2016's 18 best antique buys

Looking to invest in 2016? Lynnette Peck asks experts which antiques they have their eye on this year

As the new year continues apace, our thoughts turn to the objects, designers and eras that will be seducing antiques hunters in 2016.

2015 was the year of folk style furniture and textiles, championing craftsmanship, all things mid-century and softened industrial looks. Scandinavian furniture of the 60s and 70s was also highly desired and informed many new high-street collections, while a trend for painting less important, older pieces of furniture to update them was almost as big as the fashion for shiny metals – with copper, in particular, enjoying a renaissance. And we just couldn’t get enough of the pineapple motif, seen in everything from wall sconces to ice buckets to porcelain sugar bowls.

So what can we expect to see in the coming year? Will 2016 at last be when that the oft-predicted return of brown furniture finally takes shape? What will be the textile of choice, and will any of us be brave enough to recreate the Horniman Museum in our living rooms, as fossils and minerals rise to the surface?

Here antiques dealers and experts give us their predictions for 2016's most covetable objects and trends.


Chosen by Katherine Higgins, Antiques Roadshow expert

‘The trend is for everything symmetrical and geometrical as it was in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I am seeing it in Portmeirion tableware from that period, which is becoming increasingly popular. The tall shape known as ‘Cylinder’ was key to the look of Portmeirion in the 1960s as it was very structural. Any ceramics and tableware along that line will be popular, along with Verner Panton-style circles, op art, black and white and playing with circles and squares. Look for very bold uses of colour. All of this is very much part of the retro trend that continues. This is because our interiors are still quite white so we are looking for colour to liven them up. I was in Scandinavia recently and all the kitchens there are white but are lifted by bright and colourful accessories.’


Chosen by Mark Wilkinson, director of decorative arts UK at Bonhams

‘People are mixing and matching in their homes and can have an Old Master and a bright contemporary print next to each other on the wall. One no longer walks into a ‘Regency room’ or ‘art deco-style room’. My tip is to buy a piece of antique oak furniture and put a modern British picture next to it. They go incredibly well together. There is a trend for placing lots of different paintings on one large wall – it is so homely. I say, just be bold with your decorating.’

Image: Rachel Whiting


Chosen by Simon Schneider, antiques dealer

‘Art deco bronzes are still very strong. Look out for the Josef Lorenzl Austrian bronze sculptures and especially the bigger pieces as they make good investments that continue to go up in value.’


Chosen by Toby Woolley, director of decorative arts and clocks, Christie's London

‘I particularly like architectural fragments as an ornament either on the wall or, for larger pieces, on a plinth or the floor. It’s hard to beat a good Corinthian capital. Chimneypiece tablets and carved panels in marble or more ornate larger reliefs in plaster are often used by good interior designers. It’s certainly not a new trend, but it is back again. Just visit the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London to see how to do it obsessively.’


Chosen by Will Thomas, managing director of loveantiques.com

‘From a buyer point of view more people are bearing in mind the green credential of antiques. Whereas some flimsy modern drawers get thrown out, we are seeing more people purchasing brown furniture to last. It has been through a slump for the last ten year but is now going up and while not flying in value, there is an increase in the amount being traded. Although I am not a dealer I have observed more of it being sold than in the previous decade. Shabby chic is no longer in, so get buying the classics instead.’

Image: Edward Hurst



Chosen by Mieka Sywak, LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair director

‘There is a trend for 18th-century revival antiques, whether Egyptian or Greek-inspired. Classical and neoclassical design and arts heavily influenced the period and the quality of materials is exquisite. It is these materials, designs and patterns you find emulated today, but the revival styles are more enticing than today’s adaptations – and worth saving up for.’

Image: Roman mosaic-style tabletop from Craig Carrington


Chosen by Simon Schneider, antiques dealer

‘Huge right now are 20th-century decorative arts. Look out for Royal Worcester, Clarice Cliff and Moorcroft, plus artists like George Owen Wynne Apperley (1884–1960, whose painting Talavera is pictured above) and The Royal Worcester Stinton Dynasty. Clarice and Susie Cooper were strong in the 1980s and then dipped but now there is a resurrection. Only buy the best bits of top quality. Interest rates have been very low for so long that people are buying pieces as investments instead of putting their money in low-interest savings accounts.’


Chosen by Rupert van der Werff from Summers Place Auctions

‘Over the past few years we have witnessed a growth of interest in fossils and minerals and this trend will continue long term. Interest in the natural world has grown enormously and the two are surely related. Admiration for minerals and fossils is not based on an academic or collector’s viewpoint but rather it stems from their use as decoration. The fact that they can work in traditional and contemporary decors makes them so universal. In today’s marketplace more and more astonishing fossils are appearing as preparation techniques continue to improve. Similarly with the shrinking of the planet in terms of trade and travel, rare minerals that were once fabulously rare, while still uncommon, are available to a much wider audience.’

