Here at The Empty Apartment authenticity and proper documentation is what we strive for the most. No easy task when we are working with design pieces that were created more than 50 years ago and created for the purpose of everyday use. By no means were these designs celebrated as a collector's piece but appreciated more for the quality of production and utilitarian purposes. The designs we collect in our inventory all show signs of being pre-loved. Today we admire their history and uniqueness when compared to furniture produced in the 21st century.
As a true historian, our library grows with catalogs, books and vintage furniture brochures from vendors and fabricators. Occasionally a catalog raisonné has been created on an individual designer but there are still so many designers of which very little is known.
If you are interested in purchasing vintage collectible design here are some tips to preserve the historicity behind your piece:
1. Gather as much information as you can from the vendor, sometimes this is not much, especially if they do not have an era of specialty but they might have clues to get you started.
2. Look for markings, labels, and signage on the design piece. This can help identify the manufacturer and year it was made. Many manufacturers worked with in-house designers of which can later be identified. Few designers actually signed their work. Manufacturers also changed their labels over the years so this can help identify a production time period.
3. Design magazines created for the trade such as Domus and Mobilia are available in libraries that focus on art and design. These magazines can be a great resource of information dating back to the early 20th century.
4. Of course, the internet and design collecting platforms such as Incollect, Decaso, Charish, Pamono, and 1st Dibs can be great resources BUT PLEASE compare information wisely, many vendors, even in good faith, might not have the most accurate of information.
5. Furniture catalogs from manufacturers are also the best resource. Producers that are still manufacturing design pieces originally designed in the mid-century will have their own libraries and can provide accurate designer biography information.
If you want to read more about collectible finds check out our Brimfield Treasures post.