Evening Standard - ES Magazine
Antiques expert Cassandra Cunningham of Almásy gives us a history lesson
Having spent eight years in the antiques game, Cassandra Cunningham, 35 — with bases in both Hoxton and Nayland, Suffolk — finds it hard to think about period when she buys a piece. However, there are a couple of classics she finds herself drawn to again and again, which we should train our eyes to look out for.
The first is early 19th-century British upholstery. ‘If you find a really well-designed piece, we did it best. All the best makers came from England,’ she extols. ‘I always think about the upholstery I want in a room and work around that. It can be done in a modern way, but really add elegance to a room. I like hand-dyed linen. Someone else might like African print, or velvet. You can really add a contemporary feel with the fabric you use.’
The second addition is an 18th-century Maltese commode (the cabinet kind, not the hidden toilet!). ‘If you had something with a serpentine (curved) front, it adds volume to a straight wall. I like pieces with interesting timber, like lime wood — things you don’t find very often.’
And as a final touch, Cunningham loves mounting large-scale textiles. ‘You’ve got a piece of artwork, for not much expenditure, which is a fantastic way to add colour and texture. You can go from 18th to 20th century: African textiles are great, I’ve just bought a Ewe greens and pinks geometric pattern and I love that, but then I also recently found an amazing Uzbek ikat.’
With Brexit radically changing our ability to import, Cunningham suggests a tour of Instagram rather than a tour of the world when scouting for furnishings. ‘It’s supposed to be fun decorating your house and people don’t see the aggravation in the background of sourcing things.’ Also great is acquainting yourself with your local auction house. ‘The decision-making process is key — go before you buy something to feel comfortable. It’s having the ability to not buy something that you need to work on.’