What’s Old is New Again – Market Stalls at Boston Design Center

What’s Old is New Again - Market Stalls at Boston Design Center | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva

Next week I’ll be in Boston – Saturday night is Steven Favreau’s launch party for FavreaulousFactory.com – all the antiques in the factory are a result of an incredible trip with The Antiques Diva® & Co – stories Steven be sharing on Tuesday, March 6  at 11am when we speak at the Boston Design Center on Boston’s role as a design and cultural center, and how the Design Center is a virtual trip to the antique markets of Europe. I recently spoke to Joe Didonato, manager of Market Stalls, about how Boston’s history and culture speak to design in Massachusetts and across the globe. 

If you’re in the Boston area I hope to see you at the Design Center on Tuesday when I am joined by interior design experts Steven Favreau and Tamara Matthews Stephenson as we discuss the timeless effect of antiques: here are the details and RSVP. 

How Market Stalls at the Boston Design Center brings the city’s antique history into the future

As anyone who works with antiques knows, nothing communicates a region’s cultural history like a good antique. As I’ve spent years leading tours across 15 different countries, I am thrilled to return home and showcase the rich antique history stateside. And of course, when one thinks of US cities that scream history, the first one that pops into mind is Boston. At the Boston Design Center, the recently-renovated Market Stalls section seeks to capture the feel of an international antiques market for Boston’s eclectic design history. The 10,000 square foot boutique-style market features stalls for individual dealers from greater Massachusetts and around the globe.

I’m thrilled to have the manager of Market Stalls, Joe Didonato, join me March 5th at the Boston Design Center for a conversation on Boston’s role as a design and cultural destination, and how the Design Center captures the feel of antiques markets usually found in Paris or Venice. Use Joe’s insights to plan your next trip through antiques history, #NoPassportRequired!!

Photo credit for all images Caitlin Cunningham: booths in Market Stalls of Boston Design Center

1) Walking through the BDC market stalls feels like a walk through Massachusetts history. What makes your state unique as an antique and design destination?

With such deeply bound roots in American history, it’s only natural that Massachusetts would be such a hub for high-quality antiques. In addition to Boston landmarks like the Design Center and Charles Street in historic Beacon Hill, coastal towns such as Essex and New Bedford offer some of the most well-respected and eclectic antique and vintage dealers in the country. And of course, there’s the Brimfield Fair, one of the world’s largest antique fairs, and the oldest outdoor antiques show in the country.

2) In the land of the Freedom Trail, it’s all about the local history. How does the design history of Boston influence what you bring to the Boston Design Center? 

Boston definitely has this perception of embodying a traditional vibe with a coastal feel. We have such strong dealers that understand this and bring in items (nautical items, traditional wood pieces, and antique silver) that really speak to this client. There’s also a growing global population coming into the city, with much broader tastes, which is why we keep our space so eclectic and have expanded our mid-century modern assortment as well as bringing in textiles.

3) Where do you find design inspiration? 

There’s never a lack of inspiration when you’re housed in such a creative building; you could spend an entire day working your way through the Boston Design Center and only see a fraction of what these showrooms have to offer. I also look to social media platforms, especially Instagram, for inspiration. Design ideas have never been as accessible or immediate as they are today. You can literally search for anything, from red painted room ideas to your favorite designer’s portfolio.

4) At The Antiques Diva & Co, we love the overlap that’s happening now between antique statement pieces and contemporary designs. How does the Boston Design community use its past to build toward the future? 

I see the design community of Boston looking at ways to blend traditional items of the past with the contemporary stylings of today. More and more, you see high rises popping up next to Victorian brownstones, and older buildings being retrofitted with modern interiors. There has to be a level of transitional design that blends the two, and I think the design community is really taking that approach with their projects. I love seeing a pair of 19th-century chairs flanking a modern credenza, or a bold modern painting over an antique marble mantle.

5) What are some of your favorite pieces in the Design Center right now? 

