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Future Nostalgia | Unlocking the Value of Vintage Furniture

  • PHOTOGRAPHY Cafeine
  • WORDS Megan Rawson
  • Bringing the past into the present, vintage furniture has long cemented itself as an investment, coveted in Australia for its quality, craftsmanship, and connection to the history of design.

    An appreciation for heirloom personality and patina, bespoke craftsmanship, and sustainability has driven Design Consigned founder Mel Campo on the path to being a leading vintage furniture destination.

    Established and based in Melbourne since 2016, Mel has a wealth of knowledge in sourcing authentic and artisanal pieces and has built lasting relationships with local and interstate buyers and consignment sellers. “The idea started when I worked at a leading interior design studio and came into fruition after trips to New York and LA where I visited consignment stores filled with fabulous designer furniture – minus the retail price tags,” Mel says. We take a closer look at the value and points of difference that preowned items can offer within the home.

    In partnership with Design Consigned

    Purchasing vintage furniture has always transcended interior trends; however, in the last few years, we’ve observed a significant resurgence of global and Australian homes featuring covetable, rare pieces as part of their design schemes.

    Marrying past and present in an interior space is an art form, and when well executed, it can unlock a new spatial narrative. It’s widely recognised that vintage furniture goes hand in glove with premium quality and the best in global craftsmanship. Often constructed using high-quality materials such as Spanish leathers, patinated brass, and Danish timbers, these heirloom projects are traditionally crafted with a certain care and attention to detail that sets them apart from modern, mass-produced furniture, creating pieces that are more durable and longer lasting.

    This durability extends to vintage furniture being a more sustainable choice. Continuing the life of a furniture piece reduces the demand for new furniture production, which can significantly impact the environment. “By investing in reusing and repurposing preloved pieces within our homes, we’re also electing to reduce waste, save on precious resources and curtail the demand for new products – ultimately keeping furniture out of landfills,” Mel maintains.

    Design Consigned is honoured to have local Australian customers willing to shop sustainably and thereby eliminate energy consumption from an international shipping standpoint. Having an online-only presence ensures Mel can maintain a zero-carbon footprint. “I am proud to run a 100 per cent sustainable operation – it’s paperless and uses recycled packaging,” Mel says.

    Aside from many environmentally positive reasons that ensure vintage furniture remains a valuable investment, designers select one-of-a-kind pieces to add character and a touch of nostalgia to their projects. The ultimate expression of personality and spirit, “These authentic objects hold history and can tell a unique story about the moment in time in which they were designed, offering a meaningful connection to the past whilst sparking interest,” Mel says.

    Design rarities such as the 265 wall lamp by Paolo Rizzatto for Flos or Le Corbusier’s LC2 sofa by Charlotte Perriand for Cassina convey a timeless appeal that works well paired with so many décor styles, including modern Australian. “Vintage pieces add a ‘high-low’ contrast when combined with new objects. Their unique patina can add a feeling of nostalgia, that longing for the past as we imagine the object’s rich history,” Mel says.

    An advocate for women in design, Mel believes that female designers who pioneered the industry in the 19th and 20th centuries challenged the conventional design rules, set new precedents, and made invaluable contributions to furniture design. “I love Charlotte Perriand for her strong work ethic and contemporary feminine spirit, which ultimately elevated her work,” Mel explains. “For example, the strong architectural shape of the LC7 swivel armchair is softened by curves and a compact footprint”.

    Mel also adores the work of Ray Eames whose career impressively spanned film, architecture, textiles, and furniture design. “Her blurring of disciplines and playful outlook was refreshing,” Mel adds. More recently, Mel has enjoyed stocking consigned pieces by creative Patricia Urquiola. “Patricia’s Spanish heritage plays into her craft and can be seen through her use of traditional basketry and stitching techniques which offer a Spanish twist to the many prolific Italian brands she works with,” she says. “Her Leather Smock chair for Moroso and her Bend sofa for B&B Italia are perfect examples of this,” Mel adds.

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