When vintage meets contemporary

We share tips that will feed your love for antique items while sustaining the modern vibe of your home.

Saman Javed May 23, 2014
Antique hunting doesn’t always result in pleasant discoveries, but that’s all part of the fun. PHOTO: PUBLICITY


Some of the most beautiful and unique articles of furniture are the ones that have previously belonged to someone else. Once you’ve discovered your love for vintage furniture, the first space you should explore your passion in is your home. But if you wish to sustain the contemporary vibe of your house, you may need to know a few tips.

Although challenging, integrating the old with the new can give your home a fresh and revamped look. The Express Tribune shares tips from a furniture designer and takes a sneak peek into a homeowner’s design choices, which will inspire you to decorate your own houses.

“The best place to look for antique objects is your mind, your eyes – there is no established place to locate the right objects. It could be from a thela, footpath vendor or an old dormant building. Not all things are classic, the antique value comes from their beauty,” says Javed Alam, an antique collector.

His home is his canvas, with adorned ceilings and walls that are art, classic vintage pieces that get a new lease on life and the finest old finds. It is possible to have avid interest in the designs of polarised eras, provided you have the right aesthetic sense to merge them.

Antique hunting doesn’t always result in pleasant discoveries, but that’s all part of the fun. It’s all about having an eye for these collectors’ items – we can’t help but think that there must be some place where you can almost always find something.

“The most bizarre places have the best things. I have found some of my most prized discoveries in textile machinery warehouses or dumps where you find car spare parts. I have a vintage Mercedes, so I pay a weekly visit to the flea market, SherShah [one of the neighbourhoods of Kemari Town]. It’s a great place for stuff for my car and also the hub for the most beautiful antique items,” says Alam. “It is tedious, but then again, if you truly have a passion for vintage pieces, then you have to make an effort to acquire them,” he adds.

One day, Alam bought a huge black teak dressing table, which had a Victorian feel to it. After inspecting it closely, he came across a stamp that said ‘East India Company 1890’. Without knowing it, he had gotten an exceptional antique. “Another unexpected hub for antique pieces is the Metroville Area Site’s textile warehouses. I have found some of the best brass and wooden items there. The intricate work and designs, which stand out once these goods are polished, are to die for,” reveals Alam.

Brass has a very attractive colour, lustre and finish, but it gets soiled very quickly. Any contact with acid or continuous contact with moisture will cause patina to form on the surface. “It’s always best to use sand paper to get rid of the patina or rust that may appear on the surface. This will bring out the true beauty of the item. Use a toothbrush to remove dirt from places that are hard to reach. Once that is done, polish the item using glint and lacquer for finishing touches,” explains Alam.

He loves the playful aspect, excitement and tension that mounts when a product goes under the hammer and when he is able to make a winning bid. He acquired an antique piano at an auction, which is one of the most sought-after pieces at his residence.

You have to use your aesthetic sense to create illusions. An interesting piece at Alam’s residence was a brass thaal sliced in two pieces; one was drilled on one side of the beam and the second on the other side, successfully creating the illusion of the thaal being embedded in the wall and protruding from both sides. It is all about how you visualise something and how you choose to play around with it.

Furniture designer, Ainee Shehzad stocks a range of furniture. She propagates an amalgam of the classic and the contemporary. “Classic furniture is a wonderful option and aids in breaking design monotony,” says Shehzad. “I take inspiration from nature, people, objects, images, art and books. I’m an avid traveller and learn a lot from my observation of different cultures,” she adds.

On advising those interested in incorporating vintage furniture into their home space, the designer says, “I think that traditions need to be held onto with an eye on the future. That’s what makes life exciting. Furniture layouts created this way add energy and inspiration to your house and reflect artistic beauty. Vintage coupled with contemporary is the perfect combination.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2014.

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