Emma Barnett delves into the art market and world of interior design to predict what may be trending at auction in 2024.
4 January 2024
As students, we are often placed in one of two categories: 'arts' scholars with a passion for analysing poetic visual and literary devices or the scientifically minded who enjoy the facts and figures of a STEM-based subject. What may be surprising to most is that auction houses (despite being full of enthusiastic and eccentric lovers of fine art) combine these two worlds of aesthetics and numbers. In fact, auctions can be a fascinating way of reading our international finances - and 2024's auction trends will go hand-in-hand with economic forecasts. In other words, what are people buying and selling, and why?
The socio-political events witnessed between 2018 and 2023 have shifted our global economy. The wealth gap is growing; the rich are getting richer, with little projected to change next year. So where do auctions fit into this turbulent equation of global pandemics and intricate foreign policies? During these inflationary and recessionary periods, art is an opportunity for investment - a tangible asset unsusceptible to the same market fluctuations as stocks and shares. 2023 has been an exemplary year, with both Sotheby's and Christie's reporting a rise in Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) making luxury acquisitions in the form of paintings and wine rather than precious metals or furniture. This trend looks set to continue into 2024, but much like our economy and politics, the auction world never knows what is around the corner. Whether it be an iconic collection at a provincial saleroom or a record-breaking price for an Old Master, there is always the chance for a piece to send ripples around the art market.
Emma Barnett, Head of Homes & Interiors
The reality is that most of us do not have spare $80 million to spend on Gustav Klimt. So, in fear of sounding like Andrew Marr, we will turn to the realms of Abigail Ahern and look at auction trends in conjunction with interior design. Most salerooms will have flagship interior auctions, offering a curated selection of items to furnish your homes. Having trawled through interior design magazines and social media pages, I can safely say that these contemporary trends do not require contemporary, mass-produced furniture. In fact, designers will often look to auctions to source their more unique pieces.
An 'Eastside' armchair
The first recurring trend for 2024 was introducing a single statement piece into your room: sculptural furniture to start a conversation. What sprung to mind when I read this was the Memphis Group - a group of Italian architects who produced postmodern furniture and lighting designed to be bold and colourful. Their work is a staple of any good Design auction, and the eye-catching items are hard to miss when flicking through a catalogue.
A pair of oak chest of drawers
Another trend rapidly gaining momentum is the use of brown - on walls, furniture, and cushions. 'Millenial Grey' is out, and the earthy tones of neutral browns are in. This idea will excite any auctioneer; we have always hoped to share our love for antique 'brown' furniture, from the deep warmth of a mahogany chest to lighter inlaid satinwood tables.
A Victorian button back synthetic suede chesterfield sofa
As with last year, illustrated Delft-style tiles, colourful vintage fabrics and low modular sofas continued to grace the Top 10 Trends list. However, last, and perhaps most surprising was a renewed interest in Victorian details. But why settle for Victorian-inspired when you can buy the real deal? Victorian settees and chaise longue are loyal friends of auction houses and can usually be picked up for less than £200.
Regardless of what is trending, the key to buying at auction is to find an item that you fall in love with. The best investments are not monetary - they are pieces that make you smile, to be cherished long after fashions have changed.
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