From key collections to unusual finds from around the world, columnist Wayne Hemingway chats to Homemaker about his love for vintage.
We’ve bought some really interesting pieces of mid-century furniture that we’ll never part with – items that still look cool 60 years after they were made, so we know they will still look great in another 60 years’ time. That’s how we think. We don’t do flashy and we don’t like to own things that date. We love sustainability and we love timelessness. We also pride ourselves on thrift.
Our sofas are one of our favourite upcycled pieces. They were, in fact, originally our old 1940s wooden boat, which was shipwrecked by a friend! The boat so big and beautiful that we decided to chop it down the middle and to make two sofas from it. They will be our settees for the rest of our lives and will certainly be passed through generations.
About ten years ago, we built a summer house. Our house is very minimal, but we’ve put lots of our collections, such as vintage jukeboxes, in this outdoors space. We’ve got a whole series of vintage treasures in the summer house, such as our mid-winter, mid-century crockery. My favourite one is a collection that, funnily enough, is called ‘Homemaker’. We’ve got thousands of pieces and collections from this era which we picked up while we were running our Red or Dead stall at Camden. Most of it now is in the Land of Lost Content, a museum we co-own, in Shropshire. We’ve also got some brilliant harp chairs crafted by a Danish designer called Arne Jacobsen. We picked them up when they were worthless, about twenty five years ago. They’re made of string, almost like an instrument, and two of our most treasured chairs.
One of our favourite pieces of furniture covers a whole wall – it’s unbelievable! It’s a hand-carved sculptural cabinet that comes apart and contains a bar, plus four built-in speakers and a quadraphonic stereo system. It lights up and has all sorts of crazy elements to it. We found it in a second hand shop in Melbourne about twenty years ago. As the shop was closed for Christmas, we got the number and called the guy as soon as we were back in England. He told us he had had it for ages. It was made by a reasonably well-known local artist that had passed on. He had carved the item to depict Australia and The Outback. We bought it, the shop owner took it to pieces, and we had it shipped to the UK. Everyone that visits us is in awe of it, it’s definitely our best vintage find!
Quite often we’ll give things away as we don’t like to have clutter in our house, but we do love key vintage finds such as a sculptural piece that looks like a piece of art – I call it the ‘orgasmatron’! I found it in Brighton North Lanes and it’s a weird electrical contraption. We had no idea what it was, but we positioned it next to my record collection. Strangely, I was flicking through the newspaper one weekend and the very same object was in there! It was featured in an article about a man who was rebuilding a record making factory – and he was holding the exact same piece I had bought!
Find out more about Wayne Hemingway at houseofhemingway.co.uk