2018-2019 Antique & Vintage Decor Trends

“Tread lightly, leave a small footprint, make it beautiful.” Paul Fortune, Architectural Digest Top 100 Interior Designer

“Modern luxury is comfort.” Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Architectural Digest Top 100 Interior Designer

“Good design elicits desire. You have to want it.” Miles Redd, Architectural Digest Top 100 Interior Designer

Each year, six leading global forecasting firms come together to predict future buying trends. They turn available data into color, fashion, design, and decor “trend forecasts,”giving industries a head-start to meet what is predicted to be in demand. Their predictions take into consideration economic, health and lifestyle trends, buying patterns, fashion, art, investments, and decor. The categories are all connected, and they influence the antique, vintage and collectibles industry.

Trend-Spotting For 2018-2019

Last December, we described the state of the A & V industry, and the ways it is changing. January, then, is the perfect time to do a “Trend Shakedown,” and give you the “heads up” on incoming antique, vintage and collectible buying trends. We all know that trends are constantly changing, and while no one wants to be held captive to them, it is helpful to have a “Cliff Notes” preview on what is likely to be popular. In this article, I distill information from top forecasting firms, gallery, art, and auction specialists from the US and Canada, and antique specialists with market analysis backgrounds. Each has a specialty, and often they don’t see eye to eye. They do, however, agree on a few things, and I’ll add a bit of insight as well.

This newsletter is a tad longer because the information needs more context than a simple list can provide. We think you’ll find it valuable enough to be worth the read.


Credit: Traditional Home
Antique Mirror & Sconces, Classic Regency Side Tables, Chinoiserie Textiles, Modern Abaca Rug

Less is more, and less must be the best.

The interior design world has long been a major influencer of buying patterns for higher end decor-oriented antiques, vintage and collectibles. Across the economic spectrum, it is generally agreed that people are downsizing. It doesn’t, however, mean they don’t want antiques. It does shift how they value each acquisition. Each piece must count.

Paul Fortune, one of the world’s most influential interior designers,  folds the downsizing trend into his working credo this way, “Tread lightly, leave a small footprint, make it beautiful.” In other words, Less is more, and less must be the best. Quality will trump quantity in the future. Buyers are looking for fresh-to-the-market, good condition, and superior quality examples.

Credit: Mark D Sikes
Chinese Porcelain

“He who owns the ball, sets the rules.”

The playground truth, “He who owns the ball, sets the rules” provides serious food for thought in our industry. No examination of future buying trends would be complete without an examination of who is doing the buying. Who has the strongest purchasing power, because they affect coming trends?

The five nations with the highest purchasing power (PPP) are the U.S., China, India, Japan and Germany. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest economy based on purchasing power with just over 16.5% of the global GDP. The U.S. comes in second at 16.5%. India, Japan and Germany follow with 6.8%, 4.5% and 3.4%.” respectively.

Credit: Foter
Rare and Important Chinese Ming Era Red Lacquer Cabinet

The Chinese economy has been growing very rapidly, producing not only many wealthy individuals, but also consortiums, devoted to actively buying high quality Chinese arts and antiques. (http://orientalheritageinc.com) The trickle down effect is a focus on Chinese style decor, or Chinoiserie. In other words, because China is buying, Chinoiserie is IN,  and will stay in for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, a wise word of caution, from an antique blogger in New England, is worth passing on: (Having lived in Asia for 11 years, I have seen this play out time and time again, and so must agree.)

“Japanese antiques usually sell for far less than Chinese antiques. Asian antiques are always valuable, however, most are VERY good fakes. I know of a fancy store here in NE that sells Asian finds and they are all reproductions. The owners of the store might not even know they are selling fakes, but fakes they are. We are very lucky to have a wise antiques consultant who has been in this business for over 40 years. He can spot a fake better than anyone. He told me China doesn’t allow fine antiques to leave their country, so what little there is out there is usually handmade items that are meant to look like antiques but are actually modern or even new.  You really need to be highly educated in this area not to get taken. Don’t expect to find an Asian vase at flea market that is worth thousands of dollars. That happens very rarely. Buy what you like, that way you will want to keep it regardless of it’s value”. 

