Antiquing in Parma at Italy’s Premier Antiques Fair
Fancy meeting up with a group of fabulous designers, delightful dealers, (antique dealers, of course), magazine creatives, gracious guides, and one Diva extraordinaire to #shopeatplay in Italy for five days. Well, that’s exactly what Laurent and I did last month during Mercanteinfiera, Italy’s largest antiques fair held in the historic and gastronomic city of Parma, Italy, famous for its Renaissance and Romanesque architecture and prosciutto, parmigiano cheese and Lambruscu.
Twice a year, Toma Clark Haines, the Antiques Diva, and her Diva Guides take a VIP group of mostly interior designers and antique dealers on a trip that can only be described as an “antiques lovefest” because not only did we fall in love with the beautiful Italian antiques we saw, but we also fell in love with the people and places of Italy as well as everyone in our group. (While The Antiques Diva & Co NORMALLY only does one on one customized antique buying tours, a few times a year they work with 3rd parties to put together special VIP Group Tours; Mercanteinfiera is one such occassion. We were lucky enough to be part of that group!) What we thought would be a “look see” turned into an outright buying trip filled with more food, fun and friends than we could have ever imagined!
buy directly off the trucks as dealers
were unloading and setting up
The nine-day shopping extravaganza, which attracted more than 50,000 purveyors of antiques and designer finds from around the world, opened to the public on February 25th, but as VIP guests of the AD&CO we were fortunate enough to have early access during the pre-trade and trade days. This allowed us the ability to buy directly off the trucks as dealers were unloading and setting up. It was a bit crazy with everyone heading in different directions, dodging doggies and dollies (the furniture moving kind), but it provided us first dibs on the crème de la crème of Italian antiques and wares of over 1000 dealers.
Dealers are set up in five different pavilions selling a mixture of styles and periods of antiques and vintage furniture, jewelry and fashions, lighting (lots of lighting), art and accessories. Because Toma was in full-on Diva mode and making history in London at the House of Lords with the first ever Facebook Live post at the Houses of Parliament while speaking at the 9th Annual LAPADA Conference, she wasn’t able to join us the first day. We were in very capable hands, though. Her amazing Diva Guides, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo and Chiara Zanella, took charge and managed to navigate our large group through the multitudes of shoppers. They made sure that we each found what we were looking for, whether it was an 18th century Baroque Italian painted cassapanca or the nearest ATM. They also made sure we could communicate properly. Everyone in our group was from the South, and we could all be heard asking “quanto costa?” in our best southern accents!
A Few Vendor Booths at Mercanteinfiera
Our Goal: A Large Monastery Table
Since Laurent and I had one goal in mind, to find a large monastery table, we were thrilled to find not one but two 18th century tables almost immediately – and decided we best take them before someone else did. One table was fourteen feet and the other was twelve feet – hard-to-find sizes, at reasonable prices and both in excellent condition. We had already arranged to have our “collector” there just in case, so we immediately called him and let him know we had made our first purchase of the day. He would be collecting any items we purchased and taking them to our warehouse in Nantes, France. When Laurent goes to France in April to make a container, he’ll add the pieces from Italy with what he buys in France to be shipped back to our shop in Birmingham, Alabama.
A few things you need to know about Laurent. He’s been importing antiques for 25 years and has his own sources and does his own containers, usually four to five a year. So he was really reluctant about buying anything during this trip. He thought everything would be way over priced, and many things were because it’s a very high-end trade show, but once we started shopping, we realized what a wonderful opportunity we had been given.
even established antique dealers, set in their ways,
can really benefit from one of AD&CO’s many tours
In the two days that we attended Mercanteinfiera, we were able to purchase some incredible Italian antiques and were also able to find sources and make contacts that we will use in the future. Without the AD&CO, none of this would have been possible! We can’t thank them enough! It just goes to show even established antique dealers, set in their ways, can really benefit from one of AD&CO’s many tours. We plan on taking another tour in either Belgium or Sweden as soon as we can. Time is precious. And the time saved having Diva Guides with us to make introductions, translate and negotiate when necessary, and take care of the small details (like reading a menu) made all the difference in the world. Our imaginations could not have dreamed up anything more perfect. The energy, creativity, ingenuity, experience and the professional and personal attentiveness shown to us by Toma and her Diva Guides made this buying trip a truly magical journey.
AD&CO Art Tours
The Antiques Diva™ & Co is proud to announce we are now offering art tours in select cities in Europe and Asia, launching with our Paris Art Gallery Tours. AD&CO CEO Toma Clark Haines explains:
Our philosophy at The Antiques Diva is ‘the design is in the mix.” In my own home, I display my global design viewpoint #MixAntiquesAndModern by integrating modern art with my Asian and European antiques, while in other rooms my antique art collection juxtaposes beautifully with my very modern furnishings and loft-style interior. Many of the interior designers and dealers we work with have long been requesting that we coordinate art gallery tours, both to add to their inventory and for design inspiration. I have waited until now to launch our very 1st curated art gallery tour in a city renown for its art, Paris!
Exclusive Galleries and Private Rooms
Our expert Guide meets you at your hotel and takes you to “behind-closed-doors” galleries. While some art galleries are open to the public or offer appointment-only access, our Guide has relationships that can gain you entry to exclusive galleries and in many cases, even to back rooms where works aren’t on display to the public. This tour specializes in modern and contemporary art galleries, mostly grouped in the Marais district and Belleville.
While each tour is customized for the client and based on what exhibitions are on at the time – often a mix of lesser known and established artists – there’s always the chance that the galleries can arrange private viewings of particular artists that they represent but don’t necessarily have on view. For the seasoned art buyer, our guide could arrange to take you to the suburbs where some galleries have larger spaces in which they show monumental works. To complement this tour, we can also finish the day with a museum tour.
Our Paris Art Gallery Tours are highly customizable based on the client’s interests but expect to see some of the biggest, museum-grade names in modern/contemporary art such as Rauschenberg, Kiefer, Cragg, Gormley, Cattelan, Murakami and JR as well as Picasso, Buffet, and more!
If you purchase artworks, The Antiques Diva offers our own in-house fine art and antiques shipping services, AD&CO Logistics.
Half Day or Full Day Tour, Available Saturdays
Our Paris Art Gallery Tours are available on Saturdays, for a full or half day, by appointment only. Custom curated art gallery tours will be launching soon in Venice, Bangkok and London.
Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva
Where do you get your design inspiration?
Join us on a behind the scenes design inspiration tour of the Paris Flea Market Marché aux Puces with the teams from Currey & Co and Traditional Home Magazine.
What is a Design Inspiration Tour?
Interior designers, furniture manufacturers and showrooms, architects, landscapers, shelter magazines and design industry professionals stay ahead of trends in design, art, cuisine and fashion by traveling to locations that inspire and nurture their creativity and are an opportunity to see first-hand emerging trends in the design world.
Join our group of design industry professionals as we immerse ourselves in the past and present of the Paris Flea Market!
“Having been to the market more than 20 times on our own, they took us to the backside of the flea market where we’d never been before – and it was all NEW to us. We found lots of inspirations and a few concrete ideas on new furniture designs. The best part of the day (other than a superb lunch) was a tour of vintage clothing & fabric shops. We could have spent all day there! Toma and Danielle seemed to know just about every vendor at the flea market and were full of historical information on how Les Puce came to be.
All in all, it was a thoroughly entertaining day – oh, and did I mention champagne! Bubbly always makes an excursion more fun.”
Where do you get your design inspiration?
To book a design inspiration tour contact email@example.com