Mon, Oct 5, 2009
By Signe Hansen | Photos: Courtesy of Danish Homestore
With customers flying in from all corners of the world to visit Danish homestore, there is no doubt that Simon Harrison’s selection of modern antique Danish furniture is quite unique. Danish Homestore was started by Simon’s father Roger Harrison who saw a hole in the British furniture market and now 27 years on, father and son have seen how the interest in Danish furniture has exploded since the first shipment.
“Ten years ago it was a different story with only a hand full of dealers. Now there are about 100 and it is a hugely competitive business,” says Simon. “Our competitive advantage is that each piece is restored to it’s original finish, something learned over the last 25 years, and from speaking to a 94 year old ‘source’ who used to manufacture these classics.”
From value for money to collector’s favourites
Simon’s father settled in Denmark in 1961, married Danish Margot, and started selling British antiques in Vejle. After helping relatives move to Ipswich he was left with their teak coffee table which he put in auction in the UK. It sold for £14, which was, explains Simon, an excellent result. On the next trip over to England for antiques the small van was loaded with coffee tables and teak chairs and in 1986 Roger opened up his first store. Today the large premises in Nottingham are the centre of operations.
“Twenty years ago it was the very basic of good style and value for money that made us a success whereas today we have become a destination shop for style conscious and savvy collectors,” says Simon.
“Today clients come in and browse through 800sq metres of Danish furniture from the every day pieces to the very rare investments. Everything is priced up, has background information and can be found on the shop website. We are doing it the good old-fashioned Danish way, where everything is accessible, and a cup of coffee is enjoyed while discussing chairs,” says Simon.
One of the best represented designers is Hans Wegner, of whose work Danish Homestore has, says Simon, “probably the best collection in the UK”. The collection contains everything from iconic wishbone chairs/Y-stol to dining tables, Sofas, cabinets and a very rare lounge chair in oak. Prices on Wegner furniture range from £250 pounds to several thousand pounds for rarer classics.
The furniture from Danish Homestore ends up in homes, not only all over the UK, but abroad as well with the USA, Japan and even Denmark among some of its destinations. But customers are, says Simon, not just collectors and investors but ordinary people too. “What we are dealing with is often the 30 plus homeowners who want something that is uniquely theirs. They are people who seek out something which tells a story and has character.”
Among more specific buyers are film directors looking for the right background setting for a scene, collectors looking for specific investment pieces and companies wanting to have iconic pieces of Danish furniture (Keyhaven Capital Partners).
Investing in the furniture
Back in 1994 one of Simon’s customers bought a Bodil Kjær desk famous as Dr No’s desk in James Bond movies From Russia With Love and Diamonds Are For Ever. The buyer paid £600 for it and enjoyed it for 17 years before selling it on for £12,500!
“You can buy the furniture and enjoy it for maybe 20 years and then when you are ready for a change, you can sell it on and trade up to something even better. A lot of the pieces that we deal with have increased in price over the last 5 years as demand increases,” says Simon. “As Danish furniture is becoming ever more sought after worldwide, now is an excellent opportunity to snap up that Hans Wegner sofa or Hans Olsen bikini chair before they become the subject of museum collections and the vastly rich.”
Turning back time
Simon’s own interest is in the original furniture, and like his father he does the renovations himself. “Sometimes I find a piece that looks like it has been completely destroyed, but I know that I can work that process backwards and bring it back to it’s best,” he says adding: “For me the best thing is to deliver a piece to a client knowing they appreciate my hard work and will cherish the furniture for years to come.”
For more information visit: www.danish-homestore.com