The Buying Power of The Average Joe

While the Chinese, and wealthy collector may determine the high end of the A&V market, they are not the only buying force. Millennials and the middle class can’t necessarily afford the best examples, in great condition. Instead, they are buying A &V furnishings, often with the intent to repair or up-cycle and use these items in their homes. So, while the high end collector or designer may seek out conservatively priced, fresh-to-the-market merchandise, and be focused on the most rare and best condition examples, the middle and millennial segments of the buying spectrum are more likely to be willing to put in some sweat equity for the right object. They want to use what they collect, live with ONLY what they love, and love what they live with. But they want it fast, which is partially why the IKEAs of the home decor industry are doing well. This is an age of immediacy, and these are the segments of the buying pool, least inclined to wait.

The Mighty Middles and Millennials

Experts forecast “A dazzling growth of the online retail (sales)for things like furniture, where such home décor products are available at a discounted or affordable prices. (This) has also spurred market growth. In addition, improving lifestyle and an increase in the disposable incomes is also encouraging the growth of the home décor market. However, the increasing cost of raw materials such as finer woods and leather is limiting the growth of this market.” One can assume, then, that well-priced vintage and antique wood and leather furniture will have a strong appeal.

Furthermore, these experts expect the global home decor and furnishings market to grow 6.3% annually between 2017-2022. Experts state that the Home Decor Market is expected to garner (at least) $664.0 billion by 2020, with a growth rate of between 4.2-6.3%. This means that the average home decor/A & V consumer market is LARGE.

Credit: BHG
Chinese Alter Table Upcycled Into a Vanity

The Repeat Buyer: Sweat Equity, A Desire for Quality & Self Expression

Not only are these 2 groups a massive market,  but Noa Santos, CEO and co-founder of Homepolish, an on-demand interior design service, says that these buyers “are engaging with their home spaces or office spaces very similarly to how they engage with their wardrobes. A space is never really done—it becomes a continual reflection of themselves.” That means they are repeat buyers, continually up-cycling their furnishings to reflect their changing tastes, new homes, and improved financial or lifestyle conditions.  http://fortune.com/2017/06/14/furniture-home-goods-industry-changing/ 

That only one of the three main buying groups (high, middle, and entry) can afford gorgeous period examples in wonderful condition, does NOT mean that the other two groups are necessarily turning to reproductions. They are still usually interested in authenticity rather than reproduction. It does mean that whilst they may not buy original Gothic antiques, from the 16th C, or even early Gothic Revival from the 1740s on, they are thrilled to discover unusual, usable, and affordable later Gothic Revival pieces, from the mid 1800s on, especially those in decent or repairable condition.

A simple list of trends to expect, with no explanation, might be a faster read, but it would not serve you as well. Decor trends are so interwoven with antique and vintage sales, they determine what buyers will want. Our goal is to give our dealers time to source what is coming, ahead of the pack, so you can scout inventory before prices start climbing. Hang in there, a list is coming, but it is in addition to the meat of the matter.

Eclecticism: Sophisticated Potluck Style

Flavie Benard, of Paris-based forecasting powerhouse Carlin Creative Trend Bureau, predicts that, as the economy improves, “We’ll be inviting friends into our homes again and entertaining more—think potluck but with a sophisticated feel.”  This is important because one of the most powerful, long-ranging interior design trends, affecting the Antique, Vintage and Collectibles industry, is a decor style referred to as “Eclecticism.”

This decor trend prefers a blend of antique, vintage, and new, and is a style reflected in homes across the economic brackets. An appreciation for (especially) Pre WWII craftsmanship and the desire to make one’s home a unique expression of self makes this a trend, happily, unlikely to wane. This eclecticism is not just a blend of American, European or Chinese antique, vintage and modern. It is even bigger than that. It’s global

Credit: Architectural Digest
Antique Chinese Coromandel Screen, Vintage Indian Chest, Contemporary Animal Print Coverlet

Global Goodness.

Our planet used to seem so big, and exotic lands and treasures so far away.  As we become more mobile, foreign cultures and exotic handiwork become more accessible than ever. Consumers have always been fascinated by the foreign and exotic, but this, more than ever, is impacting the decor industry, and by affiliation, the A & V industry. Shoppers are already very interested in (usable) ethnic goods, especially wall art, textiles & rugs, motifs and textures. Over the last 5-7 years, goods from Morocco have been extremely popular. While interest in Moroccan rugs, lanterns, footware, and decor (etc) is likely to continue, African and Latin-American influenced motifs and geometric patterns are also expected to rise in popularity, during 2018/2019. Think African influenced graphics in wall art, motifs, textures, and textiles. If this is totally foreign to you, don’t fear. Google “African motifs,”  and you will have a mental image to guide you, as you source

Credit: Artafrica
African (Mali) Textiles in Traditional Motifs, Shibori, Indigo, and Mudcloth


Of course, this fascination with all things global is not a new trend, per se, but rather, a continuing trend. However, it is one that is gathering strength, one that will continue.  In addition to a focus on African and Latin-American influenced pieces, buyers will still be searching for Middle Eastern/Oriental, and tribal textiles, rugs, Folk Art, and wonderful artisanally crafted objects, from N. America, and across the globe. Beautiful antique and vintage pieces in trending categories are always the hardest to come by, and the most highly valued. High end buyers will snap those up as long as they last, but the mid-range and younger buyers will be hunting for affordable and entry-level examples. The time to buy such inventory is, of course, just ahead of the curve.

