“Addicted to Vintage” at TEFAF

On the inaugural day of TEFAF Maastricht, 1stdibs teamed up with Architectural Digest France to present “Addicted to Vintage: Trends in 20th-Century Design,” a series of conversations that examined the evolving — and highly lucrative — market for design collecting. See snippets of their discussions in the video below, and read on for 1stdibs contributor Wendy Moonan’s recap of the panels.

Last Friday morning, hundreds of collectors assembled to talk about a topic near-and-dear to 1stdibs aficionados: the booming vintage design market. After an introduction by Marie Kalt, the chic Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest France, journalist Ian Phillips kicked off the conversations with a telling example:

“In 1991 a ‘Standard’ chair that Jean Prouvé designed in 1934 cost 45 euros,” Phillips said. “Last fall, Paris’s Artcurial auction house sold a set of six for more than 13,000 euros apiece — an increase in value of 29,000 percent. The market for design is more stable than the market for art.”

Phillips tracked the rise in prices of key pieces designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Jean Royère, Charlotte Perriand and others. Cedric Morisset, head of 20th-century design at PIASA auction house in Paris, echoed Phillips’s sentiments. “There are more collectors of vintage design today, and they are willing to spend more on it,” Morisset said. “The rarest and more exceptional pieces are getting the best results.”

Three of the brightest stars of the Paris interior design world spoke about the versatility of classic design pieces vis-à-vis their own global clienteles. Joseph Dirand focused his comments on Le Corbusier, referencing a spate of recent high-profile hotel (Habita Monterey, Mexico), retail (Alexander Wang, Beijing) and restaurant (Monsieur Bleu, Paris) commissions.

“There was a huge design revolution in the 1950s; architects were creating a new world,” Dirand said, pointing to the plain wooden stool Le Corbusier designed for his summer house in 1952. “For me, Corbu’s cube is the perfect example of absence of design with all the functions: stool and table. It’s the minimal expression of what a piece of furniture can be.”

Pierre Yovanovitch showed a 17th-century chateau he created with vintage works by iconic Scandinavian modernists like Paavo Tynell, Axel Einar Hjorth, Gunnar Asplund and Frits Henningsen. Asked why such pieces work so well in unexpected contexts, Yovanovitch replied: “Architectural lines were more pure then, and there was never too much design.”

Chahan Minassian name-checked 1970s American designers — Edward Wormley, Paul Evans, Philip and Kelvin Laverne and Vladimir Kagan — as current favorites of his international clientele. “These pieces are soft and elegant, inviting, and mix well in pure contemporary spaces,” he said.

The audience — as thoroughly addicted to vintage as the symposium’s title would suggest — eagerly nodded along to the designers’s pronouncements. When the panel closed, the crowd moved with purpose toward the section of 20th-century design booths.

It was easy to imagine that the morning’s discussions had closed more than a couple of pending sales.

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