Chantal Fortune understanding the true value of older items, says Aileen Lee.
What’s your background?
I studied antiques and fine arts in Dublin with the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV). That course is amazing. It really trains your eye to appreciate the great Irish country houses.
I’m an Antiques Young Guns’ member —– it is a grassroots organisation set up to support young professionals within the wider antiques industry.
I am it’s first Irish member. I am also a member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Dublin.
Last September, I enrolled in an interiors course with the Interior Design Academy of Ireland.
My focus in interiors would be on what I would call Romantic Interiors, that is, old furniture and paintings, and that old-world charm.
I had a little shop in Bray two years ago. I do have a plan for a new venture, but it’s very slowly coming about.
I learned so much from having a shop that I know what I need to focus on for the next shop. In the meantime, I sell small items online.
What’s a typical work day like for you?
My typical day begins with the school run, then it’s rushing around attending to emails or viewing auctions, and in and out of town —I have a job in town working on an old house. Once I pick my two boys up from school, I am very much back to being a mum.
Tell us about a recent or a favourite design or project that you have worked on?
I am part of a small team of people creating a catalogue for Arklow Pottery, which was open from 1934 to 1998. We are compiling the dates of the different potters and the stamps on the back of the pottery.
I collect Arklow Pottery and am involved with the Arklow Pottery and Art Festival being launched Saturday/Sunday, June 24/25.
I am also involved in another project — curating dealers and promoting the up-and-coming Antiques and Vintage Fair in Wells House and Gardens in County Wexford. It takes place on September 16 and 17.
The fair is also about furniture and painting restoration. There will be three rooms of dealers selling their wares, and then in the great hall, demonstrations will take place throughout the day.
I will also do free valuations (Antiques Roadshow-style). It’ll be a real family day out, with the café, gardens, the farmyard and a big playground.
What’s your design style?
I am not minimalist. In my own home, in every corner you look, there is something beautiful to look at — I have plates on the walls and lots of pictures and prints.
Who inspires your work?
Elsie de Wolfe — she was a New York interior decorator in the 1910s and 1920s. She used a lot of chintz, floral wallpaper and coverings and striped furnishings.
What’s your favourite trend at the moment?
Mix-match china — I think it’s fun to have beautiful cups and saucers all mix-matched. They look lovely on the table together.
What’s your most treasured possession?
That would be an ancient Roman ring that’s probably 2,000 years old. It has been in the family for years. It’s a very beautiful ring and very comfortable to wear. It’s made of bronze but I wear it beside other gold rings and it has taken on the form of gold.
Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?
Current favourite designers would be John Derian who is based in New York, Ben Pentreath in London and House of Hackney, also in London, who have very cleverly gotten access to all the old William Morris wallpapers.
What would be a dream project/design for you to work on?
I would like to open my own museum. I have an amazing collection of antique Irish lace, so it would be a lace museum but filled with old-world treasures. I have an interest in identifying and promoting old Irish lace.
Have you any design tips for us?
Stop buying so much flat-pack. The furniture I see at auctions is built to last — it’s well-made, good quality dark furniture and it’s only going to increase in value. If it’s lasted 100 years already, it’s going to last another 100.
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