Dealer Christopher Howe and his faithful assistant.

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1. How did you get your start?

I stumbled across Bell Street Market in London one Saturday morning. Spread out across the street were contents cleared from houses, old shops and gardens. Seeing these disused objects in need of repair, I was instantly hooked.

At the time I was a sculpture student at Goldsmiths but I began to buy things I liked, fix them and sell them to make some cash.

2. Who has influenced you in the business?

The antique dealers George Sherlock and Fergus Cochrane, who created theatre with their shops on King’s Road.

Sherlock would put an enormous Howard armchair in his window with horsehair and down bursting out, long before buyers had any interest in the blood and guts of such objects.

3. How has the market changed?

There is less of an obsession with restoring period properties complete with their original contents than there was when I started out in the 1980s, and there has been a downtrend for antiques over the last 15 years.

However, it does seem that antiques are becoming preferred over new furniture again, surely because of their intrinsic quality and character.

4. Has your business changed in response?

With the very little money I had it was always a case of being inventive and pre-empting changes in taste. I still work that way. I am interested in what ‘taste’ means – in fact I wrote my thesis on it at Goldsmiths – but to me taste is something to be debated rather than concluded.

5. One mistake to avoid making as a dealer?

Don’t buy something purely to make a profit. Imagine you may have to buy it back one day.

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