Kya deLongchamps says the top 1960s sideboards are as good an investment as the best of Georgian
Low-slung, lushly veneered, almost unbearably cool, English and Scandinavian made sideboards became a staple course in our hunger for mid-century over the past 15 years. The hysteria for high waisted coffee pots and ceramic duck wall trios from the ‘50s may have quietened, but a good sideboard retains a purity of line that can survive stylistic changes and will sit with brand new or even layered period furnishings with equal ease.
Are you interested in not just staging retro furnishings but potentially making a return on the investment for you or the heirs to your earthly ballast? With the increasing challenge of factory-made, utility furniture for the growing middle-classes, not all mid-20th century pieces carry that essential quality.
Let’s separate the ordinary, everyday high street brown board from hand-crafted examples that are worth the hunt, the extra spend, and which will be most likely to be desirable at glossy 20th-century vintage sales in the future. These are just a few makers and firms to consider — trawl the catalogues of the top auction houses dealing with feted 20th-century design and you’ll find many more.
Geoff Kirk, mid-20th-century connoisseur and founder of Kirk Originals, takes to the boards: “The general rules of buying antiques apply to sideboards — if it can attributed to a named designer then it will hold its value and should rise as it becomes harder to source the better examples. The big names, Vodder, Wegner, Kristiansen, will always be collectable, and won’t come cheap. Look for lesser-known designs by Gunni Omann, Kai Winding, Hundevad, Klein and Mogensen, and search for some of the Norwegian designers from the period like Kayser and Afdal.
“Original 1950s Ikea designs are becoming highly sought after (they employed some of the top designers of the period) and are certainly rising in value internationally. Some UK manufacturers, like McIntosh, brought in Danish designers to capitalise on the trend for the Scandinavian aesthetic, but it is definitely worth seeking out designs by lesser-known designers and smaller manufacturers such as Robert Heritage, Gordon Russell and Archie Shine. Irish designs include Brendan Dunne — we sourced one recently for the National Museum of Ireland.”
If you think you’ve seen the sideboards of Arne Vodder (1926-2009) before –- you have. The furnishings of this brilliant Dane have informed legions of cabinet-maker “flatter” pieces, and mass-produced high street storage style. Regarded as part of the second wave of Danish design he was close professionally and personally to the great Finn Juhl (1912-1989) graduating from the Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1947. Vodder was determined on the same level of craftsmanship as Juhl and his contemporaries in the vanguard of Scandi-modern. He produced pieces for France and Son, Fritz Hansen, and Sibast Møbelfabrik and his sideboards in teak and rosewood with their integrated handles and sleek outline have a strong following.
US President Jimmy Carter purchased some Vodder for the White House when he took office in 1977. Look out for credenza and sideboards by Vodder with a marked asymmetry to the sections and a pleased, handle-free stack to the drawers. His most desirable sideboards have reversible doors with rosewood to one side and coloured lacquer face to the other. Many of his storage pieces were made for Sibast and will carry their trade medallion. Prices from €5,000 at auction.
A name that often slips notice, another Danish designer, Kai Kristiansen (b 1929) trained under architect Kaare Klint (the grand-daddy of modern Danish furniture design). Kristiansen’s work from 1955 on is just that little bit different, but in calming forms in mouthwatering rosewood and airy maple veneers, pricing I would suggest, is just on the turn.
Look out for his simply drawn storage furniture from as little as €500 for a nicely sized high-board (not as long as a typical side-board). Look for identifying labels, stamps or badges with this and any vintage furniture — this determines maker, something a dealer will otherwise have to nail down through stylistic clues and put their name to.
View this post on Instagram
Lovely Nathan sideboard #midcenturymodern #midcentury #midcenturymodernfurniture #danish #danishdesign #danishfurniture #vintage #retro #teak #decor #fashion #sideboard #cedenza #buffet #decor #fashion #antique #1970s #70s #design #british #furniture #ontrend #nathan #nathanfurniture #nathansideboard #nathancircles
G-plan, made in England, put out a popular Librenza style of sideboard that was closely copied by other makers, including Nathan. This company founded in 1916 (and still going) are a bit of a quiz as they had two distinct stylings in the ’50s and ’60s. One is a lumpy “Jacobean” framed furniture (think Dutch 1980s), and the other is taken from typical 1960s Danish storage and dining furniture. When the two collections collided in the 1970s — well, the sideboards and credenzas became awkward hybrids.
However, there are some excellent, affordable Nathan sideboards that have narrowly escaped a coat of Noughties chalk paint. Today, the company carry the S-range of John and Sylvia Reid, with their signature L-shaped handles and V-shaped, brushed nickel legs.
In vintage Nathan search for sideboards with that extra touch of mink — tola wood veneer, ebonising, and boards with clever interior inclusions which can often be picked up for under €600. Their Highboard Drinks Cabinet has a second storey and a superb small footprint for a squeak of space. Our top pick from Nathan is the Circles Sideboard in teak with its wonderful, classically inspired teak marquetry and dropdown drinks cupboard. Starting in the area of €1500, price depends on condition— expect a few dings to the vulnerable front edge of the cabinet.
A proudly Scottish maker of quality cabinetry, McIntosh was founded in 1859 by Alexander Henry (AH) McIntosh in the Fife region. In the 1960s, it threw its workforce bravely into the post-war modernist movement in furniture, producing some really handsome pieces that have stood the test of time.
View this post on Instagram
SOLD Gorgeous afternoon glow on the AH McIntosh sideboard. Another glorious Autumn day in Perth 🍂🍃🌾🍁☀️#myaree #concreteswan #mcintoshdunvegan #mcintoshfurniture #mcintoshsideboard #midcenturysideboard #midcenturyfurniture #autumn #perthlife #perthpop #perthstyle #perthisok #perthcollective #vintageshopperth #retroshopperth #fatlava #westgermanceramics
Affordable and still widely available, not every McIntosh board is a handsome winner, but some of the work of chief designer Tom Robertson (active 1948 – 1983) in pared-back, longer sideboards with a fully fitted interior is an elegant addition as dining room storage. Their teak veneers are especially good, and my choice would be the Dunvegan sideboard with its instantly recognisable integrated handles.
Avoid overly bright, full-on orange “restored” McIntosh teak with heavy UV damage, and put any restoration into highly sympathetic, skilled hands — no experimental, first go French polishes, please.
Geoff adds, “Buy a piece that inspires you and “grounds” your living space — long and low, with hidden handles, tambour doors, it will be an investment in your home and become a valued member of the family.”