The LAPADA Conference on March 3 at RSA House in central London included a panel on Embracing Sustainability in the Art & Antiques Trade chaired by Noelle McElhatton, editor at large of Antiques Trade Gazette. Speaking on the panel were (left to right) Nigel Worboys, director at Worboys Antiques and founder of Antiques are Green; Adam Hills, director at Retrouvius; Kelli Ellis, interior designer & European director at Ronati; and Edward Bulmer, interior designer and director of Edward Bulmer Natural Paint.

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Nigel Worboys, owner of Worboys Antiques, launched the Antiques Are Green campaign a decade ago. That initiative was “five-to-ten years too early,” he said.

Speaking during the Embracing Sustainability in the Art & Antiques Trade panel event, Worboys added: “Many people back then didn’t know what a carbon footprint was! Now the consumer really does know what it all means. We as a trade can harness that now. We can promote that we are one of the greenest products that customers can consume.”

Worboys also said the trade could do more to be green in terms of the vehicles and the packaging they choose. “It is important that every business does that. But it doesn’t involve spending a lot of money. Change your mindset and make the ‘green’ choice.”

Architecture and salvage expert Adam Hills of Retrouvius agreed that “one thing that has changed is how educated the buyer is”.

The price of brown furniture has dipped, he said. “This is a way we can get young people back into buying brown. Tell them it is cheaper than at the Conran Shop and better for the environment.”

Hills added: “We have heard from [earlier speaker] Ewan Venters of Fortnum & Mason that growth in second-hand will skyrocket. Young people may not be able to consume luxury goods but they may be able to buy second-hand more.”

Kelli Ellis, interior designer and European director of dealer e-commerce software provider Ronati, said: “The word ‘sustainable’ is not sexy. What does it even mean?

“Consumers are searching for ‘the look’, uniqueness, price and something beautiful. We need to tell buyers what they need to buy. We need to make it ‘no big deal’ to be thinking green.”

Interior designer and natural paint specialist Edward Bulmer, also on the panel, said that although the green issue is crucial, the trade must not forget what is important to the buyer.

He said: “It boils down to images. Sell individual images and objects to buyers. Make them want that item.”

For more on the conference discussions visit