Credit: Apartment Therapy
Classic Barcelona Chairs Paired with Gustavian and Contemporary Furnishings

Trend Proof With The Classics

It is easy to get a bit overwhelmed with the thought of having to keep up with the kaleidoscope of changing trends. They come and go, some faster than others. If you feel daunted by the thought, consider stocking up on decor Classics. Decor and fashion trends that linger for 50+ years, and get rehashed time and again are considered Classics. Any inventory is stronger with a core of classic antique & vintage decor pieces. They are the time-proven pieces that savvy  buyers snap up.

Classic originals (or destined to become “classic”)  are often a combination of styles revealing innovation, or a new creative vision. They are of high quality, long-lasting materials, employing skilled craftsmanship. These classics are usually of extremely limited production, and so become the inspiration for re-interpretation, restyling, and cheaper, mass-produced imitations.

Classics are versatile-those pieces that blend well with many styles, transitioning between eras in ways that can actually cause disparate eras to work together. They include design icons, like Thonet, Le Corbusier, Butterfly and Barcelona Chairs, anything by the Eames, and vintage pieces by Knoll and Herman Miller. (More on the Classics soon.) Clean (not futuristic) lines, and elegant simplicity will always sell.

Underscoring the wisdom of choosing classically designed pieces over shorter trends, Miles Redd, a leading interior designer explained,  “Decorative movements can last years. Simplicity is universal and understood by everybody, whereas the Baroque and Rococo take a person who appreciates fantasy. But the worm will turn. It  always does.” The above has been an aerial view of trends likely to impact our market. The goal is to give you a lay of the land. But lists are handy as well, and the items below, need little explanation…Except for this:  Even a straightforward list should be understood in the light of all that you read above. There are 3 strong markets: one which demands the best, the rarest, the pieces in perfect shape. The next group will look for a nice but less expensive version, one they will likely use, up-cycling from what they already have. The last is an entry level buyer who will buy antique and vintage if it is affordable, trendy, and easily sourced. Collectors can fall into all 3 levels, but the point is this: no matter what the item is, a range of examples and prices will give you the broadest reach. It is important to consider that the last 2 levels of buyers have formidable buying power.

As always, our hope is that we can support our dealers by giving you the best information available, distilled into as small a volume as possible. Please let us know if there are other industry subjects you’d be interested in seeing in the newsletters. We wish you all the very best in this Happy New Year!

Credit: MFashion
Feathers and Feather Motifs

Buying Trends For 2018/2019: The Ever Changing ShortList

These trends are shifting sands, but they are solid ground for the next 2 years. My advice would be to add them to your inventory in addition to The Classics.

Geometric motifs, asymmetrical shapes, feather motifs

  • Chinoiserie, and Neoclassical
  • Velvets, Suede, Leather, African textiles (mudcloth, indigo cloth, kuba, etc) ikat
  • Antique & Vintage “Oriental/Middle Eastern rugs, textiles, artifacts
  • Uber clean lined, and metal furniture
  • Farmhouse trough and bucket sinks
  • Oversized, antique mirrors
  • Hand-drawn botanical prints, African motifs, geometric shapes & patterns
  • Vintage lighting especially, industrial, floor lamps and smaller chandeliers
  • Mix and match dining chairs
  • Upcycle-able furniture
  • Eco-friendly, reclaimed wood, custom, skillfully/artisanally crafted, one of a kind furniture
  • Vintage Wallpaper (60s and earlier)
  • Textural surfaces, raw edges
  • Contemporary art, especially paintings,  and art with a voice-gritty, raw, and emotional look.
  • 3D Wall Art, Asymmetrical Art
  • Mid Century modern
  • Clean lines, pared down, fits with many styles, smaller homes
  • Millennial Collectible Toys-Those that would be vintage pop culture to the current generation (50’s) and newer
  • Furnishings in good leathers and fine woods, natural stone, concrete, velvet, suede, and with bone inlay.

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