe we aren’t brave enough. Either way, brown furniture will come back into fashion at some point – just like Ace Venture Hawaiian Shirts. But in the meantime – buy a bargain in a buyers’ market, enjoy it and if you make your money back – you’ve won – right?

We hold regular Antiques, Interiors and Collectables auctions every week. Sometimes there is some great furniture. Check out www.londonauctions.co regularly for an updated catalogue. Be brave, break the mould, stop being a follower – be an individual.

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July 2018

WHY ARE YOUNGER GENERATIONS NOT BUYING AT AUCTION?

Good question! Quite frankly all of the team here at London Auctions (mostly young staff members) have no idea – but have some interesting thoughts.

Outwardly – the perception of the auction industry by the younger generations is what they see in the media, and the outlook isn’t great! Organically the auction industry has stretched in two very different directions. The Elitist leaders (Sotheby’s and Christies) where you have to have a cool million in your back pocket to buy the cheapest lot, or Bargain Hunt style – stack em’ high, sell it low bric-brac cobweb filled warehouses. Do either of these entice you to buy or sell at auction? – honestly it wouldn’t me either.

Unfortunately, that is the perception of younger clients who we speak with regularly at London Auctions. We hear “I can’t afford anything as auction houses are expensive” or “that’s where my mum goes to collect small porcelain figurines”. How wrong could they be! With all the media hype around Sotheby’s selling the Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché, or the annoying Tim Wonnacott pointing out how interesting a porcelain Labrador is – its no wonder they aren’t interested.

In my opinion (and it is just an opinion) auction houses need to be affordable but aspirational. Whose inspired by a porcelain Labrador? And on the opposite side of the spectrum – am I aspirational to spend $157 million on a painting – no I’m not! I would prefer to buy a small island in the pacific thank you very much (if I could of course)!

So how do we breakdown the boundaries and start showing a new younger client base what good quality bargains they can get at auction – and actually items they would like!?

When you look at every single Interior Design magazine you see the mix of old and new united – proudly for all to see. I personally think it looks great and it is so easy (and cheap) to achieve with buying at auction. Why not buy an Eames Chair (very cool and 20th Century) next to a Victorian Gilt Wood Mirror?

Recently I purchased a Victorian Home, and in my study I bought a Victorian pedestal desk (for £50 at auction). I imagine of all the Victorian Alan Sugars firing people over it, or the difficult conversations with the Tax Man, or even the Company owner and his mistress! I have put this desk with modern grey painted walls, with modern pendant hanging style lamps (also bought at auction for £100). I also use a Victorian gilt frame with a pinboard in it – it looks great. A very cool office so cheap cheap cheap! And if it can last 100 years (which Ikea wont by the way) – it will probably last another 100! Also – you are recycling! A lot more than putting just your bottles of wine and beer out each week to be collected – think of all that wonderous wood!

Its been a long time coming – but the only way I feel we can reach out to the youngsters is by writing content and showing each one of them every time they enter our premises what they can buy and how much. Tell your friends – it’s a revolution! No one will walk into you home and say – what a lovely IKEA Table you have – they are more likely to say that their friend has one similar or even worse they do!

So my point here is – break the mould, be original not a follower, grab a bargain and make you average home an exciting story filled place to enjoy.

Check out what you can buy at www.londonauctions.co. We hold auctions every week and yes there are some thing not to your taste – but I promise you – if you think outside of the box and think imaginatively you will find something that you will be proud to own and show your guests.

London Auctions: www.londonauctions.co