I’ve always been obsessed with pattern and color. Luckily, the Boston Design Center houses the best of local and national showrooms, especially when it comes to fabrics and paints. I love walking through showrooms like Charles Spada and The Martin Group and seeing the newest fabric lines or checking out paint swatches at Farrow and Ball. I’m constantly reimagining how some of my antique and vintage pieces could be injected with new life, with just the right bold print or vivid new hue. Right now there’s a vintage Fournier-style rope and tassel chair on the third floor that’s been sprayed in a black lacquer and covered in a sinewy Cowtan and Tout animal print, and I’m completely obsessed.

6) What periods and styles of antiques are hot right now? What trends do you expect to see in the coming years? 

I find that our clients are always looking for those special antique pieces that mix in well with their contemporary settings. Whether it’s the rich patina and clean lines of a William and Mary tavern table, an antique map, or a vintage Murano glass light, clients want something that will balance out and lend warmth and style to a modern setting. I definitely see this as a trend moving forward, as younger generations look at how to incorporate inherited pieces into modern design aesthetics.

7) How have you transformed the Boston Design Center from a trade-only space to a progressive, all-inclusive design resource? 

I view the Market Stalls as introductory point into the Boston Design Center. Our showroom serves both the design community as well as the community at large. And while many of the showrooms in the BDC are trade-only, the building offers a designer on-call service that assists visitors, offering complimentary design advice, as well as aiding in executing sales within all the showrooms of the building. The BDC also offers a number of events and enriching lectures that are open to the public.

8) One of my favorite parts of antique sourcing is the constant surprises around every corner — the pieces you weren’t expecting but fall in love with right away. What surprises you about the pieces that come into the market? 

The Market Stalls is fortunate to house such a diverse and eclectic group of high-quality antique dealers. I’m always amazed by the depth and quality of the pieces that our dealers bring into the space. Whether it’s a 17th-century Baroque credenza, a vintage Venini chandelier, or a beautifully hand-crafted Persian Kazak rug, there’s always something worth drooling over.

9) Antique flea markets are some of my favorite places on earth, and the BDC captures the feel of walking through street stalls filled to the brim with precious and eclectic pieces. What are some of your favorite travel destinations, and how has international inspiration shaped the Design Center? 

For me, travel is invaluable. I’ve been lucky to find something unique and lovely in each country I’ve visited. International travel is also such an important part of what makes up the Market Stalls. Our dealers are literally traveling the world to find pieces to bring to our showroom. We have beautifully preserved furniture sourced from England and France, rugs and textiles from the Iran and Turkey, and art and porcelain from China and Japan. The Market Stalls is also modeled after the incredibly fabulous flea markets of Paris.

10) What are you most excited for right now? What’s next for the Design Center? 

The Boston Design Center has been undergoing an extensive renovation over the past few years, with a new lobby, dining options, and additional retail spaces all coming soon. There’s also an endless amount of building development happening in our neighborhood – Boston’s Seaport District. The area is seeing a massive shift from a once thriving shipping area to a vibrant hotbed of condos, hotels, and retail options. I’m excited to see how these changes play a role in expanding the Boston Design Center’s reach within the city and overall design community.

The Details:

The Market Stalls at Boston Design Center second-floor west wing houses a 10,000-square foot boutique-style market, featuring high-quality antiques sourced from around the globe. Dedicated space is reserved for individual dealers, representing an eclectic mix of period furniture, lighting, and art from the 17th to 20th centuries appealing to interior designers, architects, and design enthusiasts.

I hope to see you in Boston!

Toma – The Antiques Diva 

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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

  • Toma, first off I enjoy your blogs and have learned a lot from them.You have given me some hope as to
    the outlook for antiques.I am an antique dealer here in Canada
    near Niagara Falls.I deal in 19,18 and 17th century mainly French
    and Swedish country antiques and folk art with emphasis on the
    Empire periods.
    I have a shipper in Copenhagen named “Packman”and I would like
    to recommend him to you.They pick-up in Europe and pack,storage
    and ship.Rates are good and management are also good to work with.
    Thank you.