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Collecting in Real Life

Decorators versus Collectors
Arts&Crafts vases collectibles

A vignette composed of British and American Arts & Crafts objects ca. 1880–1920 includes Morris wallpaper, wicker, and a Tiffany pinecone-pattern desk set. Photo: Keith Scott Morton

If house addicts can be divided into Architecture People vs. Stuff People, which is to say Renovators vs. Antiquers, or even more narrowly Decorators vs. Collectors, then I am always in the former group. I’m stirred more by a porch makeover than by the search for a tabouret “with original finish.” Experiencing a room as a whole, I’ll likely miss the priceless items in a collection.

Others have remarked on this schism. “Decorators tend to see objects in the context of a room, while the eyes of a collector always fall on a single object,” wrote memoirist Thatcher Freund in an essay about the decorator Mario Buatta. “Encountering a tasteless room full of beautiful objects—no less than encountering the tasteful room full of ordinary things—helps one appreciate people who care about both,” he says.

Most collectors are drawn to the stories that objects tell, about their makers or about the past.

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Patricia Poore,Editor
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