Scroll through your Instagram feed and you are likely to come across an increasing number of photos of home interiors. Understandably, during the pandemic, our aspirations shifted from fashion to furniture. The result was a thriving market for adventurous sellers offering flowery antique décor via Instagram, with some pieces turning into social media icons in their own right.
Vintage home décor was a major trend highlighted in CB2’s Next in Design Report released in January 2021. In the world of mass production, Vintage offers a way to score something unique while also consuming responsibly—a priority for Generation Z shoppers. Couple it with most of us staying At home and staring at our furniture, online shopping for home goods has skyrocketed. In the UK, sales of home products online grew 74.4 per cent in 2020, with homeware and decorations up 108 per cent, according to market research firm IMRG.
“COVID has significantly accelerated digital adoption and legitimized the medium as a way to discover and buy luxury items,” says Tony Freund, managing editor of New York-based digital marketplace First Dibs, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. “We have seen a growing demand for one-of-a-kind luxury items in all categories – furniture, art, decorative objects, jewelry, and clothing – and in all periods, from antiques to antique to newly minted items.”
Freund says that while 1stDibs has been doing active business during the pandemic on work-from-home fixtures like bookshelves and coffee tables, aesthetic preferences tell a more emotional story. “We’ve noticed a huge shift towards furniture and objects that provide a sense of comfort and coziness, presented in a soothing color palette inspired by nature and steeped in the kind of nostalgia that hints at better days, real or imagined.”
Nostalgia is a powerful medicine, especially when communicated via social media. Sophie Blumenthal, who sells original antique furniture in Toronto primarily through her Instagramsbexchange account, points out two distinct aesthetics of antique furniture have emerged on the social media platform during the pandemic: a simple monochromatic style made up of cream tones and organic materials, sort of like living inside a mushroom, And the pastel seashell-infested wonderland is like Blumenthal of Pappe’s Florida home.
The latter is the style favored by Anna Rafferty of Chicago, who switched from selling vintage to vintage furnishings on her Instagram account, @barbie_roadkill, in February, 2020. “Things I used to find so cliched are now some of my favorite things she says about her. golden girls– Inspired pots. “I’m drawn to flashy lamps and muted pastel vases, but also more modern items, like scalloped postmodern lamps or Patrick Nagel’s prints.” Some of her most requested items are clamshell lamps with pearl balls.
Now, some of these religious pieces have quite a social media influence of their own. “They act almost like celebrities on Instagram,” Blumenthal says, providing examples such as the Marcel Breuer Wassily chair, Ettore Sottsass’s Ultrafragola undulating mirror/lamp and Vetri glass mushroom lamps from Murano. Meanwhile, it was Ligne Roset Togo, a cuddly curved sofaAnd the I submitted research material for a January article on ArtNews titled “Why Togo is the Instagram-friendly Quarantine Couch.”
It’s hard to ignore the link between #OOTD and #InstaHome, as those who found an audience by posting photos of their everyday outfits online are now proudly displaying their modern flair for home decor. At VSP Consignment in Toronto, owner Britt Rawlinson added home decor to her online fashion Shows in December, putting antique ceramic vases and mugs alongside Hermès bags and Chanel jackets. “We wanted to be able to find things so people could add that new touch without a huge investment,” she says. For Rawlinson, when an influencer showcases their home as well as their fashion choices, it deepens the overall message to their audience. “It is not enough to have only one or the other.”
influencer Hawley Dunbar, who started the Sidewalk Hustle blog with partner Tristan Banning in 2007, says some of his most popular Instagram posts were shots of their Toronto home. “I love sharing that, and I think it’s really cool that people love our space, but it also makes me want to keep reinventing it, and that’s not necessarily something you want to do with furniture,” Dunbar says.
So, has keeping up with the neighbors simply turned into household items of clothing? Banning says yes. “It’s the same desire and the same cycle that today’s clothes were born with. Now it’s your home,” he says. “You’re not going to buy a new TV or sofa every day, but the stuff is what revolves around it, the must-have pieces.”
Or you can just follow on Instagram.
Tips from the experts on how to shop for antique furniture online
“There is a little bit of the hype or craziness that accompanies someone shooting a one-off item. You have to act fast or the pieces are hijacked. At the same time, you don’t have to worry because more things are always coming.” Sophie Blumenthal, @sbexchange
“Because so many of our pieces are unique, the buyer should be especially vigilant about looking closely at the photos provided by the dealer and not shy away from asking for more if a complete picture of the object’s size, silhouette or condition is in doubt.” – Tony Freund, Managing Editor @1stDibs
“If you stick to one or two palettes of colors that complement each other and keep them as the focal point, they will all come together a little easier.” — Brett Rawlinson, owner of VSP Consignmentvspconsignment
“I recommend sourcing items that will become a focal point, whether it’s a sofa, a lamp, or a rug. If I’m going to be proud of an expensive piece, I want it to shine.” – Anna Rafferty, barbie_roadkill