'When you buy vintage, you are purchasing more than just a piece of furniture – you're buying the history and narrative of an object,' enthuses Lionel Obadia, founder of Design Market. It was this passion for pre-loved pieces that drove him to establish his online, luxury design salesroom in 2014.
'One day I found myself looking for an Eames chair from the 1960s online,' Obadia explains. 'I spent hours and hours on eBay and other listings websites and each time I was never sure whether the pieces were authentic, or whether the vendor could be trusted. I thought, "Wouldn’t it be great to have a website that gathers all these specialist dealers in one place, where I could purchase these rare pieces in a fully secure environment?".'
And so Design Market was born. The site features over 8,000 pieces of vintage furniture from 300 worldwide dealers, presenting a novel way of reliably buying luxury, iconic design. This week marks their official international launch.
Specialising in all things midcentury modern, the website provides an unprecedented range, searchable by colour, room or style. What's more, middle-man gallery fees are cut, while exacting levels of authentication assurances remain. A team of expert moderators diligently assess and monitor the condition and provenance of each piece – as well as having the final say on the correct price.
The concept is air-tight. And no wonder – it was created by leading French business minds. In another life, Obadia was an SEO specialist and engineer. For this new venture, he was joined by fellow design devotee and sales director David Mimouni.
As well as kooky, unnamed objects of interest, the website has pieces by Charles Eames, Arne Jacobsen and Charlotte Perriand on its books – and flicking through the listings feels like you're skipping between a second-hand treasure trove and design museum. Either way, the list feels hand-picked and curated. 'We believe that the purchase of rare (and sometimes expensive) pieces is not compatible with generic listings websites like eBay,' Obadia adds. 'These sites do not offer the necessary level of security. We believe that you need specialised services such as white glove shipping and expert authentication for this level of purchase.' In typically enthusiastic fashion, Obadia concludes, 'we prefer to focus on one, niche market – and be the best at it'.