Friday, March 19, 2010

My name is Trailing Spouse and I am a Design Addict . . .

Very few people outside of friends and family know this, but I am addicted to buying and selling Mid-Century Modern furniture, houses, art and home d├ęcor.  I feel I must disclose this because I have been meeting random people who have been reading this blog here in Europe.  They are under the impression that the reason I agreed to move from America, LEAVE MY CHILDREN, sell my business and basically, give up my life, was my undying devotion to Mr. Big.  Ha!  No.

The reason I jumped all over this opportunity was because I would be that much closer to Denmark and, possibly, Sweden.  Seriously.  Let me explain.

You know all of that crazy, retro furniture that your parents eventually consigned to the basement made out of plywood and plastic that you wound up selling at garage sales in the 1990’s?  Sometimes people call it Brady Bunch furniture?  I covet that stuff.   Remember Mom and Dad’s “Danish Modern” hutch full of turquoise and orange pottery with mod squiggles on it?  Love, love, love!

My homepage on my computer is  I own a 1957 midcentury modern home in South Carolina that I bought just because I was mesmerized by the architecture and wanted to furnish it to the period.  My entire apartment in Switzerland, (circa 1910), is furnished a la 1950’s.  So, what could be better, after raping the American South of most of their midcentury treasures for the past three years, than now setting my sights on Europe?

Granted, I have been a “traditional” antiques dealer for nigh on two decades.  I have been to Europe many times, sending home containers of fine English and Continental antiques to sell to the ever-hungry Housewives of Charleston and environs.  But, how many bowfront Mahogany chests can one sell before it starts to make one’s hair hurt?  If I never see another Welsh cabinet stuffed with pewter chargers or another Victorian rosewood settee ever again as long as I draw breath, I can die a complete and satiated woman.

However, just the glimpse of a Fifties’ West German pottery vase, laying quietly tucked in a cardboard box in the middle of a scruffy blanket at a “Brocante Faire”, which is a glorified flea market, causes my blood pressure to rise, my eyes to start darting back and forth in order to check out potential competitors who may be honing in, (RIGHT NOW, HERE THEY COME!) on my find even while my face begins to assume a casual blankness known only to habitual Botox users.

“Excuse moi, Madame?”, I ask, oh-so-casually.    “Combien pour cette vase?”  (How much for this vase?)

“La bas?”  (She points to my vase, asking me if I am indeed inquiring about the butt-ugly lime green and turquoise vase “over there”).

“Oui, Madame.”  She shrugs and says “Cinq franc”.  Which is five franc or around 4.60 US dollars.  I quickly run her answer through my head two, three or four times to ensure myself that she has said 5 franc and not 15 or 50 or, God forbid, five hundred, which all kind of sound the same when your French sucks like mine.  No, it was definitely 5.  Inside my head, angels are singing, bugles are blaring and all is good and right with the world.  5 bucks!  It might as well be free!  Bless her heart, to her it was just an ugly ass vase and she is glad to unload it and not try to have to recycle it here in the land of Rigid Recycling Rules.

But to me, to me, it is a little piece of fabulousness.  Swedish glass, West German pottery, Danish teak bowls, Marimekko fabrics from Finland.  Lawd Amighty, I have to fan myself just writing about them.  I am attaching some pix of the finds that I have made here in the last year that have me out every weekend trolling the flea markets of France, Switzerland, Belgium and occasionally, while slumming, Deutschland.

Next time I’ll tell you what I found at the Geneva flea market two weeks ago and give a list of some of the best markets around.  Ciao, ciao, and happy hunting.

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