Why Antiques are​ ​Essential to ​Design ​Today

Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand

Think antiques are intimidating? Think again. Access to antiques—and trusted dealers around the world—has never been easier, thanks to a world where connections are made instantly through social media, a testament to the power of visual marketing. In truth, there’s never been a better time to be in (or shop) the antiques industry, with quality items and indispensable knowledge available at the swipe of a smartphone. Antiques (and authenticity) are more desirable than ever.

I was delighted to take part in a panel Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand in Atlanta along with Beth Webb, Atlanta-based interior designer and Ben Cochrane, Caroline Faison Antique which was Moderated by Elizabeth Ralls, Editor in Chief of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. We discussed how the antique market has changed, why antiques are essential to design projects across a wide range of ages and aesthetics, and how to thoughtfully integrate the quality and history of such time-honed treasures into well-edited, elegant, yet unpretentious interiors. This panel was held at AmericasMart – which opened a fabulous new Antiques floor in Building 1 Floor 2 with 90 dealers .

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Antiques Are Essential to Design Today
The design industry seems to be experiencing a pendulum swing, in which many clients are at last moving away from the sameness of big-box retailers, and understanding the value of, even the story behind, independent artisans, and the small businesses who employ them. Antiques are now for everyone! Snobbery is being stripped away from the antiques scene - it’s no longer about pretentiously sticking to one period or echelon, but rather about mixing and matching and finding value in merely that which delights your eye. Antiques as a category is also being redefined. Vintage is as a relevant in today's market as Period Pieces. And when you think antiques it’s not just about furniture - enter vintage scarves, belts, shoes, handbags, in addition to barware, art de la table, art for the walls, sculpture and statuary, and traditional furniture such as a chest of drawers, settees, tables and chairs.

I believe from a trend perspective antiques are on the upswing - young buyers value one thing more than anything else. They want to be unique - to be perceived as an individual - and one-of-a-kind finds whether for your interior or simply for wearing as vintage fashion are hot right now.

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Provenance v Aesthetics
One of the questions moderator Elizabeth Rails had interior designer Beth Webb and I delve into was the question how important is provenance vs. aesthetics to our clients. Much hype has been made about the generational/cultural shift happening in the antiques and collectibles market in which Millennials have little interest in family heirlooms being passed along by their baby boomer parents – but I had say – I disagree!

I think Millennials are interested in antiques – just not interested in the way their parents and grandparents generations were!

What I find with my clients is that they simply want us to Be Real. Be Authentic. Be Honest. Be Fair. Be Generous with information. Young buyers are savvy buyers. They google to compare prices, they know how to look up authenticity, they know when they are being ripped off and they know when they’re being taken advantage of. They’re also NOT afraid to buy. And key point here… in answer to Elizabeth’s question was that I don’t always find that American buyers care about the authenticity of a piece. If the price is right, and the look is what they’re going for age doesn’t matter. Whereas 20 years ago buyers were obsessed with question “is this a period piece or an in the style of” piece” today young buyers are happy with finding something funky and fun that gives the look they’re after and could care less about museum quality pieces. An “in the style” piece from the 1950’s attracts young buyers the same as that period piece it was styled after from 1850!

Antiques Have Never Been More Accessible
1stdibs.com revolutionized the way that antiques were bought and sold, eliminating the pain points of e-commerce for small businesses around the world. Today there are half a dozen other online marketplaces that have allowed collectors to shop inventory and connect with dealers from around the world, Some would argue that antiques have never been more accessible.

All said, we decided the future of antiques is bright… so bright we gotta wear shades!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®

PS Enjoy a few pics from special PR Tours I lead of AmericasMart during Atlanta Market!