The Vault is by Sydney-based couple interior architect Phoebe Nicol and antiques specialist Jeremy Bowker. The new platform is here to refresh how we think about antiques. We might typically associate antiques with heavy wooden buffets in ornate mahogany or walnut, or the rows of pricey antique stores along the Great Western Highway en route to the Blue Mountains. But Nicol and Bowker have a more refined, affordable take.
Nicol and Bowker were peeved by the abundance of disposable furniture in Australia and are motivated by the lack of interesting, well-made pieces available at affordable prices. “We want to be the new generation of antique dealers,” says Nicol. “I’ve worked in the antique industry for about 10 years, and I have a real passion for unique design and one-off pieces.”
Available on the site right now is a scalloped mid-century sofa Nicol has reupholstered in burnt-orange velvet. It’s “probably not for everyone” she admits, but it’s still a storied, “special piece that you will have forever”.
Items are sourced locally and overseas, each handpicked by Nicol and Bowker based on their singularity and condition. The site is divided into art, sculpture and decoratives, and then various furniture items such as desks and seating. Nicol has “the eye”, and Bowker developed his ability to recognise superior quality during his time working with Sydney’s renowned antiques dealer, Martyn Cook.
While there’s a natural prevalence of of-the-moment mid-century and Art Deco pieces, Nicol says, “We don’t have a specific style in mind. I like to mix various styles; I’ll match a French giltwood mirror with a mid-century sofa. It’s about not furnishing your whole home with antiques – my aesthetic is about mixing modern with something old to give it more character and depth.”