Florida - Last year we asked five experts from a number of fields related to the decorative arts to try their hand at predicting possible antique and vintage trends for the upcoming year. Their choices were wide-ranging, covering current industry favorites to more obscure selections that were definitely on the genre and niche specific side.
The impetus behind the crystal-ball-baiting was to simply see if there was any real correlation between our experts "future" forecasts and the reality of today's marketplace. Oddly enough, it turns out that some of our brave prognosticators might indeed have what it takes to be a full-time seer in their future.
To help make sense of all this apparent supernatural insight and the latest decorative arts trends for 2020, we decided to check back-in with a few of last year's top designers and industry tastemakers for some future guidance, and a little past reckoning.
Here's what we found.
1. Standout With Softer Wood (2019 Prediction)
The pendulum is once again swinging from the completely austere 1950s era cabinets with metal accents and vivid coloring, back to a more simple line with the use of natural wood and patina. The statement is far more reflective and subdued than in years past, with an emphasis on the natural grains showing through and softer corners on many of the cabinets and tables. Lower-contrast patterns and a mixing of like materials and scale is becoming more popular than ever.
- V. Candice, Interior Designer
When we heard this prediction last year, it seemed a bit far-fetched, but true to form, our intrepid interior designer from London seems to have been spot-on, as less modern is now clearly more, and apparently increasing in popularity, as the decorative metal lines of some MCM styles have definitely started to give way to a softer woodier tone.
2. Oxidized Dark Oak (2019 Prediction)
While we all know of the Golden Oak period from the Victorian era, the newest take on that trend appears to be the oxidization of such wood into a washed-out black. "Out with the old, in with the oxidized oak," seems to be the saying for 2019, at least according to style-influencer and designer Amanda Brown. Simple pieces washed dark, from the thirties and forties, with kitchen-style pulls to add to the modern flair are a great fit for almost any décor. Plus, there's a great selection of these types of cabinets at most second hand and vintage stores - perfect for an inexpensive wash.
- A. Brown, Blogger/Influencer/Antique Interior Designer
There were some aspects of this prediction that seemed to hold true, but it wasn't' necessarily the color, claims Brown, who says that while painted furniture sales continue to remain strong with many of her suppliers and clients, she does note that black was not necessarily the color of choice. "Yes, lightly colored chalk paints are still raging at the moment, but give it time," she says. "We're already seeing an uptick to the darker side this year."
3. Steampunk Infused Design (2019 Prediction)
There seems to be no end in sight to the inferential movement towards a neo-Victorian rebirth, based largely on the growth of Steampunk, as not only a wearable fashion, but as a design concept too. Married pieces from the Victorian era with lush colored upholstery and hand wrought metal are especially sought after, and are in high demand with many top designers. The desire for a return to handcrafted authenticity, especially when it comes to furniture and the decorative arts, versus buying mass produced items (including even those made during the mid-century period), will continue to be popular in 2019, and likely beyond.
- J. Garner, Private-Picker Extraordinaire/Style Influencer/Writer
Technically, this may have been one of the easiest predictions for 2019, as sales of hybrid Victorian pieces with that augmented industrial feel have soared in recent years. But is it just a fad? Not according to Garner who says that the number one request he still receives from customers is for Steampunk. "I'll pick for clients from New York to LA," says Garner, "But invaribly the biggest bump I've seen in demand has been for funky-styled Steampunk pieces."
4. Traditional Bedrooms (2019 Prediction)
For some antique dealers this might be the sign they've been waiting for... "Cozy warm bedrooms are making a return, says Jan Moyer from an upscale design firm on Manhattan's upper east side. "Bedrooms are definitely getting the warm-wood makeover from years past - we're having trouble just finding enough antique beds and accompanying suites to fill the needs of our clients." Moyer thinks that a return from the stark and linear designs of the 50s is likely to start in the bedroom, since it's where most people want to feel cozy and protected from the world outside.
- J. Moyer, interior design firm
Design firms can often be on the cutting edge when it comes to breaking trends with so many 'in-the-know' types mingling and working together. But that might not be the case here, as Jackie Moyer pointed out when asked about last year's prognostication for bedroom themes. "It started strong," said Moyer, "but requests for brown fell a bit flat towards the end of the year." However, on a brighter note, Moyer did concede that requests for darker furniture outside the bedroom were up substantially, and have been that way even into 2020.
5. 70's Style Returns (2019 Prediction)
And finally, for those of you that have been collecting and buying mid-century like madmen from the 60s, Geena Cole, a style influencer on multiple social media platforms says it might be time to drop everything, hit up your platform shoes, and head for the thrift store for anything rounded and 70-ish. "I see so many of my followers accounts just bursting at the seams with seventies design and fashion," says Cole. This will definitely be the year to get ahead of the crowd and start buying up that curvy design aesthetic - especially the 1970s-inspired rounded furniture which has become the poster child for items from this period.
- G. Cole, style influencer
There isn't going to be much argument here. Even the school's own surveys and polls tend to corroborate Ms. Cole's contention from last year, but just to be doubly sure, we decided to check back-in with her to see if that 2019 vision was still on the same trajectory for 2020, and it was. "The only difference I've noticed," said Cole, "is the volume of collectors soaking into this market... It's probably double what it was last year, and that's being conservative!"
Despite some of the near misses and hits from last year's decorative arts fortune-tellers, it's important to realize that trends are just that... trends. They're bound to change, morph and become something else later on down the road. The key to helping dealers and collectors interpret and act upon such trends within the antiques and vintage marketplace, is by collectively listening to and digesting as many expert industry opinions as possible. They may not always be entirely correct, but when considered in their totality, they can usually point you in a direction that's more often right than it is wrong.
- AIA Staff Writers
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