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A packed car park and buyers of all ages thronging the college’s halls on Sunday, March 12 do not suggest a market running out of steam.

The organisers, Modern Shows, founded the Dulwich fair in 2003 and Midcentury Modern at The Hepworth, Wakefield in 2018. Midcentury East is held at the Erno Goldfinger-designed Haggerston school in East London and again, runs twice a year.

For a one-day trade fair, stalling out in Dulwich is not cheap – prices range from £125+VAT, rising to £650+VAT for a slot in the main Christison Hall, itself a mid-century architectural classic. Public entry is £10 on the day.

The fee is "worth it," one dealer in Christison Hall said, "because the footfall of discerning buyers with money is guaranteed here” thanks to heavy digital marketing of the event. Loading is convenient too, as dealer vans can be parked close to three college halls used by the event. 

Supply challenge

The challenge now, dealers told ATG, is ensuring the continued supply of quality objects by known designers from the period.

Show attendee regulars scour furniture labels on pieces, on the look out for big names such as Alvar Aalto (architect and furniture designer, 1908-1982) and Elias Barup (furniture maker, Sweden, 1910-2001).

Fans of Georg Jensen (1866-1935) original jewellery pieces, now demand silver by fellow Danish silversmiths Hans Hansen (1884-1940) and Nils Erik From (1908-86).

“It’s getting difficult to find mid-century Scandi stuff because everyone’s after it,” said Michael Crabtree, a dealer stalling out in the college’s 19th century Great Hall. “We do a lot of Scandinavian objects – small items which appeal to people in flats - but we also bulk out our stock with English, Italian and French.”

Finnish furniture specialist Ilkka Martikainen of dealership Finntage sources much sought-after Alvar Aalto furniture and other Finnish makers back home and is worried about any hold-ups Brexit may cause.

“We’ll just have to tackle those challenges,” he told ATG, "because despite them, demand for mid-century is still so high."