While high street stores are currently inundated with 20th-century adaptations and reissues, furniture company NoRepro believe that the lasting quality of an original simply can’t be beaten. But why has this era become so popular? Futurespace Magazine asks NoRepro owner Dominic Chadwick.
Rather romantically, NoRepro believe there should be a sense of narrative to each item of furniture they sell. For them, it’s not just the aesthetics of the pieces they source (which are astonishingly good), but also their history and the idea that the pieces they sell, which have already lasted anywhere up to a century, will probably last another lifetime, purely because they are of an age where careful consideration to materials and enduring design were paramount.
Dominic believes that 20th-century pieces will remain popular due to the way they fit so harmoniously with modern-day living. But why are we so obsessed as a nation now? “It certainly has something to do with our modern lifestyles, to which modern design is eminently suited,” he says. “Vintage pieces are the obvious choice for people who want to own something well made and of worth.
“While nothing lasts forever, 20th-century design has recently been recognised in a way that will ensure it continues to grow in popularity and desirability for many years to come. In the same way that Courbet and Manet are progenitors of modern art (their prices continuing to soar), the designers who perfected modernist furniture will be seen as the most important architects of interior design until our species decides to live in microchips.”
After reading History of Art and Architecture at university, it is clear that Dominic has a good eye for design, developing a love of sculptural, ergonomic creations. While his furniture heroes are Finn Juhl and Peter Hvidt, he is not blinded by names when it comes to sourcing quality pieces.
“We do have a good representation of the best-known designers, but we also include Brazilian, deco and more obscure Scandinavian design. We have developed an interest in the Norwegian designers like Fredrik Kayser and Torbjorn Afdal who, while not as well known as Wegner, Hvidt, Juhl et al, made fantastic furniture that is every bit as striking and well crafted as the famous pieces. There’s also good selection of the higher-end items – things of beauty and rarity that are also investable, such as the gorgeous Kofod-Larsen Elisabeth chair.”
But surely these are worth a pretty penny – what about high street versions of the classics; do they not serve a purpose too? Although NoRepro understand that some people might not want to delve so deep into their pockets, they believe it’s all about a question of mindset.
“We think furniture should last, not be disposed of every couple of years. The real thing is almost always made with greater expertise from better materials, which is why it has lasted so long in the first place. We feel that people are coming round to the idea of spending a bit more on an item of longevity which has almost no environmental impact and which will retain or increase in value.”
NoRepro certainly care for each piece that comes their way, with their most special find being a pair of armchairs by Peter Keler, a professor at the Weimar Bauhaus. “Although they were unattributed and in very tatty condition when we found them, the form screamed Bauhaus. After a careful restoration transformed them into the most glorious, most prestigious (and oldest) piece of 20th century design it’s ever been our pleasure to sell.”
Due to their popularity NoRepro have now outgrown their original Dalston space and have just moved to the very cool Tram Depot studios; a beautifully industrial cobbled setting in Hackney where they hope to hold furniture exhibitions in the near future. The new space will give them the chance to diversify their furniture range and the hope to expand on their passion for lighting by introducing more Danish, Italian and Bauhaus pieces.
Visit www.norepro.co.uk for details of events and new items, and to purchase original pieces.