What goes around comes around is the mantra for antiques dealers and interior designers the same way it is for all style and taste makers. If you can hang on to it long enough, what’s out will surely be, given time, in again.
Christopher Mason is reporting in the New York Times that a number of dealers and designers at the Biennale, reeling from a strong reaction to prices in mid century furniture, are offering late 19th century pieces as the next new thing. Well, it had to happen. The craze for mid century furniture- and I do mean craze- has caused prices in New York and Paris to sky rocket. And, of course, there is a finite supply of pieces, certainly with the names most sought after- Eugene Printz, Maxime Old, Jean-Michel Frank. But, of course there is a strong fad element to the popularity of mid century furniture, as well- witness the meteoric rise in the demand.
Given all that, mid century furniture is wonderfully adaptable and articulates beautifully with 18th century pieces. Both types have strong architectural elements. Indeed, Maxime Old and others were architects and brought a notion of rational structure to all the pieces they designed. Likewise, Thomas Chippendale begins his design book The Gentleman and Cabinet Makers Director with a discussion and illustrations of the classical orders of architecture. Further, a number of mid century interiors were conceived as spare, in a departure from cluttered Victorian and Edwardian interiors. 18th century interiors were likewise spare.
Consequently, mid century pieces and 18th century pieces often mix wonderfully in an eclectic interior, that probably also contains contemporary art. Can you say that for late 19th century furniture? I don’t think so. Dense and intricate, often heavily carved and shaped, or, the opposite extreme, a study in rusticity- a conscious, and often not very effective, through back to a time prior to the industrial revolution.
Well- this all bears watching, and one article in the New York Times does not a trend make. Still, don’t sell off Grandma’s Eastlake parlor suite with the itchy mohair upholstery just yet.