We love the idea of filling the home with antique furniture, each piece with it’s own unique history or story to be told. In this week’s Antiques Special we’ve explored the ins and outs of buying antique furniture and homewares across Asia.
First time Antique shopper? You’ll love the Beginner’s Guide to Buying Antiques, and the new and old pieces we’ve curated to create an antique inspired living room.
We’ve also updated our shopping guides to ensure your search for antique furniture and vintage fashion, whether you’re in Singapore,Hong Kong or Saigon, is a success!
Happy shopping wherever you may be!
The Travelshopa Team
P.S. We’ve been busy curating our must have items for Travelshopa Collections II and we’re very excited to announce that you can now shop Collection II!!
Amidst the modern metropolis of Singapore, resides an impressive assortment of antiques from all over the globe. It’s always refreshing to discover an antique – or even better, to experience them in our home and live alongside a tiny fragment of a rich history.
People collect antiques for many reasons, some for purely aesthetic reasons while others value them as fond reminders of the past. Whatever the reason, antiques are objects of endless fascination and intrigue. In our search, we were pleasantly surprised to unearth an impressive list of places wherein one would find spellbinding collections of antiques in Singapore. Read on and discover them for yourself.
UPSCALE FURNITURE AND ANTIQUES HAILING FROM CHINA
View stunning works of traditional Chinese design and craftsmanship at this treasure trove of luxury furniture, homewares and antiques originating from various regions like Shanxi, Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Shandong, China. The owner, Anne and her son, Doug travel to China as many as six times annually to keep the collection fresh and unique. In addition to the antiques, China Collection also features a range of home accessories – from 150-year-old decorative boxes to 120-year-old Qing dynasty porcelain vases.
A MIX OF CHINESE ANTIQUES AND DECORATIVE PIECES
At FairPrice Antiques, you will discover a series of Chinese antiques, reproduction pieces and replica stone Buddha statues at competitive prices. The pieces are unique yet practical and versatile. You’ll find pops of vivid colours and motifs amidst your usual flock of maroons, browns and blacks. Special requests for customized items are welcome so be sure to enquire and the team will gladly outsource a perfect piece just for you.
COLONIAL FURNITURE FROM INDIA
What do you get when you mix colonial European furniture with Indian craftsmanship? Probably the most unique collections and distinct designs. At The Past Present Collection, shoppers will find an unrivalled choice of antiques spanning the British, Dutch and Portuguese era in India. Lay your hands on one-of-a-kind furniture pieces like dowry chests and South Indian (Chettiar) pillars that are steeped in culture and history. Each and every one of the pieces here are specially handpicked by the team to guarantee authenticity.
GUIDE TO ANTIQUES IN SINGAPORE
Real antiques may be few and far between in Hong Kong, but design-oriented shoppers may still be rewarded with the occasional lucky find and a wealth of charming and creative reproduction furniture that bear striking resemblances to the originals. Hong Kong’s fascination with antiques is hardly concealed; just take the tourist-frequented strip of Hollywood Road and Cat Street, which draws sizeable crowds on the hunt for treasured antiquities to display proudly in their homes. The adjoining streets of Hollywood Road and Cat Street are lined with shops stuffed with all kinds of trinkets and treasures – great for taking in a sense of history, not so much for sinking some serious cash.
To prevent any potential heartbreak, we rely on reputable antique shops and dealers when searching for antiques in Hong Kong. With everything from 18th and 19th Century French and English furniture to European collector’s items, our round-up of trusted retailers will help you get your money’s worth.
ANTIQUES AND VINTAGE HOME ACCESSORIES
Artek is a cool vintage furniture store that specializes in original handpicked antiques and well-selected vintage home items from all around the world. The quaint little store offers an array of vintage pieces and antiques such as stunning leather sofas, lamps, artworks and knick-knacks, laid out neatly as if in a showroom. Some of their products go way back to the 1920s down to the 1980s and are selected from countries such as the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy.
The items include art décor such as brass telescopes, procelain dolls, turntables, bells, fountain pens, paper weights, hanging lamps, animal figurines, clocks and a selection of glassware. They also have a variety of lighting to suit any mood or style. Apart from home décor, collectibles like chic vintage sunglasses from 1940s France are available at this store.
