Spring heralds new stories, and a group of antiques dealers that were born, branched out or set up shop in the last couple of years are set to share theirs at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair in March.
What may have seemed like a moment for antiques attracting broader, younger appeal has become a constant taste for the old in the otherwise ever-changing trend cycle.
There is a medley of reasons why they are popular, partly thanks to eclectic styling that allows an interior with antiques to evolve, rather than date and partly because there is a revolution against fast furniture with the unparalleled quality of the materials and craft skills that can be accessible when you buy antiques. Not to mention the fresh businesses starting up. Or perhaps because this trade and the thrill of the find keeps everyone dealing or connected to the scene forever young?
If you are a newbie to fairs, Bath Decorative Antiques Fair is a great one because, unlike some antiques events, it isn’t intimidating. The atmosphere is friendly and intimate. Each exhibitor’s stand gives you a glimpse into their world with ideas and maybe an antique rug, a farmhouse table or a French home accessory to take home to your world.
Here are some must-visits at the upcoming fair…
Andy went from working in a factory doing modern upholstery to laying out his own piece of the traditional country house aesthetic from a Georgian Mill, where he operates in West Yorkshire. He said to himself, “this is it. I don’t want to do this anymore,” and voluntary redundancy allowed him to turn “buying antiques during lockdown” into his business.
Desired Effect specialises in seating with a strong collection of storage and tables. Atmospheric armchairs requiring restoration and upholstery may get the most likes on his Instagram, but restored and upholstered chairs sell quickest. You get Andy’s taste from the fabrics, whether it be a Liberty London floral chintz or antique grain sacks dyed boldly using traditional methods.
Compliment these with the oak bookcase pictured below, and you understand why people are falling for the lived-in charm of the country house look, even if they are decorating a home in the city. So ‘Brief Encounter’ waiting room, if you have seen that film? Right date, right deco, right graffito and even traces of their last cigarettes. Slightly posh utilityware – maybe the first class waiting room – a modern-day club leaner with station canopy-inspired mouldings.
But this isn’t nostalgia. It is just an example of the new feelings that seeing antiques in person might evoke for you. As Andy says when buying a chair, “sometimes you have to sit in it to believe it.”
Lee’s journey started in vintage and retro, from sourcing fashion for a friend’s clothes shop over 20 years ago to an ongoing passion for Danish midcentury furniture (which you can see on his other website Orange and Brown). Lee only moved into eclectic antiques more recently.
He describes how well Scandinavian midcentury furniture works in terms of our homes and how we live today, and Lee presents the older, quirky yet functional collection of 18th and 19th century pieces at his shop in Bristol in a clean, modern way. “I didn’t get bored (of midcentury), but I needed more inspiration, and I’d been thinking about branching off into this sort of style for quite a while.” The timing of the lockdowns allowed him to focus and “develop a different vibe.”
Looking forward to showing at Bath Decorative, Lee has not yet decided what he will bring. Which “adds to the excitement,” he says, describing strong candidates like a Maison Jansen Chinoiserie tiered side table and big bright blue apothecary jars. From doing a fair to going to France and the mesh of on and offline, “I am still gripped by the whole thing, every angle.”
DJ Green Eclectic
Surrounded by antiques since they were kids, brothers Julian and James and their cousin David opened their showroom on London’s Lillie Road last year. Founded in collaboration with DJ Green Antiques and French Affair Antiques, it marked the fourth generation of the Green family to work in antiques and interiors, but it wasn’t always the only path. David says he was a teacher, but when it came to dedicating his life to something, this had to be it.
“We are a cohesive family unit with our own backgrounds and specialisms,” adds Julian. “I do the photography and website development with a specialism in fine art from studying at university. James is the midcentury specialist and an excellent driver/warehouse manager for incoming and outgoing shipments and deliveries with a keen eye for detail, which is invaluable when making decisions about how to repair or display items, while David has a background in history from studying at university so is an excellent researcher, and is also a great shop manager with good interpersonal skills.”
Rather than collecting with a particular buyer in mind or from a single time or place, DJ Green Eclectic acquires quality goods from a range of eras and styles. Utility and design come across as equally important, and David suggests that mend-ability is another reason why young buyers are looking to older pieces. With inventory dating back well over one hundred years, it is a good marker of trust that they have lasted this long. I bought my 1920s French bed from DJ Green Antiques, and I can say that I sleep easy.
See the full list of exhibitors and get complimentary tickets via the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair website.
Date: 10-11 March 2023
Preview: Thursday 9 March
Venue: The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU