Jorge Perez-Martin - Brownrigg Decorative Interiors and Antiques
Jorge, your shop is stunning! Everything is immaculate and so well presented. In fact, it would be easy to forget you’re selling antiques at all. Has your eye always been drawn to elegant, beautifully finished pieces?
Thank you! I am extremely passionate about how we present the stock in the shop, on the website and through social media. The shop is a vital part of bringing to life the taste that clients get on line. I drive David and the team mad at times in the endless quest for the perfect look and shot. My eye has always been drawn to beautiful pieces, but it is as much about craftsmanship and quality and finding things that are different, to create a really interesting look and aesthetic. I am constantly amazed at how my taste and eye has evolved over the 20 years that I have been dealing. We live in the country near Laurie Lee’s birthplace and David likens our journey in this world of antiques and decorative pieces to ‘I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ in which an innocent walk opens up a series of new worlds that will entice and inspire a lifetime.
When did you start selling antiques?
Within a year of arriving in England aged 22, I started to buy small pieces in Brighton and around Sussex. This led to taking space in an antiques centre as a weekend hobby. By this time, I was hooked, as the whole buying and selling antiques experience in the UK is so different to Spain.
Do you still go over to Spain on buying trips or do you find most of your pieces here?
We are still buying from a wide variety of sources and countries. Sadly, we’re not able to travel as much as we would like due to the time commitment to the shop and website; but we are always managing to find good and unusual pieces. If this ever becomes difficult, we’ll travel further afield.
How has the market changed since you started? Is there a difference in the way you deal now?
Like most markets; tastes, buyers and budgets are always changing and evolving. Having said this, the basics are still very much the same because the main driver remains a constant, in terms of people striving to create interiors and lifestyles that inspire and motivate. One of the biggest and most pleasurable changes we have witnessed in the last 10 plus years has been an increased willingness to ‘mix things up’ to create looks that can be so much more individual.
You’re great at taking an average piece of furniture and turning it into something incredible. Do you have a clear idea of how you’d like to restore or bring something back to life when you buy it, or do you buy what catches your eye and work out what to do with it afterwards?
To be honest it’s a mix of both. To me a traditional antique won’t ever be just average, it’s about seeing the potential, not just through restoration but also through placing the item in a setting where it can come to life and sing.
I find it fascinating how pieces move within the trade, and how some dealers are able to spot or add value to something, that others perhaps miss. Would you say antiques are only worth what someone is willing to pay? Do you base your prices on gut instinct or in comparison to similar examples on the market?
This is always a difficult question to answer. I always say to someone that within reason, a piece is always worth it, if it ticks all the right boxes for you personally. We don’t have a particular formula on pricing as it depends on all the variables; in particular, how well we bought it and how much we’ve had to spend on restoration, transport etc. This means that we might have an amazing piece that we bought well and can make a healthy profit, and another where we paid too much as we felt we had to have it, but paid the price knowing that it might take a while to sell on and the margin would be a challenge.
Whenever I see a picture of you, you always seem to be out enjoying yourself, often with a drink in your hand, but always with a huge infectious smile on your face! Are you living the dream?
Like many, I am only posting the highlights on Instagram! Clearly, I need to tone it down, as it’s supposed to be about the latest finds that we can’t wait to share. As for travelling and living the dream, I have to give credit to my partner David, as I’d probably spend my whole life in the warehouse and shop taking pictures and arranging rooms!
Tell me about the new world you feel the antiques business has opened for you, and where would you be now had you not “Walked out one midsummer morning”?
This is easy, as starting the business just opened my mind and approach to work in a way that no other job ever had. I just couldn’t and still can’t believe that ‘work’ can bring so much pleasure on a daily basis. Had I not ‘Walked out...” I fear my life would be a significantly less fulfilled existence. David and I are indeed very lucky, as more recently it has begun to open new opportunities for David after many years in a corporate space that was so very different, not necessarily better or worse but certainly very different.