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

The Observer Magazine - - News - Words NELL CARD

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 ‹

Pho­to­graph SAM PELLY

‘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

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