Fascinated by the Odeon-style glamour of Art Deco and the 1930‘s, Paul Donaldson specialises in the decorative glassware that so captured the spirit of the decade. What particularly stands out from his sparkling collection at The Old Cinema is his impressive selection of Deco cut-glass scent atomisers and dressing table sets; often bought as gifts for the unashamedly feminine -  or indeed just by those of us seeking a little decadent adornment for our boudoir or bathroom!  Decanters, tumblers, and champagne flutes are also popular gift choices, and it is still possible to pick up a set of hand-blown Edwardian wine glasses in perfect condition, for a reasonable sum.  Some pieces are endearingly quirky and guarantee a smile; such as the ‘Dalmation’ decanter, complete with ‘pup’ shot glasses.  

Trained as a dancer at an early age, by Peggy Spencer at her eponymous dance academy in south London, Paul has had his own taste of the limelight.  He was one of those selected to perform in the Beatles film; ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, which he says was huge fun; if rather chaotic.  Urged on by his enthusiastic parents, Paul even competed in the regional heats of theTV show; 'Come Dancing' but eventually realised that dancing wouldn’t pay the bills. Paul then trained as a professional chef, before going on to enjoy a long career as cabin crew with  British Airways. He retired a few years ago and whilst his dancing days are behind him, he does still enjoy cooking.  But he spends most of his time indulging his real passion - buying and selling interesting pieces of 20th Century glass.

Paul always  enjoyed frequenting junk shops,  and he particularly remembers a quirky place in a Georgian house in Brentford in the 1980’s; piled high with furniture, glass and bric-a-brac,  which opened just two days a week.  The owner would advise Paul on what to look for, and the tricky business of buying and selling. “She’d say, ‘there’s this auction in Guildford - meet me there and I’ll show you what to do’” he recalls.  He was grateful for her help: “It was a different world and it’s daunting when you start out.”   Paul then began buying and selling in earnest and was especially drawn to Art Deco, which was still fairly easy to come by, and reasonably priced; whereas now there is a much higher demand for it.

Has he ever had any exciting ‘finds’?  Paul smiles: “Well I did once come across a pair of Viennese hock glasses by Otto Prutscher at a fair;  they were in perfect condition, but not marked. I bought them for nearly nothing and ended up selling them at auction for  £3,000 at auction. I think that was my best buy.”   

Paul moved his collection up to The Old Cinema a few years ago and has never looked back.

“I love vibrant colours against a canvas of white walls; the idea of being able to constantly change and add accessories, furniture and textiles in lots of different patterns and themes”. Such is Lucy Salem’s attitude to living which pervades her collection at The Old Cinema. Pieces are constantly changing but you may find a vintage chest of drawers painted in vividly contrasting shades of  pistachio, cobalt and paprika; a pair of neat 1950’s armchairs newly covered in duck-egg blue velvet, or a slightly eccentric retro tiled table with chrome legs. Even prosaic items  become objects of beauty designed to light up dark corners; check out her glittering wastepaper bins, upcycled medicine chest  or brightly painted hatstands

Like many of  the dealers at The Old Cinema, Lucy comes from an artistic background. Her grandmother was an interior decorator with a shop in Knightsbridge, where Lucy spent a lot of her spare time,  and her mother was an antique dealer, who sold jewellery and clothing at  Portobello market on Saturday mornings so Lucy moved variously between smart, and shabby chic and both were to inspire her creative instinct.  

Lucy herself studied Fashion and Textiles at Cordwainers and she went on to specialise in designing shoes and handbags. Now a design developer for a well-known brand, she juggles a hectic life between managing a team and overseeing concepts for luxury fashion accessories.  As a busy mum with a pretty much full-time job, Lucy’s time at the Old Cinema is precious: “I love being here and particularly overhearing what people say as they walk round; the ones that remember these retro items when they appeared first time round and those, younger visitors who are seeing them for the first time - it’s fascinating” she says. 

With colour her main motivation, Lucy spends much time scurrying off to antiques fairs and markets,  and comes back with whatever she can fit into her tiny Nissan Micra. “I understand why people deal in jewellery” she laughs: “It’s so much more portable”.  Old pieces of furniture are picked up, restored, painted, and given their own unique appeal. Everything is recycled as she feels that more and more, this is what people are looking for, “because it has so much more character and no two pieces are the same” she explains.  Lucy also stocks a number of paintings and her most recent acquisition was an original commission for the 1960’s iconic boutique - Bus Stop. “I had it up in my hallway for a long time” she says; “It’s so redolent of the era, it’s wonderful”.

One of the fasting-selling and most popular elements of Lucy’s collection are her beautiful silk cushions, made with old silk scarves which are cleverly cut to create striking new designs, then backed with velvet and filled with feathers. It is a wonderfully creative way to use up beautiful lengths of patterned silk which would otherwise just sit in a drawer -  and clearly Chiswick customers agree since she can’t seem to make enough of them.

The arrival of the Swatch in 1983 revolutionized time keeping. In the late 70s, wristwatches were synonymous with Swiss jewels of careful craftsmanship, with few changes as they passed through generations. However, the introduction to the market of low cost Asian alternatives that challenged the Swiss in quality, saw a rapid decline in fortunes of the Swiss wristwatch.

Not Vital

Nicolas G. Hayek saw a solution. His curiosity with a “second watch”, an inexpensive yet uplifting time piece that captured the personality of an individual, would prove to be the saviour of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Radical and vibrant designs (not to mention the move to plastic), catalysed a growing trend of the Swatch Watch amongst an entire generation’s youth.

Over the years, Swatch has quickly established itself to be the trailblazer of watch brands. Continuous innovation in relation to texture and colour, including invitations to artists to design their own watch, has guaranteed that Swatch remained at the top. The establishment of the Collectors Club as well as limited edition releases, have fueled a society of collectors that continue to see the value in their favorite Swatch watch.

From the very beginning, the connection between Swatch and art through Pop culture was inseparable. In 1984 Kiki Picasso was the first artist commissioned to design a piece, followed by a series of Keith Haring designs. Other notable contributions come from Akira Kurosawa, Spike Lee, Renzo Piano, Yoko Ono, Vivienne Westwood, Not Vital and Annie Leibovitz.

As swatch continue to write the future of watch design, the fascination with vintage swatches will always remain. As numbers dwindle vintage classics rise in value, and with so many keen collectors, it’s never too difficult to track down the swatch that best describes you.

We currently have a large collection of Swatch's available at The Old Cinema, ranging from £60 each.


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