Making Sense of Antiques in a Modern World
Antiques. Where to start? It can be an intimidating world.
As an outsider it’s daunting, easy to focus on how much there is to learn and how much there is to sift through. There’s always someone eager to trip you up, to highlight what you don’t know while showing off their own expertise. It’s an academic world, one in which a heated debate might arise over whether a subtlety almost undetectable to the human eye denotes one precise date over another. It’s also often an old world - in all aspects of the word. Whether buying or selling, Quy and I are usually amongst the youngest at antique shows - the words ‘it’s not how it used to be’ on most dealers’ and shoppers’ lips.
While it’s not ‘how it used to be’ (neither is traditional retail), there’s still a wonderful world to be explored, not to be deterred from. At a time when words like ‘authenticity’ and ‘curation’ are overused to the point of becoming near meaningless, antiques are more relevant than ever.
While Instagram and other social media platforms have opened the world up to us, they have also narrowed our vision. FORM grew from our love of discovery, of travel and of exploring other cultures and crafts in a world becoming increasingly homogenous. While we fully embrace social media, in particular as a tool for discovery, we also want to celebrate what’s not on Instagram, what’s not a trend or certified ‘good taste’ by its ability to generate likes.
We want to look at antiques differently. To appreciate an object not for it’s age or merit, but for how it relates to our lives - and taste - today. We live with the pieces we sell, to appreciate them, to learn from them, and to push our own aesthetics. Our showroom apartment is ever evolving as we play with different styles and eras. The one recurring theme? Whether antiques, jewelry or clothing, we’re drawn to pieces that are timeless and iconic, as relevant today as when first created.
That’s not to say that we always value the old over the new. For us, it’s about appreciating both simultaneously. A decades old table listed as ‘antique’ is not necessarily better than a cleverly designed IKEA piece made yesterday which strikes a perfect balance between form and function. Likewise, a poorly designed or crafted contemporary piece is simply not a good investment and will ultimately cost you more in the long run. In the same way that one might pair a 1970’s silk Yves Saint Laurent blouse with a pair of torn Levis 501’s, we’re big believers in cutting costs and buying great basics when you can, alongside investing in those truly special pieces that make you happy to look at every day, the ones with personality, the ones that tell a story, the ones that will continue to age with beauty.
There’s no right or wrong. We want to encourage our clients and customers to find their own eye - an eye which is open to looking outside the box, to appreciating details and craftsmanship, to learning and evolving.
Full disclosure: prior to founding FORM with Quy, most of my experience was in vintage clothing rather than antiques. Quy, with his vast wealth of knowledge and experience, always lead the way when it came to antiques while I focused on our clothing and jewelry collection. But I’ve had an interest in antiques from a young age and I wanted to learn. As we traveled the world on the hunt for vintage and antique treasures, my interest in antiques only continued to grow. This blog is a journal as I, too, navigate the antique world and share my experiences and learnings with you. I make no pretense to know everything but I’m enjoying the journey and I hope you will too!
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