James Watkins, former multi-instrumentalist with the electro-pop duo Chew Lips, who now runs an online mid-century vintage business.

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Watkins is deprecating about Chew Lips, by the way: the band’s debut single Solo released in March 2009 was an instant sell-out.

He has always loved mid-century pieces. After the band ended its five-year run in 2012, he would go off with his sister to markets and boots, initially collecting lamps and letterpress drawers for his flat, and then started to think about refining and defining his tastes towards mid-century and modernist.

Watkins, who has sourced pieces for Soho Home, the homewares off-shoot of Soho House, the members’ clubs group, said: “I source pieces from the usual places, including Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton and IACF Ardingly. I’ve built a great network of friends in the business. We all keep an eye out for things that another will like if we can’t sell it ourselves. I have found some amazing pieces online too. I also love charity shops and car boots, which is where my love of vintage really began.

“My favourite designers are probably Pierre Jeanneret or Alvar Aalto. I am a big fan of that sort of pared-back modernist aesthetic which is so simple but still feels really contemporary. I’ve found plenty of Aalto pieces over the years but nothing by Jeanneret.”

Watkins added: “My stock comes and goes quite quickly and a big chunk of the business is sourcing pieces for customers and the rest is sold on Instagram.”

The dealer has an interesting take on this site’s success. “In the fast-paced world we live in, Instagram really fits into that ‘I want it now’ mentality that lots of people have these days. Especially with one-off antiques and vintage pieces that people have to get there and then or risk never seeing another one again. Some dealers I know post pictures while out on the road and the pieces are sold before they even get the van home.”

And does he miss life on the road as a musician?

“As a dealer buying at fairs I’m still an itinerant traveller, and it’s still a lot of pleasure being on the road.”

Visit Watkins’ site at