It’s always interesting to meet mid-century furniture dealers from outside the UK, and learn more about the marketplace abroad, so here we catch up with Lionel Obadia, who tells us why his company, Design Market, has something different to offer.
Business partners Lionel Obadia and David Mimouni. All photographs courtesy of Design Market.
What inspired you to create Design Market and what makes it different from other sites?
I have always been interested in interior design and 20th century designer furniture and, looking for 1950s pieces for my own home, I wasn’t able to find any specialist website. In 2013, as an engineer specialising in digital strategy, I decided to combine my professional skills with my passion to create what did not already exist: a marketplace dedicated to mid-century furniture and vintage design. Today Design Market presents 8.000+ pieces from over 300 design galleries across Europe.
There are of course other ‘directories’ out there – many offering a kind of luxury edition of the Yellow Pages, where dealers pay expensive fees to list whatever they wish to, with increased prices to compensate. The result being an impressive catalogue of expensive pieces – a model that does not favour the buyers. Our model is different: firstly, because we only sell 20th century pieces; secondly, because we authenticate every piece on our website with 20th century design experts (and can provide certificates if needed), and thirdly because we have dedicated teams for customer service and shipping. Half our dealers are based in France and half are located in the rest of Europe.
Can you share any insights into the European mid-century design market?
We’ve observed a ‘democratisation’ of the MidCentury Modern style all over Europe, with a new kind of buyer appearing. These new buyers don’t necessarily look for a designer name, but instead they are primarily after the ‘look’. The current generations want to bring a bit of soul into their homes in these times of planned obsolescence, and buying 20th century furniture, with its soft and timeless lines, has become the general trend all over Europe. People have come to realise that 20th century designers set the lines for decades, like jazzmen did for music! In France, people have always appreciated antiques and mid-century design has replaced this niche for the younger generations, becoming universally popular in just a few years.
Alta chair by Oscar Niemeyer
What is your favourite mid-century piece of design?
I’m a fan of the AR02 chair (or Plywood Chair) and the Lemon Chair by Dirk Jan Rol and Janine Abraham. This couple was so inventive. I also love the designs that came out of Brazil in the mid-century period, like the Alta Chair from Oscar Niemeyer, or the Presidential furniture collection by Jorge Zalszupin. Unfortunately, I don’t own any of these pieces, but I’m ever hopeful that one day I will!
Check out the pieces available at Design Market
Read more about the founders here