May 31, 2015

How we buy Vintage Design

One of the topics we are asked to write about is how and where we buy vintage design pieces. To answer this question we'd like to share some of our thoughts and favourite links regarding this topic - so hopefully you find the following helpful and perhaps even inspiring!

The "how" part - the way we most often approach it - has already been discussed in one of the early posts called "The HPD Model" (Hunt, Detect, Purchase) in 2012. Briefly reviewed, the process goes like this:
  • HUNT: various sources are screened via internet. Some items can be found quite easily, but in the more difficult cases it can be useful to browse sources from a country where a given item was originally designed and manufactured. The goal is to find a few options to choose from.
  • DETECT: options are locked and communication with a seller begins. Endless number of emails are usually required to dig out more details, as well as to negotiate the price. The goal is to select the item which has the price / value ratio. Remember, there is almost always room for negotiation!
  • PURCHASE: The price has now been already agreed (or won, if it is an auction), so next it is  crucial to organize transport. This can sometimes be quite tricky, and if you are not careful also quite expensive. 
But perhaps the most interesting piece of knowledge to get effectively started with HUNT is the  "where". In the abundance of online resources, where do you go to? We can of course only answer from our part, so below is a short list of our key sources we continuously follow, both actual physical auctions and internet favourites.
  • Auction House Helander (Helsinki, Finland). One of our favourites taking place on a monthly basis. We have made some really good finds here with a good price. They have a very good internet listings one can review before the auction. The items can also be viewed on site beforehand. 
  • Hagelstam & Co (Helsinki, Finland). Interesting as well, prices tend to rise a bit higher vs. Helander. 
  • Bukowskis Market. Has showrooms both in Finland and Sweden. One of their greatest benefits is an effective, reliable and affordable delivery network between the showrooms, which is especially handy when purchasing bigger items. The online site is also very easy to use. 
  • (in Finnish). Mostly private Finnish sellers. Occasional great finds, but caution in all interactions is needed as there is no formal administration.  
  • Tradera (in Swedish). Very similar to, mostly private Swedish sellers. 
  • eBays in various countries (e.g. US, Germany).
  • Lauritz. Auction houses in Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Germany, possibility to bid online. Extensive selection.
  • Bruun Rasmussen (Denmark). Possible to bid online. Extensive selection. 
  • RetroStart. Very useful vintage design portal with links to different design stores across all Europe.
  • Design Addict. Good source of information with an active discussion forum.
  • Deconet. Both private sellers and dealers.
So there is a lot to choose from and keeping track of everything to find what you are looking for can be a bit time consuming. Therefore, you really need to enjoy the process (like Pekka does) to find the time to do the necessary research, develop a good understanding on pricing, to be able to identify a real deal from a fake and to recognise when to trust a seller and when it is better to walk away. And nearly always, when something sounds too good too be true it almost certainly is.

Finally - we always remind ourselves that one should not be too disappointed to miss a good deal or lose an auction. There will always be something new and often better around the corner - just be patient!

May 26, 2015