Vintage or Just Smelly?

Remember in philosophy class when you heard that syllogism that goes something like: All men are mortal; Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal…Well, like so many random thoughts that occur to me as I do the inane bits of adult life–sit in traffic, wait in line, etc. This got me thinking.

People who have even the slightest interest in anything remotely related to ‘design’ have heard the word ‘vintage’ tossed about like birdseed at a wedding. But, to what does that ubiquitous term actually refer? In my opinion, people who describe something under 20 years old as vintage are often interchanging “vintage” with “old.” Sure, vintage may be synonymous with old, but “old” does not vintage make. Meanwhile, it’s correct to say vintage is synonymous with old, or age, as in in the case of wine. “Vintage” denotes old, at least 20 years, but it also connotes a still-relevant coolness. Simply calling an item “old” with no other context can just as easily refer to a vaguely smelly, possibly worm-eaten, plague-carrying provenance. Maybe not, but it could. I like vintage, and (as I age) old, in the best of senses of the words.

So, what exactly qualifies an item as vintage in the good sense then? For me, a cool vintage item has to have several things going for it:

  1. Good, clean, never-go-totally-out-of-style lines.
  2. Or, enough specific embellishment to make it stand out as a period piece.
  3. Above all else, cool vintage pieces hold a timelessness, a nostalgia, a spirit of the age, if you will, with which you identify on some level, historically or aesthetically.

What doesn’t qualify as vintage?

  1. Anything that looked bad the first time around, not bad like, I don’t like that, but B-A-D in the universal, bad then, bad now, bad forever, sense.
  2. Anything that will not acquire charm or patina (which is the fancy person’s way to say ‘filth.’ Kidding. I kid.)
  3. Anything emitting a smell that suggests someone may have died there. Do I really need to explain this further?

Stuff that is old but which was good enough to enter our aesthetic vernacular the first time around probably will enjoy a vintage revival at some point. That’s the stuff you should hang on to or add to your inner watch list as you scour eBay.

Shannon Signature

Sources: 1 / / 2

Modern and retro, this mid-century inspired dining room design is timeless and will never go out of style. Sleek Scandinavian furniture, a sputnik pendant light, and classic place settings give a tailored yet playful feel to the room. The warm wood tones, mid-century furniture shapes, and bright orange ‘pops’ of color create a dining space to fall madly in love with!


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