If anyone doubts the continuing popularity of mid-century design, a visit to the Midcentury Modern fair at Dulwich College, London, is sure to set them straight.
A packed car park and buyers of all ages thronging the school’s halls on Sunday, March 12 do not suggest a market running out of steam.
The organiser, Modern Shows, founded the Dulwich fair in 2003. Midcentury East at Haggerston School runs twice a year while last year a fair was launched at The Hepworth, Wakefield.
For a one-day trade fair, Dulwich is not cheap. Stand prices range from £125 to £650 for a slot in the main Christison Hall, itself a mid-century architectural classic. Public entry is £10 on the day.
However, the exhibitor’s fee is “worth it”, one dealer in Christison Hall told ATG, “because the footfall of discerning buyers with money is guaranteed here” thanks to a loyal fair fanbase. Loading for sellers and buyers is convenient too, as vehicles can be parked beside the school.
The challenge now, dealers said, is ensuring the continued supply of quality objects by known designers, about which regular visitors are well educated.
Fans of original Georg Jensen jewellery pieces, now demand silver by fellow Danish silversmiths Hans Hansen and Niels Erik From.
“It’s getting difficult to find mid-century Scandi stuff because everyone’s after it,” said Michael Crabtree, a dealer 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.”
The contemporary ‘mid-century look’ in furniture, now ubiquitous in stores from John Lewis to Wayfair, is fuelling a desire for originals.
Ilkka Martikainen of Finntage sources 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 original mid-century is still so high.”