The traditional antiques trade has enjoyed little if any contact with a younger generation of style conscious teenagers. I should know, as my 15 year old daughter and as her older sibling brothers when they were her age, show not desire to have these objects interfere with their Blackberry, iPod, or video game. We have a real problem here.
Kids today are bombarded with the media and advertisers for their attention. Teens and young people in general have been the focus of the movie, fashion, and technology industries. Art and especially antiques is a complete sideline in their life. What they are taught in art classes is more about making something than understanding its history and development. An appreciation of how art and antiques have evolved is like studying history and the advances in mankind. But in today’s world what is sexy, edgy, and must have with antiques?
Teens, young and old people alike are drawn to those qualities. The irony is it doesn’t have to be the newest, fastest, and cheapest, but have qualities that separate you from the crowd and make you look smart in every sense of the word. Your image and sense of style have become the buzz words defining a “Gossip Girl”. So why can’t that generation covet antiques?
At this point I really don’t care if they see only Mid-20th Century or modern items that they their parents now live with. An appreciation of design and function is the key. Whether from Pottery Barn or an antique shop, a connection to an object is made by its presentation and perception to the buyer. What does the object say about me! Young people are far more socially conscious today and their image on Facebook, MySpace, and media forms in general is elevated. Why not antiques for individuality, style, taste, and intelligence?
The future of the antiques industry lies with attracting a new, youthful image. Antiques buyers of the past are basically at or approaching their Social Security age and that is a real sobering prospect. I like the thought that every generation revolts against what their parents bought. My grandparents liked antiques, today’s generation lives with Mid-Century Modern. Hopefully tomorrow’s generation will react by going back to antiques.