From Numbers to Aesthetics | The Unexpected Journey of Mr. Bigglesworthy

From Numbers to Aesthetics | The Unexpected Journey of Mr. Bigglesworthy

Discover the unexpected journey of Dan aka Mr Bigglesworthy, a chartered accountant turned design connoisseur, whose love affair with modern design began with a simple fascination for the value of vintage pieces.

 

25 April 2024

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Co-founding Mr. Bigglesworthy with his wife, Emma, in 2010, their venture has burgeoned into New Zealand's premier destination for modern design enthusiasts. Explore the evolution from numbers to aesthetics, the shifting design landscape post-pandemic, and the timeless appeal of iconic pieces that continue to enchant collectors globally in this Q&A.  

 

Tell us about yourself and Mr. Bigglesworthy 

 
Not many people realise I am a chartered accountant which is probably for the best when I am giving them design advice! 
 
I began my journey towards Design around 2005, purchasing items I liked for my flat and selling them by auction if my taste changed. On occasion a piece would do surprisingly well, but I would have no idea why and over time I became fascinated with the mystery of what made something valuable and a similar item worthless. 
 
In 2010 my wife Emma and I started Mr. Bigglesworthy and it has become one of the most successful Modern Design stores in New Zealand. People often ask about the name; I came up with it after watching the movie Austin Powers and seeing Dr Evil’s cat. 
 
In the early days people would often use the term ‘retro’ to describe anything that was not antique or Art Deco. Our goal was to elevate vintage design in a contemporary way, inspired by what we were seeing in art, architecture, and fashion

Mr Bigglesworthy

Dan aka Mr Bigglesworthy, a chartered accountant turned design connoisseur

How did you become obsessed with Modern Design? 
 
Shortly after the 2008 financial crisis I was made redundant and Emma and I decided to make a trip to the UK, Europe, and Scandinavia. This had a profound impact on me as we visited many historic and modern museums and galleries. The Pompidou Centre in Paris is amazing and I really felt a connection to the pioneering spirit of the Bauhaus whilst in Dessau. 
 
In Italy there were several small gallery-style stores that specialised in Modern Design; they were different to anything I had seen in New Zealand. The interiors were playful and inspiring, with objects displayed in a contemporary way that contrasted with, yet complemented, the historic setting. 

 

How has the market changed in the last four years since the pandemic? 
 
The pandemic changed the market quite dramaticallyOn the positive side plenty of people who may not have previously thought about their interiors became quite engaged with their home and focused on creating more sophisticated, beautiful spaces to live in. 
 
The downside is that a lot of demand was pulled forward, so now we are seeing a slowdown after all the heat in the market. There are less buyers, and they only want the best of what is on offer. We now need to be hyper focused on having incredible stock as anything less will be difficult to sell.

 

Do you see new trends in collecting appearing? 
 
The interest in high comfort and more casual living has evolved and we are seeing an embrace of 1970s forms and icons. Designs like the Togo Sofa from Ligne Roset, the Camaleonda Sofa from B&B Italia, or the DS600 Non-Stop Sofa from by De Sede have become very coveted. 
 
People are also gravitating towards unique statement pieces and exotic forms of modernism. We have seen a rise in demand for Brazilian design, along with a desire for the bold and often quirky Memphis and post-modern designs from the 1980s and 90s. 
 
While there is constant change it is interesting to note that classic Danish modern pieces have remained very popular. They are beautifully crafted, functional and can easily be mixed with other more bold and playful expressions of modern design. 

 

You have been buying over the years from us, is it easy to send freight to NZ? 
 
Anyone looking at a Sworders catalogue will wish they lived next door, but the good news is that international shipping has become easier. There are several freight services tailored to smaller one-off buyers. The key is having the item packaged properly, ideally in a crate.

 

How do you regard the Design sales at Sworders? 
 
When we first started Mr. Bigglesworthy, we needed key pieces that would show how serious we were about modern design. It was a ‘wow’ moment when I discovered Sworders’ Design auctions; that was some time ago and today we buy from leading sources all around the world, but I frequently return to Sworders for unique, premium pieces. 

 

Could you pick your favourite pieces from our forthcoming sale and explain what makes these items so attractive to you? 
 
This is tough as I do not want to create competition for myself at the auction(!) so I will keep it to three. 
 

Lot 81 - A bentwood 'Long Chair' recliner


Lot 81 - A bentwood 'Long Chair' recliner 
 
A Marcel Breuer masterpiece with a British connection. These are groundbreaking early works from an internationally celebrated architect and industrial designer. Emma and I visited the Breuer Building built for the Whitney Museum in New York a few years ago. It is an incredible brutalist structure with a refined yet almost oppressive form and it is amazing to think the same person designed the ribbon like curves of this recliner. 

 

Lot 126 - An Archie Shine Rosewood sideboard

 

Lot 126 - An Archie Shine rosewood sideboard 
 
No-one does opulent, understated British luxury like Robert Heritage. With this piece Heritage references historical details in the campaign style handles, combined with a strict linear form. This is an incredible offering featuring beautiful materiality and premium craftsmanship, a masterclass in mid-century Modern Design.

 

Lot 364 - A set of six Brazilian rosewood dining chairs

 

Lot 364 - A set of six Brazilian rosewood dining chairs 

 
These caught my eye immediately. With chairs like this it is almost a crime to have them hidden under a dining table, but fortunately they are just as fascinating from the back. The floating seat base allows the structural elements of the chair to be seen in a unique way. These are absolutely stunning.

 

Discover more about Mr Bigglesworthy at mrbigglesworthy.co.nz 

 


 

 

Tuesday 30 April | 10am

design@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778

 

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