Elizabethan Enthusiasm and Contemporary Contention

Is the Westminster Abbey better looking than the Shard?

Do Nokias rock more than iPhones

Ford or Tesla?

While unlikely to be asked by a sane person in real life (Of course, Tesla is better. Just kidding), these questions probably show that we have quite different preferences when it comes to New vs. Old. Whether we prefer the old classics or newfangled contemporaries, it’s hard to argue that we have plenty of choice nowadays thanks to our old (new?) friend the internet. Except, of course, if you want 14th century gummy bears. Those are surprisingly hard to find.

Oldy Goldies vs. Newfangled Newbies

In furniture as well you find basically two groups of customers – The Oldy Goldies and the Newfangled Newbies. They, quite predictably, prefer antique and contemporary furniture respectively. For a surprisingly long time, antique stuff was all the – permanent – rage. Gothic arches, Abbey-esque carving, distresses finishes, you name it. But like everything old, it was just that – old. Contemporary furniture is, hence, in the midst of a brilliant resurgence; one glance at the ‘Bestsellers’ page of Wayfair should be enough to reaffirm this. But, of course, the classics never go out of style and I’m personally a big fan of ornate Elizabethan furniture. Antique is undoubtedly here to stay.

The Oldy Goldies camp prefers their furniture classique with an iota of modern ingenuity. No one in the right mind would want a Victorian cushion-less armchair because they were (in)famously uncomfortable to sit on for obvious reasons – no cushion, spiked design, right angles, the list goes on. For the sake of our bottoms, todays ‘Victorian’ armchairs trade authenticity for comfort. Similarly, real Victorian carving would cost more than you’d like to pay for an armchair, unless you’re Richard Branson. On second thought, even Sir Branson probably wouldn’t want to pay for it. Therefore, we get modern toned-down versions of antique furniture; probably for the best.

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Antique – Made to look old / Distressed / Carved / Rounded edges / Turned Legs

Contemporary – Straight lines / Stained / Mod Hardware / Angular Legs

Moving on to Newfangled Goldies camp, these guys love clean, straight lines and right angles. And lots and lots of right angles. It’s almost as if the Oldy Goldies never took geometry at school and these guys have wrote their master theses on right angles. Regardless, Mod is characterised by – you guessed it- right angles and light, airy shades of colours. Hardware is sleek and minimalist, and chrome and glass are everywhere. No, I’m serious. There are entire sections devoted to glass on some websites. What all the fuss is about, I can’t seem to tell. Anyway, you’re likely to find Mod furniture in schools (minus the glass, for obvious reasons) and modern offices (plus the glass, for less obvious reasons). If you’re looking satisfy your mod-y desires, Artisan Furniture is doing some great contemporary pieces, both with and without glass. See? Something for everyone!

The Unique One

So after our tour of furniture types and customers (and more than we probably wanted to know about their scholarly choices), it’s easy to see that people are pretty firmly set and love their respective furniture archetypes. I’m not here to state which of them is better, that’s up to you and your wallet. What I will say is this: irrespective of your furniture preferences, there is always, always something for you out there; it’s just a matter of finding it. Happy hunting.

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Elizabethan Enthusiasm and Contemporary Contention

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