top of page

Antique Nouveau’ is a popular ‘mash-up’ these days

The ‘21st century mash-up’ - the mixing and matching of pieces from a wide variety of periods and styles to form an eclectic, but harmonious look. It is a refreshing approach to furnishing: a little more thought-provoking than the textbook Georgian interior and far more uplifting than the vogue for minimalism that is now on the wane. There are no limits to the re-purposing of old items, the current appeal for the “Industrial Chic” style prevails in many places. However, the current taste for the old with the new has yet to have a name, perhaps it could be called “Antique Nouveau”. Examples of this style are distressed leather armchairs, with that “lived in” look; placed next to an ultra-modern cabinet, the contrasts enhance both styles. With some people have more time on their hands because of Covid -19 there is more time to browse auction websites and prices are good for both styles old and modern- that only a few years ago would have had a second-hand value only.

The 20th Century “Antique Nouveau” interior look, is why old and modern furniture is selling well at auction. This interior shows two traditional Windsor chairs alongside modern design slung armchairs and modern art.

This modern design ‘Primavera’ cabinet is designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, manufacturer, with four drawers on an ebonised stand, it made £600, exactly the same price as the 19th Century wing armchair.

Typically, the “Antique Nouveau” look features period objects like marble top console tables, painted classical columns and gilt mirrors, as well as, bronze and marble busts, French clocks, and lighting. All benefit from careful meshing alongside designer objects and fresh upholstery. It is not surprising that the modern tastes feature some classical elements. Throughout history there is often a tendency during uncertain times to revert to traditional and classical styles. There is a reassuring familiarity about things that we know and are familiar with. A typical example is the classical revival in the early part of the 20th Century before the 1st World War, the decorative style at the time featured mainly classical elements and motifs and is called “Sheraton revival” in the auction world.The modern element here is the Herman Miller cabinet. Herman Miller was founded in 1905 as the Star Furniture Co. in America. Until 1930, the company produced only traditional wood furniture. With the Great Depression the company was forced to explore new products to survive in a shrinking marketand hired designers who specialized in modernist designs. Turning the company in a totally new direction. Herman Miller entered the office furniture market in 1942, with the introduction of the "Modular Executive Office" Group (EOG), the first in a long line of office furnishings to be produced by the company. They are credited with the invention of the office cubicle (originally known as the "Action Office") in 1968, which changed working in an office for ever. Designer George Nelson was to have an enormous influence upon the Herman Miller company, not only for his personal design contributions, but also for recruiting talented designers to its ranks, including; Isamu Noguchi, Charles and Ray Eames and Robert Propst, -inventor of the office cubicle. At the beginning in the late 1940s, the period under George Nelson's guidance (designer of the cabinet featured here) saw Herman Miller produce some of the world's most iconic pieces of modern furniture, including the Noguchi coffee table-suitable for both private or office use; Eames Lounge chair, and the Marshmallow sofa.

A modern design coffee table designed by Isamu Noguchi, (like the one seen on breakfast television) the freeform sculptural base with a biomorphic glass top for use in both residential and office environments was designed in 1947 for Herman Miller manufacturers. In made £250 in a recent specialist auction.

With a little imagination lots of antiques can be successfully integrated with modern and decorative pieces. dress up traditional objects, such as oak and country furniture, with Modern British Art. what is fast becoming a mainstream way to decorate interiors.

If you have antiques and collectables that might be valuable? It is worth getting the advice of an Independent Antiques Valuer to assess your items.

For further information please contact Vivienne Milburn on Bakewell 01629 640210 or Mobile 07870 238788 email-

48 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page