A new year is upon us, and with it come predictions for trends in furniture, antiques and collectibles.
Once again, the style trend of the year for furniture is mid-century modern. The popularity of the show Mad Men helped to rekindle and solidify the popularity of the furniture and décor of the era, which dates from approximately 1933 to 1965. The furniture is known for its straight, clean lines and smooth, curved angles, with little ornamentation or upholstery.
In an article entitled “Why the World is Obsessed with Mid-Century Modern Design”, Laura Fenton states: “Today more than ever, the mid-century modern look is everywhere …turn on the Daily Show and you’ll see guests sitting in classic Knoll office chairs. If you dine in a contemporary restaurant, there is a good chance you’ll be seated in a chair designed in the 1950s, whether it is an Eames, Bertoia, Cherner or Saarinen.”
Among the many famous furniture designers of the era, Ray and Charles Eames stand out. Their simply-designed molded fiberglass/plastic chairs, lightweight, stackable and inexpensive, came in all sizes and can be seen in many classrooms today. They also designed chairs made from wire mesh, which architects likened to the Eiffel Tower. Cast aluminum chairs were another successful innovation. Their philosophy was that good design should be available to everyone, the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least. Though not considered expensive at the time, today’s demand for such pieces has pushed up the price of original and even reproduced Eames pieces. An original Eames lounge chair in good condition is valued at around $6,000. They are still being reproduced today for between $1,600-1,800.
Which furniture pieces should remain in storage, at least for now? Big, brown furniture from the 1980s and 1990s is not popular. Millennials are on the move, and they do not want to move large furniture. Additionally, it does not fit well in the smaller living spaces that are growing in popularity. Large entertainment armoires are selling for a fraction of their original cost if they sell at all, mainly because today’s large screen TVs don’t fit in them.
China cabinets with attached hutches are passé, since china collections are in decline. However, if you remove the hutch, your cabinet suddenly becomes much more attractive as a large-screen TV stand! Finally, ornate furniture in styles such as Victorian, French provincial and others, is definitely on the “not-hot” list as well.
The biggest loser in 2018 with respect to antiques is the traditional antique store and most antique furniture. High rents and a weak economy, coupled with competition from internet sales on eBay, Etsy, Ruby Lane and others, is making it difficult for these stores to survive. As the bulk of antique buying and selling shifts to websites, we will probably see fewer and fewer of these once popular stores in our cities. Sadly, this change is likely to be permanent.
The collectibles market is soft, and it is predicted to remain so. Prices, which have fallen 25 percent to 80 percent since the year 2000, are predicted to continue falling. What happened?
“Collecting as a whole is threatened,” said Harry Rinker, head of the Institute for Antiques and Collectibles. “Young people are not collecting the way old people did.”
According to Rinker, many of the baby boomers who were the biggest collectible enthusiasts are dying off, and today’s younger generation simply does not desire to accumulate possessions.
Are there any positive trends among collectibles?
Art glass and art deco are doing well, as are folk art, art created by Native Americans, and very old Asian artifacts. There is definitely a market for vintage automobiles with original parts, especially those in excellent condition. Antique and vintage firearms have ridden the wave of popularity among gun enthusiasts to establish a healthy market for themselves. World War I memorabilia and trench art are popular. Certain coins are very collectible. If an item is unusual or an anomaly and fits in with the décor of the day, it will be “hot”.
In the collectible world, the buyer might just have to dig a little deeper to find that special item to add to their “minimalist collection.”
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