There is a tendency for young people today to feel they are not ‘keeping up with everyone else’ unless their whole house is finished and furnished like on the latest DIY TV show or in a fashionable ‘home’ magazine. They worry what will friends think if they don’t have it all fitted out, perfectly appointed and arranged when friends and family come by.
It’s hard not to get caught up in all the hype. However it is good to remember that a great deal of mass production furniture uses cheaper timbers and synthetic material and while providing a cost effective alternative in the short term, it is not designed to offer longevity of life and you could spend buckets of money replacing it many times.
There is an alternative solution to this challenge, one that will help save the planet while giving eons of pleasure for years; select antiques that last a lifetime.
As an interior designer by trade advising on antiques during my own extensive career I made sure my clients were not afraid to leave a blank wall and fill up spaces with cheaper purchases just for the sake of filling them.
Sure, you may need to furnish the kid’s rooms with furniture that’s practical and performs for a limited time (cots and the like) but antique collecting even on a small scale, has a great bonus for young families.
Perceptions formed pre-puberty stay with us our whole lives and there is a lot of life left for parents after the kids leave home.
Well-chosen pieces that give a great deal of pleasure can be given new life in a new space when you move or downsize.
It’s good for children to gain an appreciation for sustainable living and the value of making sound home economies.
If you want them to learn about sound money management you have to provide them with a good role model. Purchasing and learning how to cherish special pieces for the home is a wonderful way to teach young people how to value the riches they enjoy in modern life while living in an aesthetically pleasing space.
Surrounding ourselves with items of aesthetic or natural beauty fulfills a deep emotional need within us all. Great design that pleases the eye and connects with the soul in any age is worthy of our admiration and attention.
Jamie Allpress from Allpress Antiques at Malvern in Melbourne, who specializes in smart English and French city and country style pieces that look simply amazing in many different settings, agrees. He is a young man with his own children and they are growing up fast, learning to value the past in order to fashion the future.
Allpress works with his own clients to provide them all with stylish antiques, many of which won’t break the budget. He will be taking a wonderful selection of furniture, art including prints, engravings as well as objects rare and unusual to Sydney in August 2013 for the Antiques Fair, which is organised by the AA&ADA, the antique dealers association he belongs to.
There is another real bonus for those collecting furniture as a special piece, especially when it is placed within a minimalist or modern interior. It creates interest and, if it has a story attached, a warm and wonderful patina and some special detail then all the better.
Jamie Allpress believes too that if you aim to purchase one wonderful object or piece of furniture (or an art work or piece of objet d’art) each year for your main living areas, by the end of ten years (which does go very quickly) you will have acquired ten wonderful things that provide a huge point of interest for everyone.
A wonderful English oak dresser base with a great piece of art like photographic artist Bill Henson’s power image from his divine Paris Opera series above it certainly packs a punch and illustrates the point perfectly.
The variety of choice in lovely decorative pieces Allpress Antiques has available, that offer the colour, warmth and mellowness of aged wood, the gentle softness of old gilding, the variety in exotic inlays and often now extinct materials, all produced by craftsmen who refined their skills into an ‘art’ form, is very appealing.
During the late 1720’s in England the lifting of import duties meant mahogany became more readily available and, in significant quantity. It arrived in log and plank form between 1725 and 30 taking precedence over walnut and becoming the most appreciated timber.
It was fashioned into a whole new variety of designs and styles changing the furniture landscape forever.
Change in society, its attitudes and concerns are always evidenced in the design of furniture and techniques used in its construction. The knowledgeable, scholarly and wealthy patronage of eighteenth century English gentleman provided the impetus for intense artistic activity.
Visiting Jamie recently to discuss and discover the special pieces heading for Sydney that have arrived from overseas in time for the fair I re-visited his great gift for putting old and new together and in such a stylish way. We reported on this last year when Jamie and Melbourne award winning Jon Cattapan worked on a photo shoot together.
One of Allpress’s clients came in when I was there and she was filled with admiration and praise for all the wonderful advice he provides, together with the incredible service he has become renowned for.
He has a very fine walnut chest of drawers on offer at this fair that would suit many settings and has superb matched figured walnut veneers – quite my cup of tea
It’s a beautifully proportioned piece of furniture made of the early 18th centuries favourite timber in England, walnut, which as it ages goes the most lovely soft golden faded colour.
Walnuts’ attractive grain patterns and variations in colour made it ideal for veneering, which is the application of a thin sheet of decorative wood to the outside of a piece of furniture.
The carcass could be made to receive it out of the same timber or another timber onto which the veneers were applied.
These veneers were cut during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by hand, distinguishing the cabinetmaker from the joiner. Depending on the way the veneers were cut, beautiful patterns and grains were revealed.
This fabulous and desirable small piece of furniture is truly delightful, with two short and three long cock-beaded and feather banded drawers and the whole is raised up on slight shaped bracket feet.
What I loved most was the aesthetic and patina of the top of the piece, with its matched veneers, feather banded detail and soft patination, something that can never really be faked or reproduced. It’s also the sort of piece that would work as a focal point for a vista.
Providing a vista from any point people are sitting or standing in a main living area of the house, or in a point of entry is a great device of designers the world wide, especially if they understand the history of design.
The Romans loved having a vista. Axial planning in the layout of their houses meant there was a vista running from the front door through to an architectural form or feature at the rear of their house.
They were strategically placed to catch the eye of callers at the street door and impress the visitor or guest. This is a skill passed down to their Italian ancestors of today, whether it’s indoors or out in the landscape.
Being a particularly sensitive restorer, Jamie has had to give some a boost repairing broken corners or filling spaces left by grain shrinkage, waxing them wonderfully while ensuring that any repairs are visible evidence of the piece’s journey through time.
One of the main things that antique owners learn to treasure is the patina; the surface which can only be created by being built up over the course of time with the addition of light, grease and grime.
The use of antiques in traditional or modern settings will always be desirable; the lure of the past is strong. The very nature of their delightful idiosyncrasies is very appealing.
When their attributes are combined with the ‘thrill of the chase’ then, antiques are really quite irresistible.
Good design is valuable in any period.
These days most dealers would agree an antique is all about the very best example of a combination of wonderful design aesthetics, quality materials and excellence in manufacture.
It adds more to the value if it is in fine condition, has glorious patina and has an equally fine provenance; a history that can be traced back to its original owner and maker.
If you wish to purchase antiques or art it’s always a wise thing to do to establish a relationship with a renowned dealer like Jamie Allpress who has gained a professional reputation.
If they also belong to an association like the AA&ADA then it will offer you a measure of security for your investment in both design and style and happy living.
If you miss Jamie, from Allpress Antiques at the fair, he can always be found lurking with decorative intent in the shopping centre at Malvern in Melbourne.
He provides a happy service and where possible is entirely au fait with your trying out the piece you think may work well in your home before you buy.
A tip, if what you are looking for is not on the floor asking Jamie if he has what you are looking for in his workshop or storeroom will often turn up a result.
A visit to Allpress Antiques will be sure to pay dividends in the long run for those seeking to have a unique place of being. So be sure to hop on a tram, in your car or even jump in your jet and visit Jamie soon.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2014
1419 Malvern Road, Malvern, Victoria, Australia 3144
T. +61 3 9824 8551
E. [email protected]
Monday – Friday: 10:30am – 4.30pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Any other time: By Appointment
Visit Jamie Allpress
21st August (Opening Night)
Daily 22nd – 25th August
The Kensington Room,
Royal Randwick Racecourse
Watch our Video – What is an Antique?