Meet 4 of the Most Sought-After Vintage Dealers on Instagram
These collectors and sellers have forgone the traditional showroom space to sell their wares over the app, directly to consumers.
After spending more time at home than ever before, renovating one’s house or apartment has become the top-of-mind project for many. Whether it’s a broader overhaul or just swapping out a few pieces of furniture, the change of scenery is also coupled with the reality that most retail showrooms are still adjusting to the changes of COVID-19, and people are on their phones more than ever. For those in need of some retail therapy, Instagram has become an outlet for newcomer design dealers and longtime vintage experts to put the platform to good use, offering their same range of product without the overhead of showroom rent or the fuss of a polished-looking warehouse. Spread across the city, here are a few of our favorites.
Newcomers to the vintage design scene, Mike Gusman and Paige Frandsen bring with them plenty of experience in the style and creative field. Gusman, a senior creative at Ogilvy, and Frandsen, a fashion stylist, have spent years collecting everything from wardrobe staples to furniture and decor for the home. The duo’s new launch, @shopmoddest, allows for more time spent around the kind of design styles they love—“bold, iconic, and minimalist,” according to the pair.
“My father has been building luxury spaces my whole life, so my exposure to design came early, and I just started researching the things I was seeing in all of those places,” says Gusman. “I work as an art director now, and a passion for interiors kind of comes with the territory. [We have] an affinity for mid-century and space-age furniture (art deco is a guilty pleasure). We really just wanted to get our hands on what we loved, and so our sourcing process began.”
After spending some time stacking their collection up into a storage locker, Gusman and Frandsen have since moved into a new studio space in Greenpoint that allows them to see their work in situ while also allowing for some better photographing and composition when building out their gallery for prospective buyers.
“Whether we like it or not, Instagram has really become a massive discovery engine for all of our lives,” says Frandsen. “Much of our own taste level and design aspirations started and have been amplified by scrolling through like-minded pages.”
In the studio, icons of the design world sit sprawled across the room, from tulip chairs, to the lounge and ottoman from Eames, to armchairs from Le Corbusier. “What we love about mid-century furniture and interiors are that they’re equal parts minimal and warm,” Gusman notes. “We like to balance out our mid-century pieces with some more eccentric accents and pops of color—glassware, ceramics, side tables, et cetera. Ultimately, we’re curating the Palm Springs estate we’ve always dreamed of.”
For Madison Santos, the collector and seller behind @doubles_tennis, the success of the account and collection comes through pure elbow grease. “I started it sometime last winter. It got more serious in January, and then it became a full-time amount of work. This is my day job and my night job,” says Santos. “As far as my background, I’m essentially a vagrant who came into this, and I’m really happy people like it. I’ve always been a collector of sorts—starting with books.”
In lieu of the showrooms and studio spaces to frame his work though, Santos’s approach to his collection comes from a far more authentic place—his own apartment. If you’ve ever been looking through the story slides on the account’s Instagram, any given piece has been a part of Santos’s own home decor for some time now. Living in a third-floor walk-up in Ridgewood, Queens, the railroad-style apartment went from being sectioned off to house some of the pieces to a studio space where he’s shot products in and lived amongst them to showcase their charm in the apartment.
“I like to live with things for a while, like being roommates. Eventually, they ask me, ‘Hey, can I move out?’ and I then find them an even better place,” he says. “I used to have everything contained to one room, but it’s taken over my apartment like The Blob. Living around all this stuff is part of the joy of it for me.”
While a few of the pieces stick around as favorites of his—an Alessi kettle, for instance—nearly 100 percent of the apartment’s furnishings will eventually be recycled into the account as new pieces for sale, from mid-century coffee tables to folk art and ceramics he’s picked up or thrifted throughout the city.
Without showing too much of his own life in the feed, Santos also takes the lack of a gallery space to showcase the natural surroundings of New York with his collection. “I like to situate things in public spaces a lot—parks, playgrounds, basketball or tennis courts—to sort of gesture that design is everywhere and that the objects of design don’t have to be revered pieces in museums and showrooms only.”
Instead of cramming into a storage or studio space with her impressive collection of ’80s and art-deco-style pieces on offer, Lisa Zhu, the founder of @lazysundayshome, chose to remain in her native Flushing, where she’s parlayed a career in fashion into the parallel world of interiors.
“I’ve always been creative, I’ve always had my painting background and enjoyed anything that involved my hands, from ceramics to woodwork,” says Zhu. “I always had a day job in fashion, and because of the pandemic I got furloughed. I thought that if this wasn’t going to work out, I needed to pursue something I loved to do, which was interior design, paired with my love of thrifting and vintage.”
And so Lazy Sundays Home escalated into the main job, offering up modernist, often chrome-plated pieces from end tables to sculptures to lighting fixtures. Zhu offers delivery access for her pieces from Flushing, but the added space still allows for a greater catalogue and inventory for the account, not to mention her familiarity with the neighborhood, having grown up here.
Leaning more to the post-modern aesthetic than the wood-latent mid-century design styles, Zhu’s built the account in the wake of the boom of fashion bloggers—which then gave rise to the fashion influencer—by working the same tactics through her own brand.
“I’ve always followed fashion bloggers, and it’s always been trending toward social media,” she notes as a means for building the brand through Instagram. “Instagram never used to be shoppable, and I think people want to connect to somebody more personally as opposed to a brand you don’t see anybody behind. I think that’s why fashion bloggers got so big. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more people promoting their homes now as opposed to just style.”
An honorable mention in the design community—and a must-follow for anyone looking to refurbish or renovate their space—is @curbalertnyc. For the team behind this account, one man’s trash is truly another’s treasure. Ever see a sofa or end table left on the curb while out walking, only to find it gone 30 minutes later? Thank this account. Where other design enthusiasts collect and resell from anyplace they find, citizens of this great city spot, post, and redirect their streetside treasures to @curbedalertnyc, who posts them to the greater community to go scoop up some impressive design pieces.
The account regularly posts to stories, and the feed with everything from mid-century-inspired armoires to sets of chairs and decor pieces scattered everywhere from front stoops to beside trash cans on the curb. It’s perfect for anyone to swoop in and snag something free of charge, keeping the city’s recycling of impressive design in check.
Top photo: Mike Gusman
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