Modern Shows offer buyers a twentieth century design paradise at two atmospheric venues in London - in the south, the impressive Elizabethan-built Dulwich College, which features some 1960s extensions, and the more centrally located Haggerston School in Hoxton, built by Erno Goldfinger who was a key player in the architectural modern movement.
The mix at this month’s Dulwich event was both broad and inspiring and had visitors such as visual merchandiser Becky Taylor and furniture designer Matt Steels dreaming of a bottomless budget. ‘We’ve come here for inspiration and there is so much to get excited about,’ the pair said. It was love at first sight when they saw this French modernist sofa newly upholstered in yellow De Ploeg felted wool, which was for sale on the Beton Brut stand.
Even though it was Sunday plenty of designers, collectors, props buyers and interior designers were there to do business. Around every corner were standout items deserving attention, like this bespoke 1970s Gordon Russell dining table with teak top and folding chrome legs on the Decorative Modern stand.
Andrew Fletcher of Twentieth Century Antiques has always sold antique, art deco, Arts & Crafts and art nouveau pieces but has great affection for midcentury design. ‘I’ve been waiting for the market to gain strength and I’m so glad it has,’ he said. If you visit Andrew’s stand you can expect to find pieces like this pair of 1950s Dutch Bovenkamp lounge chairs designed by Aksel Bender Madsen or original art like the landscape oil painting by artist Jack Kampman pictured on the chair.
The trend for industrial furniture was evident with companies like Vintage Unit (pictured) and Metro Retro being run off their feet selling filing cabinets, plan chests, office furniture and old works lighting.
I learned from Katie Hession that the patterns used by Irish rug company Ceadogan are steeped in history. ‘These designs are from the archive of Mainie Jellett, one of Ireland’s finest 20th century painters, who was part of the modernist and art deco movements. We've been lucky enough to release limited runs across thirteen designs, which is particularly relevant right now as 2015 is the year of Irish design,’ she said. The plush handcrafted rugs are made from 100 per cent New Zealand wool and silk mixed with bamboo fibre.
Dawn and Peter Springett were trying their newly purchased early 1960s Ercol table and gorgeous Windsor Lattice chairs out for size on the Midmode stand. ‘We have created a Scandinavian look in our Victorian house and are trying to choose furniture made by reputable makers so that it's durable and holds its value,’ they said.
It’s always a joyous sight when someone finds a piece that's been missing from their collection, which is exactly what happened to Grace Sharp when she visited the Molecula stand. ‘This chair completes a set of six that I have painstakingly sourced over time. Each one is upholstered in a different colour and they will look fabulous together around a modern table in my home in Surrey,’ she said.
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