Have you have thought about iconic furniture as alternative way to investment? Might seem weird, but exactly like vintage cars and antique stamps, vintage furniture has a well developed market accessible to anybody. As for any other sector, turning an investment into something profitable requires some knowledge, a bit of time and to develop some ability to choose the best things in the market.
What are we talking about? Let’s sit down on a Panton chair and talk about it.
Back to 1960, the Panton chair was the first cantilever chair ever produced. After some prototypes were produced, this chair was turned into an industrial production in 1967 by Vitra. Chairs are currently still produced by Vitra in many colours and size. The current price in a shop? Official price is less than 300 Eur. Why should this chair then be considered an investment? Just go and Google looking for “buy Panton chair”. Done it? Yes, no mistake; you have found prices well above 1000 Eur, including some scratches and sign of time. What is wrong (or right)? The chair had, over time, an amazing number of versions produced. Material changed too, from the original polycarbonate and fiberglass, to fiberglass and finally to the modern plastic ones. As a result, a market developed around this chair, and some models become very rare and hunted through the internet. Today collectors and passionate people are willing to invest thousands of euros for few used chairs and bring home an icon of furniture design.
Pretty common that a table with some Panton chairs around is illuminated by the Arco, a modern overhead lamp (cfr. Wikipedia) designed by brothers Castiglioni for Flos… in 1962. How can be a lamp having more than 50 years considered as modern? Simply because it was born modern and it stayed like this till today, with no changes in shape and material. Cost? Around 1700 Euros for a new one; a comparable price or even higher for used ones. Also in this case value of the object is driven by popularity and iconic perception. Their production will stay long and its price slowly grow over time. Compared to other lamps, when you will decide to sell it your Arco will have the same appeal and value even if used for years.
These are just a couple of examples. Want to get a broader taste? Look for icons browsing furniture magazines, visiting antique/vintage malls, or taking a trip to visit the Vitra museum in Weil am Rhein, or ADAM design museum in Bruxelles. You’ll find dozen of iconic sofas, sideboards, chairs, tables, lamps and many other items that are daily traded. They are moving from one house to another to furnish new modern spaces or to complement existing setups. Any buyer knows that these items are timeless, and will result in a good deal (and likely a profit) at the time they will be sold to another passionate.
If If you’re interested in Swiss vintage furniture, check out my post: Swiss Made Vintage Furniture: Discover Top 15 Designers