18TH AND 19TH CENTURY FRENCH AND ENGLISH ANTIQUES
Feel like royalty with authentic French and English furniture at Authentiques. Owner, Kate Davis, grew tired of her mundane day job and decided to venture into the antiques business by combining her passions for furniture, history, romance and travel. Be spoilt for choice at the range of authentic gems from the 18th and 19th century. Each item is carefully curated with reputable antique dealers to provide you with the most rare and authentic gems. Discover riches in the shape of walnut dining chairs, bronze sculptures, Napoleonic era armchairs, silverware and even wall sconces all in one spot.
From centrepieces to home accessories, this antique store does not disappoint if you’d fancy a touch of history in your homes. Davis also hosts talks about 18th and 19th century England for a deeper connection to and understanding of the antiques.
20TH CENTURY ITEMS WITH MIX OF DESIGNS FROM 1950s-1970s
Casa Capriz features rare and exclusive pieces, specially handpicked by owner Irene Capriz during her travels across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Casa Capriz sources and sells an extensive collection of unique European antiques, vintage furniture and collector’s items from the 20th century, with a mix of collectibles from the 1950s-1970s; a relatively unique concept in Hong Kong.
Their collector’s items include rare and exclusive home furnishings and ornaments. You’ll also find some sleek Scandinavian dining chairs, Italian armchairs, Louis Vuitton trunks and vintage stools. Perfect for a gentleman’s pad! Capriz also repurposes old furniture into home accessories to enhance its use. The Casa Capriz team hopes to emote the idea of design that’s closer to your hearts with their unique pieces.
VINTAGE WITH A MIX OF CONTEMPORARY
General Store provides everything you need for redesigning your homes. This store specializes in both American and European mid-century and industrial vintage pieces and modern designs. They feature a wide collection of vintage home accessories, vases, chairs, lightings and tables that are quirky and chic for modern homes. This is the perfect place to go to if you’re on the fence about acquiring a vintage or modern theme as its mix of contemporary and antique furniture is perfectly balanced. Why settle for one theme when you can easily mix it up at the General Store?
You’ll be glad to know that their design team consists of experienced specialists in retail, graphic, interior and product design, who’ll be more than happy to assist you at every step – from the initial conceptual planning to supervision and project completion.
A MIX OF OLD AND NEW MEMORABILIA
In Between is one of Hong Kong’s leading stores that feature all types of vintage memorabilia and quirky pieces from local designers. Creators Lio and Kinn, both from the creative and graphic design industry, decided to venture into the business by sharing their love for history and culture at the store.
This quaint shop is filled with some interesting and creative items like handmade flower light bulb décor, bottle cap bracelets, vintage Polaroid cameras and basically, any type of vintage memorabilia. If you’re a movie buff, go crazy with their notable collection of rare and original posters of classics from the 60s and 70s. They also organize pop-up stores with live performances by local artistes and workshops to share their creative talents.
NICHE HOME ACCESSORIES AND FURNITURE
Maison Huit brings to you an exclusive collection of exquisite tableware, home accessories and furniture. The owner Jane Chao-Lee, together with her partners Vanessa Chen-Cheong and Viola Chen-Kwan, scour the globe for luxurious yet practical lifestyle goods that are essential for chic, modern living.
Apart from furniture, you’ll find niche brands including ladies apparel like smart cashmere sweaters and handmade jewellery at the concept store. With its distinguished style and refined taste, Maison Huit serves as a good spot for filling those wedding gift registries or hunting down that perfect gift.
NORDIC EUROPEAN STYLED FURNITURE OF THE 1950s
Scandinavian themed furniture has prevailed in Hong Kong due to its sleek and elegant designs. Style50s brings you nothing less, with the most exquisite Nordic handicrafts from the 1950s. Its creators Tommy and Amy pride themselves in the finishing of each piece of furniture, which are produced in a part of Thailand that’s famous for its handicrafts. Experienced craftsmen make these pieces with the finest teak wood. Quality fabrics from Italy and France are then used to create the classiest designs.
