For some, the art of collecting is a sacred act—a pastime and a mission in life. Some collectors may scour the morning newspaper for the ultimate find; others have moved their treasure hunting online. Regardless, one truth about collecting remains: it is deeply personal.
Newell Turner, editorial director, Hearst Design Group and House Beautiful recently shared his thoughts on this very subject, following his LEGENDS panel with interior designer and author Carey Maloney (“STUFF: The M (Group) Interactive Guide to Collecting, Decorating with, and Learning about Beautiful and Unusual Things,” Pointed Leaf Press).
Previews Inside Out What is the most significant change you’ve observed in collecting and decorating in the digital age?
Newell Turner It’s amazing to me how the 1stdibs experience has led to people being comfortable and confident enough to shop for serious pieces without ever having seen them in person. eBay and Craigslist have also made it possible to collect just about anything. Nothing is too obscure and/or hard to find. Collecting has simply become something that anyone can do from anywhere.
Previews Inside Out What’s your advice for collecting intelligently online via sites like 1stdibs, Dering Hall, One King’s Lane, etc.?
Newell Turner As with collecting in person: know what you’re collecting. Do your research on the subject. Make yourself an expert. Don’t forget you can research anyone you’re buying from. Most people have some sort of online identity and it’s important to check them out before buying. It can save you possible headaches in the long run.
Previews Inside Out Have you ever bought an antique online that ended up not working in your space? What did you do?
Newell Turner No, I’ve never bought antique furniture online, but I do collect levels and I’ve bought many online. The photography documentation has always been excellent, and I’ve basically gotten what I paid for. Collecting online has made it easy for me to add to my collection, and it’s led to some unexpected areas of focus or interest. In trolling online sources for levels, I started finding and picking up souvenir levels that businesses used to give away. They’re often a great color like red or yellow, and I love the business names and addresses that are printed on the side—farm implement companies, hardware stores. There’s something very American about them.
Previews Inside Out How do you keep your house beautiful?
Newell Turner We believe that everyone has an inner sense of beauty; and that like a good therapist, we can help our readers discover what they like through publishing examples of great interior design. The highest compliment anyone could pay me about my apartment or house would be to say that “it’s so you.”