It's a Retro,
retro, world out there - retro furniture & accessories have
never been more popular or sought after.
century designs and objects, formerly disposed of as
are now recognised as great pieces of design and solidly made
to last. Those that remain are highly-prized. The same is true
for 50s, 60s and 70s accessories such as lighting.
Here Digger Barnes talked
to Nathan O'Driscoll at Retroworld Online about this busy and
Digger: Can you please tell us
a little bit about your background and the background to
Nathan: I am a 39 year old guy who is
passionate about anything Retro & Vintage from the 1950's -
70's. Growing up in the 70's, I can still remember as a child
swivelling in my Dad's bucket armchair in the chocolate brown
lounge. I'd be waiting for my dinner to be placed upon the tulip based
dining table and for my Mum to pull down the Guzzini light
over the table. My working background was - I worked in the
leisure Industry as a Contracts Manager but was buying &
selling vintage pieces part time since 2000 (and much
preferred it!) So, I decided to follow my passion and launch
into the vintage world full-time. Initially, selling via
collector's fairs and eBay and then moving on in 2007 by owning
a Shop with a close friend in St Nicholas Market in Bristol
called Cream & Chrome Collectables. This was great fun but
with the business growing the shop just wasn't big enough! Fast
forward to today and retroworld is based in a warehouse/showroom on the Weston Industrial Estate in Weston-Super-Mare
selling direct to individuals, TV & theatre, interior
designers and also via the eBay Shop.
Digger: You have some truly
fantastic examples of furniture, lighting and accessories on
your site. How do you go about sourcing these great items?
Nathan: Over the years, I have
built up a large network of suppliers & contacts from all over
the U.K. & some in Europe that I source from, as well as hunting
from auctions, collectors fairs, flea markets etc. etc. It's not
easy but it's worth the time as the hunting in the best part of
Digger: What is so special
about the classic designs of these decades that attracts both
younger and older buyers?
Nathan: The classic designs
from the 50's-70's are exactly that - "CLASSIC". They are both
stunning & unique to look at but most of the time are better
quality than the modern equivalent! They are iconic and still
being copied today. You will see John Lewis, Debenhams, Next
etc. etc. still copying an Eames chair, an Ercol nest of tables
or a Poulsen light. Because they are still being copied today
that has led to the younger buyers being drawn into the
vintage world and a lot of the time turning their back on the
repros & looking to buy original.
Digger: And why is Retro and
Vintage generally in all its forms so enduring and so popular
with so many people these days?
Nathan: I believe its
popularity firstly comes from its timeless qualities. I can't
see the iconic pieces ever going out of fashion. The vintage
market has definitely been helped in recent years by the
upsurge in television exposure i.e. vintage pieces being
featured on television programmes such as "Life on Mars", "Mad
Men" etc. but also being featured in makeover style & also the
Bargain Hunters style programmes - these have really brought retro/vintage pieces at the fore.
Digger: Who are your
customers, where are they coming from and what sort of
feedback and comments are you getting from clients?
Nathan: My customers are a real
mixture. Age wise - it varies from people in their 20s setting
up their first home to people in their 70s wanting the pieces
back that they bought the first time and threw out!! I also
sell to interior designers doing vintage makeovers of bars,
restaurants, clubs etc. and to TV and theatre props
departments. The feedback I get is always fantastic. As an
example, I have been selling on eBay since 2003 with nearly
2,500 customers and have 100% feedback. Feedback includes
"Absolutely stunning!!! This will be treasured! Thanks so much
- perfect!" "Ebay doesn't get better than this for great
service, price and courier. Xxxx" "Item exceeded expectations.
Seller most helpful. V. pleased!
Digger: Apart from Retro
furniture, what are your other Retro passions?
Nathan: I love vinyl - I have a
1970's space-age tulip based Weltron model 2007
record player which
I annoy the neighbours with. I prefer to say that I am
educating them in the world of Bowie, The Stones, The Doors,
Lou Reed, Blondie, The Stooges, Hendrix etc. (I'm not sure
they see it that way though!) I also love vintage cars from the
70s. i.e. the classic Porsche 911 is something that I am
currently saving up for!!
Digger: Are these pieces often
bought as one-offs or are there a number of collectors and
interior designers who are trying to create a total retro
Nathan: It really does range
from some people buying a one-off piece that they "need" to
some customers who come back again and again who are in the
middle of recreating a look for their home. As mentioned
before, I have many interior designers who are always looking
to create to a complete "look".
Digger: What are your biggest
challenges and what do you most enjoy about running
Nathan: My biggest challenge at
the moment is finding enough hours in the day!! Retroworld
keeps me very, very busy. With The Internet & having the
website and eBay shop on my iPhone I am constantly working
pretty much 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. There are no days off
BUT I LOVE IT!! It really is the best job I have ever had - it
doesn't feel like a job.
Digger: I suppose being online
opens up all kinds of additional opportunities for you?
Nathan: Being online is
fantastic i.e. you have a huge exposure to the whole of the
U.K. (and beyond!)
Digger: What advice do you give
to someone thinking about buying an item from you or embarking
on a project to furnish their homes in a retro style?
Nathan: My advice would be to
read the feedback that I have received from previous customers
to give you an idea of the quality pieces that I sell. Feel
free to ask any questions at all (there are no silly
questions) and feel free to make an appointment to view any
item at the warehouse/showroom prior to buying.
Digger: Where do you see the
future for Retroworld?
Nathan: I see the future of
retroworld as busy, busy, busy!!!!
retroworld online - iconic pieces of Vintage Furniture,
Lighting, Cocktail Bars & Homeware from the 1950's 60's and
Here at retroworld we
specialise in iconic pieces of Vintage Furniture,
Lighting, Cocktail Bars & Homeware from the 1950's 60's
With ever changing stock
arriving from all over the UK & Europe this really is the
only Vintage Shop you will need to visit!! Brands include
- G Plan, McIntosh, Parker-Knoll, Arkana, Guzzini, Kartell
to name but a few. Selling to individuals, interior
designers and TV. & Theatrical companies for over 10 years
retroworld has a wealth of knowledge that can help you
find that all important piece that will finish off your
Vintage look. With many happy customers you are assured of
both quality vintage pieces and great customer service.
Read some of our feedback received to see the high
standards we continually achieve.
to view our current stock. You are welcome to view any of
our stock in our retroworld warehouse/showroom, just
contact us to arrange a convenient time.
Nathan O'Driscoll E:
T: 07989 017 957