Superfoods. Chic. All-Natural. Anti-aging. We live in a buzzword society. Placing a trendy term in front of a product can immediately grab our attention, define a brand, and (most importantly) make a sale. And while buzzwords can be great for marketers, they can sometimes be misleading and disappointing for consumers (like when you first learn that “cage-free eggs” doesn’t necessarily mean the chickens have outdoor access).
As with every industry, buzzwords are plentiful in the interior design world. Today, we’re covering two common and very important culprits: “antique” and “vintage.” You’ll find these two words everywhere in the world of interiors (including our own site), but so frequently these terms are misused or used interchangeably, and it may lead you to make an ill-informed decision or purchase. But the Kuotes has your back. Read on to learn about the industry standard for these terms and what you can expect when you see them on our site.
We’re seeing this word everywhere! And that’s a problem because not many products (especially online) are actually antique. Search antique on Google and a 1980s brick-style cell phone shows up next to an 1825 giltwood Baroque-style chandelier. So what is truly an antique? The agreed definition, both legally according to U.S. Customs compliance and among antiquing enthusiasts, is, “an object of more than 100 years old valued for its aesthetic or historical significance.” It is also communally agreed that an antique item must retain its original character with only the minimal restoration when absolutely necessary. For the more lenient individual, an antique is also sometimes used to describe pieces that have seen over two generations (about 80 years). Either way, that VHS player you still have for some reason is not an antique. Antiques are not just old. They tell a story, they have a personality, and they have a place in the world.
“An antique is defined as an object of more than 100 years old valued for its aesthetic or historical significance.”
When you shop our Antique Shop at Kathy Kuo Home, you are guaranteed to find antiques defined as above. In fact, most pieces are the only one available of its kind and originate from the late 18th century with their original patinas. When shopping online, be very wary of items that claim to be “antique” when they are merely reproduction pieces. While reproductions can be beautiful and the right fit for you, they should not be marked at such an elevated price point.
Unlike the word “antique,” the word “vintage” does not have a very strict definition or any ties to trade legalities. Because vintage has several different accepted meanings, it can sometimes be confusing to understand what you’re looking at and about to purchase. At KKH, we define vintage as any item constructed in a fashion that was popular in another era. This can be misleading when you’re shopping for a piece because some people attach an age to vintage pieces. If you’re one of these people, you’re not at all wrong. The term “vintage” was originally derived from the dating of a bottle of wine, marking the date the grapes were grown. This gave some added information about the value of the wine—if the vintage year was a good grape season, it indicated high quality and the wine was priced higher.
“We define vintage as any item constructed in a fashion that was popular in another era.”
In the world of interiors, this usage is just no longer commonplace or industry standard. If we do carry an item crafted in a specific year, the year will be available in the product details, such as our French Vintage Gold Ivory Canvas Armchairs. For the majority of our vintage items, however, the label is a way to convey the level of craftsmanship that goes into producing the product. Our vintage products are constructed and made to look as if they come from a particular time and place.
Hunting for antique treasures and vintage collectibles is a fun pastime shared by many, but you have to be wary of murky definitions. When you go antiquing, arm yourself with this Kuotes knowledge to question every piece before buying, and stay away from any antique dealer who is not open and honest about how they define the word “antique” or “vintage.” And make sure to check out our Antique Shop for some of the most gorgeous, one-of-a-kind pieces (there’s really just one of each, so buy before they’re gone!).
What are your opinions on antique versus vintage? Let us know in the comment section below.