Steve Coyle loves his mid-century Danish modern dining set, designed by Niels Koefoed in the mid-1960s. He bought the set about five years ago for $500 from a friend’s mother who was downsizing its workforce. It is valued at $12,000, he said.
“It was an old-fashioned table and chairs, which were particularly cool because they had a hand-carved tapered back and legs with lots of fine detail, plus a small side table to match” , said Coyle, who lives in Flourtown, Montgomery. County. “I’m a fan of the mid-century modern Scandinavian aesthetic – fine craftsmanship, clean lines and high-quality materials.”
He was so enamored with his find that he began learning about the mid-century furniture movement and scouring local garage sales for new pieces.
“But most of them needed quite a bit of work to bring them back to life, and even when I tried my best, I found I wasn’t cut out for that kind of detail,” Coyle said. , who now shops at local vintage stores to find pieces that have been refurbished.
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Coyle is one of many people with an affinity for vintage furniture, especially Danish mid-century pieces. The term vintage generally applies to anything over 20 or 30 years old, depending on who you ask.
“Vintage is a polite way of saying used,” said Mike Wilson, who opened his shop, Modern Fashion, in the Old Town in 1992 and has seen sales increase by 30% over the past two and a half years. “There were a ton of mid-century modern Danish stores in the 70s and 80s. It went out of style for a while, but it’s been new again for quite a while now.
Etsy, an American e-commerce company specializing in handmade, vintage and artisanal items, has seen searches for vintage or antique furniture jump 41% in the past 12 months, with searches for the 70s rising by 174%.
Beyond aesthetics, vintage furniture enthusiasts appreciate its durability, history, and quality craftsmanship of the pieces. At the height of the pandemic when getting furniture could take monthsvintage shops were particularly busy.
“As retailers continue to grapple with supply chain challenges, many shoppers are turning to Etsy for vintage decor and furniture as unique and sustainable alternatives to mass-produced pieces, with the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint, while supporting small, independent businesses,” said New York and Los Angeles-based Etsy Trends Expert Dayna Isom Johnson.
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Coyle recently spent $1,500 on a pair of “Eva” captain chairs designed by Niels Koefoed for Koefoeds Møbelfabrik, and $900 on a bachelor chest designed by Rud Thygesen and Johnny Sørensen for HG Furniture, both from Vintage bentwood in West Philadelphia. Anthony Dramshek first opened the shop in 2018 on Etsy and recently added in-person viewing by appointment.
“Over the past year and a half, sales have tripled,” said Dramshek, who primarily sells Danish furniture. “People are more at home and want unique pieces.”
With pieces ranging from $200 to $10,000, his customers are willing to spend on big-name designers whose furniture will last a long time, he said. Millennials make up the majority of his customers, although he has shoppers of all ages.
According to Etsy’s Johnson, “In the age of social media sharing, Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are increasingly looking to stand out from the crowd.”
While Mode Moderne sees a lot of millennial customers, it also has older customers, many of whom move from large suburban homes to smaller city homes.
Others, like Nancy Rossi, scale.
When she moved from Jersey City to South Philadelphia last July, she was upgrading from a small townhouse to a much larger one to accommodate her children and grandchildren. She bought new furniture to fit in her new home, but with supply chain issues related to the pandemic, she grew tired of waiting for it to arrive.
“That’s why buying vintage is great. I walked into Mode Moderne and got a credenza the next day,” said Rossi, who paid $3,500 for the Danish teak piece, designed by Svend Aage Larsen for Faarup Mobelfabrik in the early 1960s. we love pieces that have stories.”
Coyle advises buyers of vintage furniture to do their homework to ensure they pay a fair price and, if possible, see the piece in person.
“I ask the seller about the piece, then I go home and do my research,” he said. “I take pictures of the marks, of the stamps of the factories. Sometimes I’ve lost parts, but you have to take the time to know what you’re buying.