In with the old The new generation of internet-savvy antiques dealers
A rising generation of dealers is using the internet to create new ways to sell old furniture
Jack Laver Brister
Jack Laver Brister’s Instagram account looks like something from the archives of World of Interiors. Mahogany furniture, chintz and pots of pelargoniums abound. “I’d say my style is quite masculine and English,” says Laver Brister, whose home appears in Ros Byam Shaw’s recent book Perfect English Townhouse . “It’s that faded country house look.”
Laver Brister could be described as a “new traditional” dealer and decorator – he’s just completed an interior design project on a Georgian townhouse in London. He scours country auctions and markets for “useful and decorative pieces with originality – things that haven’t been retouched or restored”.
He started dealing five years ago, at the age of 26. “Both sets of grandparents were in the trade,” he explains, “so it’s definitely been passed down from them.” He rents a barn from his parents just outside the town of Somerton in the West Country. “The barn is open casually and by appointment, because I can’t afford a shop,” he says. “Besides, I think I’d go mad sitting in a shop all day waiting for people to come in. I’d find it demoralising.” Instead, his latest stock (which includes a rosewood William IV sofa, a selection of bobbin chairs and a gleaming “whatnot” for displaying small objects) is uploaded to Instagram where his following (31,000 and counting) more than makes up for the lack of footfall in Somerton.
“The past 20 years have been dire for antiques,” Laver Brister says, blaming Ikea and eBay for the steady disappearance of antique shops – that and the fact that a generation of homemakers “didn’t want what their parents had”. Now, thanks in part to the rise of high-profile designers such as Ben Pentreath and Max Rollitt, “traditional furniture is being put back on the map.” @tradchap
Harth is a digital platform that connects lenders with borrowers. It was conceived by Henrietta Thompson, editor-at-large of Wallpaper* magazine, and her husband, Ed Padmore, after they moved house four times in two years. “We had our fair share of changing circumstances, and the frustrations that brings with it,” explains Thompson, 39. “Storage is one of the fastest growing markets at the moment,” she says. “People feel overwhelmed with the stuff they have. This is a better way of dealing with it.”
Members search for pieces to rent, be it an 18th-century gilded mirror, art deco dresser or Memphis-style light fitting. The borrower will then connect directly with a lender, specify which dates they would like to borrow the piece for and arrange delivery. “It’s a platform that enables you to have access to all kinds of objects without having to invest in forever-pieces,” she explains.
The site is at founder membership stage, but there are already around 10,000 items available to rent. Harth has partnered with dealers such as Talisman, Kairos Collective and One Room Gallery ‹
‘People don’t want to see their pieces sitting in storage’: Henrietta Thompson and Ed Padmore of Harth. Below from left: an Eero Aarnio ball chair; Danish midcentury table and chairs