September is a time when we are traditionally focused on what’s new in design, looking ahead to what’s coming down the pipeline at the London Design Festival and Decorex, and at Maison & Objet over in Paris. This year feels different. For one, Decorex will be in October, rather than immediately preceding LDF, and there’s a sense of nostalgia in the air that has us looking more and more to the past. Turns out we’re not the only ones. There’s a new generation of antiques dealers who are championing history as a grounding force in contemporary interior design, and using social media to spread the word.
Take Charlie Porter, the former House & Garden stylist whose love for vintage markets and car boot sales led to the creation of Tat London. The online vintage and antiques store may have started as a side gig, a place to allay her magpie tendencies, but it has garnered a cult following thanks to her well-honed eye and 38,000 Instagram followers. This month, Tat is popping up next to Pentreath & Hall on Rugby Street. You’ll be sure to find Porter’s signature mix of vintage artwork, ceramics, linens and sconces, along with a curated selection of her favourite brands (think Parna, Manor House 1690, Frolic Lighting). Resume aside, her ability to spot the needles in the haystacks just might be inherited – her mother is also a House & Garden alum, the much-loved editor Liz Elliott. If this pop up is anything like the first, a collaboration with 8 Holland Street earlier this year, it’s not to be missed. (Speaking of, 8 Holland Street is another one to watch, helmed by 30-somethings Tobias Vernon and Rowena Morgan-Cox).
Another dealer generating buzz is 31-year-old Jermaine Gallacher whose shop on Lant Street in Borough has become a must-stop for anyone seeking postmodernist furniture and decorative accessories – though there is so much more there to see. Colourful Memphis-style ceramics, furniture and lighting sit alongside an eclectic mix that may include a Werkstätte side table, a Gothic candelabra, or an Arts & Crafts stool at any given time. It’s a distinct aesthetic that Gallacher has been fine tuning since his college days, when he had a stall trading in vintage finds at Old Spitalfields Market. He’s also turned his eye to design, creating among other things, a line of limited edition rugs that are handwoven in Morocco (and sure to become collector’s items in their own right). Head south of Thames and explore the space with a glass of wine in hand. The shop is attached to Lant Street Wine and now has a bar in house, designed by artist Charlie Froud. That space is open on Thursday and Friday evenings.
Outside of London, Somerset-based dealer Jack Laver Brister is another one we’ve been following and who has a look distinctly his own. Think traditional English country house style, with Georgian furniture, sink-in-to-me sofas, and a penchant for chintz. He may be a third generation dealer, having been brought up trolling the markets with his grandfather, but Brister’s methods are decidedly millennial. More popularly known by his Instagram handle @tradchap, The Sunday Telegraph called him “the most famous of the Instagram antique dealers.” That’s because his finds get listed there first, then eventually make their way onto his website, or you can see them on the shop floor should you find yourself in Bruton of course.
Despite their disparate aesthetic styles, these dealers share a belief that interiors benefit when there are elements of the past layered with contemporary design. That one-off item, with its patina and it’s backstory (be it known or imagined) adds character to a room. And thanks to the power of social media, we can all benefit from their discoveries, no matter where we might live.
Photographs © Miranda Porter, India Hobson, Michael Sinclair