Antiques with a story to tell
Ditch the flat-packs and the mass-produced - these antique pieces have a real story to tell (plus they'll look ruddy fantastic in your home).
Buying antiques doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience (for you or your bank balance), and can be just what’s needed to add that je ne sais quoi to a room plagued by dull decor. It’s also a far more eco-friendly way to shop for furniture – always good for placating that ever-present eco guilt – and practically guarantees a statement piece with an actual story behind it.
Enter Ed Foster of Foster & Gane, super-knowledgable specialist in decorative antiques and 20th century design (he spent eight years at top antiques firms armed with a Master’s in Fine & Decorative Arts & Design at Sotheby’s Institute – not bad!), and our favourite person to consult on all matters decor.
Foster & Gane is a treasure trove of interiors inspiration in Milton Common near Thame – you can lose an afternoon here just wandering around, gaping at gorgeousness – but contrary to the perceived opinion about antiques being eye-wateringly expensive, there’s something for every price point here and a back-history that Ed has researched behind every item. Maybe pick up something special for Mother’s Day (that decorative vase would look mighty fine on my 60s bureau Mr M, don’t you think?) but in the meantime, here are some of Ed’s favourite pieces in store along with their secrets.
Take it away, Ed.
A TURQUOISE GLASS PITCHER BY ARCHIMEDE SEGUSO (1909 - 1999)
"Archimede Seguso was a fantastic glassmaker. One of my favourite things about his designs was the extraordinary colour he managed to achieve in his work. This one in particular has such a beautiful graduation of opaque turquoise – from deep to pale with the subtlest blending from one to the other. It’s almost edible!"
GEORGE III OCTAGONAL TABLE
"I’m attracted to things which are a little different from the norm. The elongated octagonal shape of this table, combined with the elegant inlaid legs and tooled leather top, set this apart from the more predicable centre tables of the period. A similar model can be seen in the ‘Waiting Room’ at Badminton house. Could look just as at home in a minimal interior as a country house."
GLASS BOWL BY LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY (1848 - 1933)
"I’m obsessed with Tiffany glass, lighting and furniture. Although the iridescent glass was copied to various levels of success by other glass makers, particularly in Europe, the depth of colour in Tiffany glass is, in my opinion, second to none. It’s a privilege to own a piece of glass of this quality that’s been around for over a century."
WICKER AND CANE PORTABLE CHARCOAL BURNER
"Originally to have carried coals in the metal-lined interior so that food could be smoked on the ‘grill’, this is an example of something being better than it needed to be. The fact that it is still in such good condition speaks both of its quality and the sentimental value it carried."
A SET OF FOUR SOLID JACARANDA SIDE CHAIRS BY JORGE ZALSZUPIN
"Brasilia, the Federal capital of Brazil, was conceived in 1956 and was designed and furnished by influential architects and designers, such as Polish-born Jorge Zalszupin. The designers that created furniture for the city became hugely important in the scope of 20th century design. These chairs, made of solid Jacaranda (a timber native to Brazil) are a great example of Brazilian design from that time."
A FINE SPHERICAL PIERCED BRASS LANTERN
"These would have had lit internal candles which would throw the light through the pierced sides and illuminate a room with shapes. Although not uncommon, this one is particularly well made with unusual bat motifs and Chinese figures throughout. Coming across this hanging in someone’s house would be an unexpected treat!"
Foster & Gane at Three Pigeons, London Road, Milton Common, Oxfordshire, OX9 2JN. Tel: 01494 269829 or 07714 269 719.