Some years ago there was a designer furniture shop in London I loved to visit. It was owned by a very famous International Furniture Company selling the original designs from two of the greatest modern furniture designers of all time.
Le Corbusier and Charles Eames.
In addition to the works of Le Corbusier and Charles Eames, I saw the works of furniture art from Ludwig van der Rohe, Florence Knoll, and Eero Aarnio at this London store.
Rohe, Knoll, and Aarnio
The Barcelona Chair and Barcelona Daybed from Rohe, The Knoll Geometric styled sofa and the Ball Chair from Aarnio, were unforgettable wonders of spectacular beauty and great design.
Reality Check....‘It’s how much?’
Last week after an absence of many years, and as I am now in a position to buy one or two designer furniture pieces, I returned to London and I ventured into this shop again.
It is now a high-end Designer Furniture boutique style shop selling the same great designer named furniture that I loved and longed for as a young man.
I made my way to the Le Corbusier stand, and I was shocked at the £10,000 price tag for the LC2 Sofa.
Slightly bucked at the price the salesperson must have been reading my mind.....Pretentious, overpriced and uncomfortable..... and advised me ''Most people say they buy from our shops because of the quality of the produce and reassurance about its provenance''.
My disappointment evaporated my boyhood memories.
I do wonder how many of us are being taken for a ride by their pricing proliferation. The designer furniture from Eames, Le Corbusier, and a number of equally notable designers from these oh-so-fashionable stores are shocking and totally beyond the budget of an average household.
Le Corbusier and his fellow designers created furniture for the masses, not only for the incredibly wealthy.
What was once a great design has it now got out of hand?
I started to recover from the price shock and once again enjoyed the absolute iconic design style, but something was wrong.The Le Corbusier LC2 is very small and uncomfortable.
Something was very wrong. The LC2 sofa is small and uncomfortable.
My boyhood dreams were completely shattered now. Obviously returning to the store as a man I am bigger and these sofas were not made for the 21st Century Man.
Designed almost 100 years ago the small LC2 has loose cushions placed on a steel frame supported with elasticated straps.
My average bulk was forced to sit across 2 cushion seats.
The LC2 3-seat sofa only accommodates 2 people, and the result is I found myself sitting across 2 cushions. The edge of the cushion starting disappearing between the gaps and then straight through the supporting straps.
To my embarrassment, I needed help to rise from the seat to get back to my feet.
I made a hasty departure.
My faith in great Designer Furniture is restored.
Discussing my disappointments and embarrassments with a colleague I was advised to look for an alternative Designer Furniture Store online.
As a result of my online search, I found a number of designer furniture stores.
Retroeurope.com offered a Reinvented, Affordable, Great Design brand of designer sofas and designer chairs, and it soon became clear they were experiencing a boom in sales due to their pricing policy.
Cutting out the middleman and avoiding those iniquitous prices.
Retro Europe could afford to offer quality designer furniture at affordable prices by selling direct to the consumer online. They were cutting out the middleman and avoiding those iniquitous prices that the London Store imposed on their clients.
It was a win-win situation for buyer and seller.
And though they were not originals the design was crisp and stunning as any I’ve ever seen.
This was an online modern designer furniture shop in its purest form, completely unpretentious, affordable and with extremely comfortable furniture manufactured using the traditional furniture makers methods.
There is no doubting the popularity of designer furniture online stores. According to the latest figures, eight out of ten of us have purchased online in the past 12 months, with nearly all are intending to continue buying online in the future.
Have online designer furniture shops like Retro Europe replaced the Bricks And Mortar High Shops?
High Street Stores are closing and it is very sad.
Only the established and big corporations may survive. Online stores offer you the opportunity to view and buy from the comfort of your home and at much lower prices.
I don’t want to be too hard on high-profile shops like the store I visited in London selling the original furniture from Le Corbusier and Eames because it was their influence that introduced me to Modernist, Mid Century and Contemporary Designer Furniture which in some ways has been a wonderful experience.
The London Store is actually helping to encourage the boom in Online Designer Furniture Stores.
The terrible prices they charge are encouraging the move for discerning clients to go to retro furniture online stores.
We no longer have to pay so much, but it is not only the price but the pretentiousness that forces us to online stores. I liken my visit to this London Store to being fleeced at the races, and in future, I will be advising designer furniture buyers to head for Retro Europe instead.
Only other day I accidentally found myself in one of these new up and coming hipster cafe bars and asked about the identity of the disgusting bar stools.
''You are sitting on an art deco designer style stool, that costs £300'' was the reply.
Obviously, we should celebrate the success of Retro Europe the home of designer furniture in Europe.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many online retro furniture stores, but I have a personal experience with Retro Europe.
For the past year, I have lived back in London, and I have purchased every piece of furniture from Retro Europe required to re-furnish every room of my new apartment.
I wanted to escape all that metropolitan trendiness and go back to the simpler modernist and minimalism quality furniture world, where the design and function are important.
I want to look at my furniture and love the design.
I want to use my furniture and enjoy and appreciate the comfort of the furniture.
My first purchase was a full-size Bauhaus Sofa from Retro Europe for 999.00, very much in Corbusier-esque design period, but one-tenth of the London Store price, and much bigger and extremely comfortable.
Conclusion; When your instincts are screaming 'Pretentious, overpriced and uncomfortable' run.
I suspect most of you know I’m right.
A great many of these London Designer Furniture Stores are now the most massive rip-off.
We’d all be better off at Retro Europe.