Bonhams Dines Out In Edinburgh On The “Retro” Look

. March 26, 2008

Retro Furniture is experiencing something of a revival according to this month’s Ideal Homes Magazine, but then Bonhams’ Furniture specialists have realised this for some time. Next month, on 16 April, its Fine Furniture Sale at The Signet Library on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh will include both modern design and Arts & Crafts furniture (circa 1860 – 1940) as well as other period pieces from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Two particularly attractive items of furniture for sale with Bonhams date from around 1935 and were made by Sir Ambrose Heal – craftsman, designer and eventually Chairman of the eponymous and cutting edge furniture company Heals from 1893 to 1953. Sir Ambrose Heal’s great contribution to both the business and to British furniture-making in general was his ability to take the aesethetic ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement – “Have nothing in your home except what you know to be useful or believe to be useful or believe to be beautiful” – and apply to it the disciplines and economies of commercial production techniques (albeit at the highest level of quality).

Simplicity of design, clean architectural lines and quality craftsmanship are just some of the qualities that make vintage Heals furniture so attractive to today’s shrewd buyers.

“Such pieces are ideally suited to the fresh and pared down interiors of the modern home,” says Bonhams’ Edinburgh-based Furniture specialist, Katherine Wright. “Genuine retro pieces can be bought at auction at a fraction of the price of contemporary designs and such auction bought items have the true vintage quality that many home furnishers are searching for. By using restrained solid wood furniture in the home there is the option to complement such pieces with bold and colourful fabrics and wall coverings to create the truly retro look.”

A Heals walnut and sycamore dining table, estimated to fetch £300-500 and a similar Heals walnut and sycamore lined sideboard at £500-800 are good examples of fine British design and craftsmanship and “value for money” items that can be found within the sale according to Bonhams’ Katherine Wright. “What many people don’t realise is that these days quality antique furniture can be functional and affordable and just that bit more original than what one can buy on the high street,” she says.

It was the Arts and Crafts ethos that inspired designers such as Sir Ambrose Heal. For those who are attracted to the Arts and Crafts style, the furniture of ‘Mouseman’ Thompson offers something very out of the ordinary – each piece is individually characterised by a little carved mouse.

Lot 711 in the sale is a pre-war cupboard on a chest by ‘Mouseman’ that is expected to fetch £1,200-1,800. Or, for a more moderate estimate a stool or two can be found for just £200-300 (Lots 712 and 713).

Bonhams sale will be held in one of Scotland’s most beautiful buildings, the Signet Library in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Mixing old with new, Bonhams’ sale will also feature much older and more traditional furniture such as an 18th century inlaid Italian cabinet on a stand which is expected to fetch £1,500-2,000.

Category: Auction News

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