I had to chuckle when recently I saw an ad. on the tube for a well-known home furnishings retailer. The copy proclaimed ‘Be original’, and the photograph depicted a stylish woman in a room setting alongside an armchair. A bit of research reveals that this item is one of the company’s ‘fastest selling armchairs’ – so, perhaps not so original, and one doesn’t have to struggle too hard to appreciate its aesthetics? The armchair is covered in polyester velvet and is filled with foam; the firm’s website indicates that these materials make the chair more affordable – but, ultimately, at what cost?
There are many reasons why now, more than ever, we should be buying pre-owned furniture. We have exploited enough of the world’s resources and we don’t need to manufacture any more new furniture – there is an amazing, unique back catalogue readily available and easily accessible in this country, and it is simply the smartest and most logical way to re-cycle.
What would we miss if we only bought furniture created 100 years or more ago? Does the furniture of today come with essential features which we could not live without? Probably not. The major difference lies in the materials – natural versus synthetic – whereas function has remained pretty much consistent over the past four or so centuries. Our ancestors could lounge on an 18th century sofa, if they felt so inclined and had the wherewithal, but they were constructed in wood, stuffed with horse hair and upholstered in natural fibres, and they could be restored or re-upholstered, if required. I don’t imagine that the armchair in that ad. is going to have a very long life, and it certainly won’t be restored or passed down.
Let’s consider the enormous number of workshops and individual cabinet makers previously in business in the UK. Names such as Gillows, Howard and Sons and Heals are amongst the best known, but, there are many others whose output is still obtainable and highly affordable. How exciting and truly original would it be to source a rare piece of furniture from a British workshop?
Unlike today’s retailers we don’t tend to create room settings for an interior space. Rather, we source individual and interesting pieces for the home that will work in many different combinations – according to our clients’ imagination and taste – and through our expertise and enthusiasm we show you why they are significant and ultimately desirable. Uniquely we offer items in two formats: at auction and in The Pedestal’s Shop.
Stay tuned for more thoughts from The Pedestal on the most shrewd way to re-cycle.