Apart from sofas, chairs and coffee tables, you will unearth some vintage memorabilia such as old British government badges and posters. Inject some personality into your homes with some of Style50s character-filled wares.
Antique Street / Cat Street
ANTIQUES AND KNICK-KNACKS
Located at Upper Lascar Row, Antique and Cat Street may look like a hoarder’s paradise at first but you’ll be able to find some hidden gems if you take time to dig a little deeper.
These streets are perfect places to check out old trinkets and affordable junk store knick-knacks like birdcages, vintage clocks, figurines and porcelain bowls. Apart from “junk”, they have authentic historical pieces such as Ming furniture as well as handcrafted replicas like bronze statues and antique homewares to embellish your places. Hollywood Road and Cat Street are widely known as Hong Kong’s hub for antiques and curios and present a refreshing change from the lane of high-end stores down the street. On a more serious note, many storeowners are self-claimed antique “experts” so be on the lookout for imitations.
GUIDE TO ANTIQUES IN HONG KONG
The lure of antiques is unmistakable. Over and above their dignified exteriors, antiques are valued for their outstanding quality and longevity, making them worthy investments over the long haul. Many of us admire the historic appeal and grandeur of antiques, but daren’t commit to the actual purchase. Perhaps this guide to buying antiques will help you make that leap.
In any case, we’ve turned to antiques specialist, Kate Davies of Authentiques for the wisest approach to your first antique buy. Whether you’re a tentative shopper contemplating your maiden antique purchase or an antique lover on the lookout for ways to improve your growing collection, this guide to buying antiques ought to give you some valuable insights from a trusted old-timer.
BUY WITH YOUR EYE
Antiques can carry a lot of value or very little but it really depends where you live and how difficult they are to obtain in your part of the world. In England or France, for example, you’re more likely to encounter similar pieces because both countries are known for their long history of furniture-making. Unless you’re holding on to an heirloom with provenance (records showing it came from the home of a famous person or a royal family) or a museum piece, then it’s likely there will be another one somewhere in existence either privately owned or in a shop.
In Asia, there are very few genuine antiques and antique stores, so the value can be greater here simply because they are more rare. It’s unlikely you’ll see such a piece in another home, or store but you will see plenty of replicas. Therefore we encourage first time buyers to base their purchase on their emotional attachment to the piece and the joy it brings to the eye. Unlike art, antique furniture has the added bonus of being highly practical and if it has been made by a decent craftsman and has been well cared for then it will last a long time so make sure it’s a piece you simply adore.
MIX AND MATCH OLD AND NEW FURNITURE
We like our customers to have fun with antiques. Two of the best magazine references are the UK’s Elle Decor and Australian Vogue Living. They consistently feature designers and homeowners who mix modern art and contemporary furniture with antiques perfectly. Cluttering rooms with everything antique can be overbearing and sometimes oppressive but when ten to fifty percent of the pieces are antique, the room will become much more interesting and unique. For example, mix a beautiful 19th century English leather-topped pedestal desk with a Louis XV armchair (not an antique one but a transparent or black Louis Ghost). Glass tables also work well with older sofas and armchairs.
An antique will make colourful contemporary pieces appear more bold and bright. A large angular modern sofa could look more sleek or obvious opposite a pair of Chippendale armchairs. Move pieces regularly around your home and enjoy them in different lighting to appreciate the craftsmanship from all angles. Beautiful and rustic antiques change the mood and vibe of each room, almost like people. Washington-based interior designer Darryl Carter uses a lot of antiques in his well-regarded modern interiors.
START WITH A SIMPLE STATEMENT
An armchair is a good place to start if you haven’t bought antiques before, or a dining table. Both pieces are big enough to make a statement but a table can be dressed up or down with the chairs and tableware. Armchairs can be moved to a different room and if it’s soft, it can be reupholstered in funky fabrics like Missoni stripes, or bright florals to keep the mood fresh and young. Otherwise, plain velvets and grey or creamy linens can add a mature grown-up look but with fun contemporary cushions and surrounding furniture to lighten-up the room. Add a side table or a gilt (gold painted) mirror or some antique lighting. Keep adding one by one until you feel the balance is there. If you and your antique dealer have a good relationship, often the dealer will let you try before you buy. Ask!
