For many in the industry, the next twenty years seemed to be a case of endlessly wandering the desert in search of the perfect fit for dealer and customer. It was also during this time that the stainless-steel revolution entered the market, and things seemed to fall even further down the rabbit hole, as the public shifted away from anything old, choosing instead to migrate to the land of Ikea and everything that was shiny, new and disposable.
While this somewhat odd pairing may have seemed unlikely at first to many in the industry, to Tina Wayne, an online retailer with a vintage shop on Etsy and eBay, the connection couldn't have been more obvious. "Millennials want to be cool and standout," she said, "but it's hard to do so when buying the same catalog furniture as everyone else, or being priced out of the mid-century market, so you end up turning to whatever's leftover to make a statement about your individuality."
Being original is certainly an impetus for millennials as they age, as it's a generation that was often knocked with the moniker of sameness and herd-mentality when it came to expressing their interests in anything - including the decorative arts. However, today that notion seems to be changing rather quickly, as Susan Hoftner, a millennial herself, noted when over on a buying trip to London's Olympia Fair in England recently, "There were just so many people my age scouting about, looking for a deal on home furnishings." she said. "It's truly amazing, because five years ago these would have been the very same people I would have seen at Ikea or some other big-box store." Hoftner believes it's a combination of factors driving millennials sudden interest in older styles of furniture and decoration, "I think at some point in time you start wanting a little uniqueness in your life that isn't going to cost an arm-and-a-leg... especially when you're working within a budget."
In the end it may just come down to price. You buy what you can afford, and right now old Victorian furniture is very affordable. For Timothy Pike, it doesn't really matter what the reason is, so long as it sparks a renewed interest in some of the classics from the past. "If it takes millennials to reignite the flame, so be it," says Pike, "I'm just happy to see a younger generation showing some interest in their own history - and then buying it!"
- A.I.A. Staff Writer's
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