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Beau Nash: What’s the next Big Thing?

Words by Duncan Campbell | Antique silver specialist

When it comes to predicting what decorative style is going to sell, there is a useful nugget of antiques trade wisdom, the answer being – “What your grandparents had and your parents threw away.”

I think it is possible that this mercenary information might be backed up by a more universal truth about the seductive power of nostalgia. Can it really be that we subconsciously surround ourselves with the furniture and trappings of the golden days of our childhoods?

The evidence is quite compelling. Over the last couple of centuries, every 70 years or so, there seems to have been a revival. For example, the fashion for rococo decoration began around 1730 and was largely gone by 1760, then in 1810 to 1830, it came back. The revamped gothic style of the 1750’s then reappeared in the 1830s and 40s.

The Pre-Raphaelite and arts and crafts movements in the 19th century were both deeply nostalgic in their outlook, trying to recapture a more perfect, bucolic age long passed. Turn of the century Art Nouveau, though slightly shocking at the time, was also recycled enthusiastically, in Carnaby Street and then the world in the early 1970’s. More recently, post war modernism has been the most fashionable choice. I recently watched the 1954 version of A Star is Born for the first time and was struck by the interior of James Mason’s apartment. The entire set would have looked ‘cutting edge’ in a Bond Street gallery only a couple of years ago.

As a new generation begins to emerge onto the market, with new tastes and prejudices, the New Georgian interiors of the 1980’s may well see a comeback. I don’t have grandchildren, but perhaps at some time in the future, if/when I do, they will feel drawn to recapture my twisted aesthetic – what a thought!; 01225 334234