KIDS AND ANTIQUES DO MIX WELL
Unless your antique is a precious decorative-only piece, look for sturdy well-made tables, chairs, cupboards and beds. Antiques have been crafted by masters and can be restored too. We all want to protect our antiques but often the 150 year old chair is a better buy than a new piece made in an average factory in China. Modern furniture falls apart easily because cheap components and labour help the manufacturers profit. Antiques on the other hand have lasted more than 100 years despite their regular use and often look better with age. Go for the unpainted woods and you’ll soon see that the signs of age are attractive. We call it the “patina”. Those scratches and dents tell stories and open the imagination to life in earlier eras. Perhaps while children are young, opt for farmhouse style, rustic pieces and then move to more intricate items when they can respect your belongings better.
FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH
Crystal wine, liqueur and brandy glasses and decanters are right on trend at the momonet. They make great gifts for ladies and gents. Large mirrors to hang over sideboards, sofas, bathroom basins and fireplaces (yes, even in Hong Kong!) are also a favourite. Comfortable wing-backed armchairs are popular as are French farmhouse tables.. 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 seaters which we import from France and UK. Butlers trays on folding stands make great bars and coffee tables and small occasional tables, traditionally used to hold flower pots or wine bottles, are very popular because they fit into tight spaces and are portable.
Images top to bottom: Authentiques | Smart Furniture | Darryl Carter Design | La Dolce Vita Blog | Authentiques | Darryl Carter Design
If like us, you love to collect curios and little bits and bobs from the countries and cities you’ve travelled to, this guide to antiques in Ho Chi Minh is for you! With its rich and tumultuous history, Ho Chi Minh is a prime spot for unearthing all sorts of unique antique treasures and artifacts, from colonial remnants to fine examples of traditional Vietnamese craft. To help you along, we’ve outlined the essential stops you need to make in your hunt through Ho Chi Minh for antiques, and your next treasures curios. Good luck!
Authentic Vietnam-made trinkets & furniture
Don’t be put off by Nguyen Freres’ dusty storefront façade. It will surprise you with an amazing collection of authentic Vietnamese treasures. A little eerie yet deeply enchanting, Nguyen Freres stores aged bronze figurines, ceramics, lacquered statues, embroidered textiles and blankets, tribal crafts, vintage silver jewellery and interesting artifacts uncovered from the Mekong riverbed. Elsewhere in the shop, Buddhist sculptures, Northern Vietnamese art and traditional garments woven by ethnic minority tribes reflect Vietnam’s rich and diverse cultural history.
Antiques & vintage furniture
Somewhat stranded along the Ha Noi Highway (Xa Lo Ha Noi) sits this large warehouse of antique furniture. Its only marker – a red painted garage door with the words “Antique Furniture’s”. Drop in and you’ll find a jaw-dropping array of beautifully restored antiques and vintage furniture. Wedged amidst larger furniture items such as lacquered chinese cabinets and etched wooden consoles is a motley display of curios and objects d’art. Chinoiserie chests and jewellery boxes, wrought-iron lamps and Buddhist sculptures should give you an inkling of the treasures to be unearthed at this undiscovered gem.
Trinkets, souvenirs, knick-knacks, novelty items
Nestled in the heart of town is Le Cong Kieu Street, fondly known as Antique Street and Ho Chi Minh’s answer to all kinds of curios. Rows of tiny shops are crammed with colonial memorabilia, Buddha statues, vintage coins and knick-knacks of all sorts. Contrary to its name, not all stores on Antique Street offer authentic and genuine antiques. Most sellers are open about their fakes so be sure enquire if you’re looking for anything authentic. Questions of authenticity aside, there are hordes of trinkets like porcelain, woodcarvings, jade items, metal sculptures, figurines made of bone and ivory and ceramic elephants to burrow through. Give Antique Street a go if you’re an avid collector looking for unusual trinkets, novelty pieces and decent souvenirs or would just like to gain a sliver of Ho Chi Minh’s history.
Antiques in Ho Chi Minh