Today’s collectors, auction houses embrace eclectic style

The Smart Collector

WHAT: Whole rooms decorated in one period of style are so over. Today, collectors mix and match according to what they like. Forget about breaking rules when decorating, because rules and must-haves no longer exist.

Remember when every house had to have a china cabinet? Buyers call the shots now, and they buy what appeals personally. Major auction houses and savvy dealers have picked up the theme, as shown in the photo with this column.

MORE: In the one-room mock-up photographed for a recent Rago Arts “Remix: Contemporary + Classic” sale, a variety of items are featured: A $1,875 circa 1970s hand-blown Murano glass Italian table lamp tops a $3,750 Spanish gilt and bone antique cabinet; to the left of the cabinet sits one 19th-century English inlaid mahogany cellarette from a pair that sold for $3,500; and at the lower right is a circa 1980s Charles and Ray Eames armchair that brought $2,500. Now, that’s an eclectic look!


SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: The appeal of a fresh look is not limited to young collectors. Good design is good design, period. It transcends time and passing fads. Style experts come and go, but quality pieces that speak to an era or significant maker are timeless.

HOT TIP: When a look or object appeals, go for it. Problems arise in placement. The prime faux pas in a remix is creating a haphazard look or unrelated jumble. A big mistake is a heavy hand with junk; stellar pieces are needed for pops of interest.

BOTTOM LINE: While Rago was doing “Remix,” Christie’s New York announced a series of Spring Collector sales based on the same premise. Sales include collaboration with a name architect and vintage installations featuring selected sale highlights of 18th- and 19th-century decorative pieces along with bespoke floral arrangements. Presale estimates range from $2,000 to $400,000.