New York - There's no question that there's been some rumblings for years from antique and vintage dealers about the quiet rise of the new-bohemian influence within the current decorative arts marketplace. However, for many in the industry this apparent subtle changing of the guard from one style period to another not only makes sense, but in some ways should have been expected. Especially when one considers that the movement from minimalist design to maximalist décor is also representative of the chronological progression from Mid-Century modern to Bohemian chic as it actually occurred during the late 1950's into the swinging 60's.
For the uninitiated, the Bohemian design aesthetic (Boho), represents the virtual polar opposite of the Mid-Century movement. It's all about earthy colors and fabrics, wood tones, old rugs, along with mix-and-match patterns. "It's what I like to call warm and inviting, rather than cold and austere," says dealer Sheila Durst from her downtown New York showroom, which features exclusively handcrafted items from the 1960's and early seventies. Durst says she dabbled in the Mid-century movement when it was hot a few years ago, but always felt more comfortable with warmer tones and hues from the design period that came after it. "I think the world had been on a modernist trend since the early 1930's," says Durst. "First it was Art Deco, which kind of seamlessly transitioned into the Mid-century movement, until the chain was finally broken by the arrival of the back-to-earth and natural feel of the 1960's." Durst claims that sales of her authentic quality rattan and macramé pieces have really taken off in the last year or so, and thinks this movement to a more natural decorative arts feel is just the beginning of a much bigger trend.
Many industry experts agree that there's certainly been a perceptible shift away from the modern motif in recent years, but that doesn't preclude it from still being popular in a number of design circles. In fact, according to Dorren Sorell's New York interior design firm, modernism has simply adapted its focus to embrace new style elements that are currently moving up the popularity pole. "The industrial design style may bring to mind cold concrete and metal, but it also consists of natural looks of brick, wood, and other earth elements, says Sorell." So, while the streamlined look of Mid-Century modern may be fading, Sorell thinks that its modernist offshoot - the industrial look - will continue to be popular and will likely blend well with the new Boho aesthetic. Some of the more common design cues to watch for include, unfinished furniture, functional metal-and-wood chairs, along with metallic accent pieces in silver and bronze.
For design consultant Tom Hanson, detecting major seismic shifts in decorative arts trends can be difficult to predict. "They usually come on slowly," says Hanson, "and sometimes end up morphing into one another until there's enough steam to really push one particular style to the top." Hansson says he thinks the Boho style has all the markings of a trend that's likely here to stay. "A few years ago Cottagecore became a thing," says Hanson, "It was very closely associated with the rise of Boho at the time, but quickly became consumed by it." Hanson believes that while Cottagecore embraces many of the ideas of Boho with items such as original antique and vintage pottery, rustic furniture and cast iron decorative pieces, he says it simply wasn't a strong enough trend on its own to sustain itself - despite plugs from celebs like Taylor Swift. In the end says Hanson, it got absorbed by the larger Boho movement, which he feels now dominates the softer side of the decorative arts spectrum.
Hector Ramirez, who co-manages one of southern California's largest antique and vintage malls says it's like déjà vu... all over again. "When the Mid-century craze really started rolling back in the early 2000's, you could still find the odd 50's credenza as a sidewalk-giveaway in some of the older suburban areas around here, but within five years that supply was locked up tight." Ramirez says that the same sort of conditions are now starting to apply to certain Boho pieces. "A year ago I could count on one hand how many of our vendors had patterned foot-stools and ottomans, or big floral print couches," he says, "but today it seems like they're arriving off the delivery trucks on an hourly basis."
Despite the recent uptick in popularity, most antique and vintage dealers should still be able to find plenty of opportunities for sourcing out some great Boho-buys at garage and estate sales across the country. And, while it's certainly possible that the left-and-right hand coasts may have already begun to tweak to the Boho movement, it will likely be a considerable amount of time before this type of inventory becomes scarce in any meaningful way. Most dealers are only currently beginning to take notice of the trend, and consumers who are still disposing of such items at Goodwill, thrift stores, and yard sales, are likely to continue doing so until the rising price-point becomes all too obvious (even to those who are not in the know). However, until that time comes, it would appear that the field is now wide open for those willing to put 'bank' on a rising trend.
- Senior A.I.A. Staff
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