See Homes & Antiques March 2016 (out 4th February) for plenty of ideas for decorating with antique fossils



Chosen by Mieka Sywak, LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair director

‘I love blue-and-white Kraak porcelain, which is still relatively affordable. It was the first Chinese porcelain to be imported to Europe in mass quantities and one can really see the variation of the painter’s brush stroke. Although the pieces were created at speed, they were still hand produced. Blue-and-white porcelain has always been in fashion to some degree, but I find Kraak porcelain particularly charming at the moment. There is still enough to be found today and I think it is fun to hunt for something you can recognise from a Dutch still life painting.’



Chosen by Mark Stacey, TV personality and consultant at Catherine Southon Auctioneers & Valuers Ltd

‘The market will keep going toward the simple, stylish look, so check out modern designers in silver, glass and furniture and good studio potters such as Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and others. Prices are high but still rising so it is a good time to buy. Good, untouched, small pieces are always sought after.’



Chosen by Will Thomas, managing director of loveantiques.com

‘Old geography school maps are very popular with people as they are quite decorative and definitely look unique. I bought one myself the other day. It was a world map that had originally been in a school 100 years ago. I paid just £100 for it and it had the original wooden poles on the top and bottom so it doesn’t need to be framed. People are now hanging maps on the walls of their homes like they used to hang oil paintings and other works of art.’

Image: Mari Eriksson



Chosen by Mark Stacey, TV personality and consultant at Catherine Southon Auctioneers & Valuers Ltd

‘The main trends I see for 2016 are small, decorative, quality, quirky one-off pieces. Buyers want something that can’t be found every day. The key is to look out for good names from the past in all areas, especially good designers from the 1940s to 1970s.’

Image: 1920s painted and planked railway sign from  Drew Pritchard



Chosen by Cécile Verdier, Sotheby’s European head of design

‘London is now one of the great design capitals of the world. It was the perfect moment late in 2015 to relaunch our 20th Century Design Sales in the city that is fast becoming a hub for innovative modern design. These pieces are not only for collectors and connoisseurs, but also for those who want to live with exceptional objects in their homes. We expect this truly global interest to continue. This is due to the strong enthusiasm of international collectors for design masterworks from prestigious private collections.’



Chosen by Toby Woolley, director of decorative arts and clocks, Christie's London

‘I have come across many clever conversions of old sculptures, vases and other ornaments into modern table lamps or even unusual chandeliers. Lighting technology has really advanced in recent years; we are no longer restricted to the simple old light bulb and fitting. A combination of new and old, when done well, can be unique and unbeatable.’

Image: Upcycled military crate from The Old Cinema



Chosen by Lennox Cato, Antiques Roadshow expert and antiques dealer

‘Modern British, which is 20th-century art headed by people who have connections in the art and literary world, is now very popular. It can be a piece of sculpture or a painting but the provenance has to have a tenuous connection to somebody who knew somebody who was famous, for example an extended member of the Bloomsbury Group. If something is ‘in the style of’ then it will be popular. But don’t just buy on price but instead use your eye and buy what you love.’

Image: Provence by Roger Fry



Chosen by Simon Schneider, antiques dealer

‘The Victorian amber beads market has gone crazy for the reason that many people in the Middle East use them as ‘worry beads’ and they are very popular in China too. As China is a new market in the business expect to see this having a huge effect on trends. In terms of amber beads, the only colour you should buy is ‘English mustard’. People are not only buying them to collect because they like them, but are also buying them as an investment and weighing them, for in the current market they are worth more than gold.’



Chosen by Mieka Sywak, LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair director

‘We are seeing contemporary fashion designers integrating antiques, and especially textiles, into their shows and designs. This autumn for example, Gucci sent its catwalk models out on antique Persian rugs, Tory Burch created an entire collection based on antique textiles (her sweater dress is pictured above) and Givenchy designed kilim-inspired men’s suits. I think fashion is a serious driver in terms of interiors trends so inevitably this will bolster the market as a whole.’



Chosen by Katherine Higgins, Antiques Roadshow expert

‘A linocut is produced in a manner similar to a woodcut but uses linoleum as the surface into which the design is cut and printed from. These are now very popular as they are a clear, decorative design and an understandable form of art that is populist. Everyone can grasp wood block printing and this is a move on from that. I love the simplicity of it – pared down, basic and smooth. This back to basics, modern pared down look is definitely a trend. Look at linocuts by Edward Bawden especially.’

Image: Negro Guitarist by John Brunting

This feature was first published in Homes & Antiques' January 2016. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here


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