Johan Laidlaw is an entrepreneur with a love for antiques and art. He lives in Copenhagen and is the co-founder of a new online appraisal service called Mearto.com.
What areas/items are currently selling well?
We see lots of classic Danish design furnitures when we help people consign their items. And it is easy for the auction houses to sell them. There is always a demand for old furniture in good condition, from Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner and Poul Henningsen to Arne jacobsen.
What do you think are the current ‘good investment’ items – ones to watch?
Be careful buying antiques because of investment. Buy it because you love it. But classic, good condition items, made by a respected artist/designer will probably not be the worst investment.
What antiques do you have at home?
My last purchase was an old chest I bought in east London. I carried it on the tube all the way to west London. My wife inherited an old fireplace screen and a matching firewood box that we have kept even though we don’t have a fireplace.
What do you think will be the antiques of the future?
I think unique interior items are becoming more and more popular and will probably be traded a lot in the future.
How is the industry changing and what will it look like in the future?
The industry is becoming more and more digital, which will make it easier to find specific items because you will be able to browse online in huge databases and create search notifications, so you get emailed when that specific item is for sale. But auctions, flea markets and antique dealers will still exist because the feeling of finding something unexpected and truly unique when you don’t expect is just the best.
Tell us some trade secrets – what are your top tips for buying antiques?
I spend many hours online studying prices of art and antiques. Look at realised prices from auction houses to see what items are being sold for. That’s how we started Mearto.com – I could not find a good resource to examine realised prices, so we started creating our own database.
What antiques/artworks would you buy if money were no object?
I would buy a big painting by Gustav Klimt and hang it in my living room.
A small antique necklace for my wife. I would then be broke, but with a happy wife 🙂
Where are your favourite antique hunting destinations?
I lived in Notting Hill for many years and I always enjoyed looking for antiques in that area. Especially up around Golborne Road you can find some interesting things. Now that I’m back in Denmark, I go to Bruun Rasmussen auction.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that buyers make?
They don’t spend enough time examining the item. Look for signatures, cracks, restoration and the overall condition. Those extra minutes are well spent.
Do antiques appeal to young buyers and, if not, how can the industry reach out to them?
I think it does – but it lacks some features that young people are used to from other industries. Things like better online services with user-friendly interfaces, searching for items across many sites and price transparency. I’m from the younger generation myself, and this is all something we work towards at Mearto.com.