Buying and selling is not a nine to five job. We don't go to the office, turn on the computer and respond to the emails that have come in over the past 24 hours. Actually, we do go to the office and respond to emails, do paperwork and diligently update the website. But as well as doing all these things we are also "on" around the clock, thinking of new strategies to market our business, new ways of reaching new customers, and putting the stock together for the vintage market at the weekend. And then there is the obsession, the thrill of the chase, and the never-ending hunt for the next perfect item. The one that stands out when you enter the junk shop or collectors fair, that is of the highest quality and the most visually pleasing. It has a makers mark, it is not damaged and has a great aesthetic-bliss. We photograph it, put it on the website, and it sells. And we are sad to see it go. The dealer is the collector, whose items never stay in one place, and is always saying goodbye to the things they love. And so we start again. Not begrudgingly but with excitement, delight and hunger.
This obsession never goes away. Whether on holiday with the family in Sicily, scouring the flea markets for vintage pairs of Italian sunglasses or on a weekend trip to Manchester. These hunts always involve a little research on the internet, Instagram, and then hours of strolling around the area and disappearing down small lanes that look promising. In fact, it is often this intuitive way of navigating towns and cities in search of new stock that leads to discoveries about the places themselves. Cafes serving great food, or a small niche museum. These journeys on foot are also an introduction to the local architecture and an exploration of traces of the past. Supersize Victorian buildings spark the imagination, what was the building used for and where did the money come from to build such enormous palaces of the industry. Why were the architects and designers so attentive that even window design, cornerstones and finials are curated to perfection. Thankfully some historical buildings have been saved, repaired and repurposed, while others have been knocked down and replaced with bland white boxes or others are a shadow of what they were, fading painted fonts recalling names of companies that no longer exist.
It is these buildings, or what was contained within that provides some salvage companies with their core products, industrial lighting, draftsman's chairs, banks of pine factory draws. At the Arqivist while we love industrial design, we are often more captivated by the products that these factories would have been making, and the small tools they would have used to make these products. Particular favourites include modernist typewriters, leather goods, fountain pens, and desk lamps. Items that are both beautiful and functional. And once we have found these we put them here, right on our website. And begin the search all over again.