Posted by The Old Cinema at Friday, February 07, 2014
....He’s clearly part of the fabric of the place and well-known to all the staff here who accept his provocative banter with affectionate good humour. Initially, he seems slightly perplexed about why I’d want to interview him, but once I assure him it’s very general and I’ll only write nice things, he warms up a bit and we sink into a pair of old leather Chesterfield sofas.
See our collection of Chesterfields.
Even as a boy, Jonathan could sniff out a deal and he and a school friend almost started a business selling fireplaces but couldn’t get the money together so Jonathan went into the City instead. He soon became bored so packed it in and went travelling in Spain. When he came back he began working in an antiques warehouse in Bermondsey, where he met and became friends with Martin Hanness (founder of The Old Cinema before opening an antiques mirror shop in Greenwich - Minerva Antiques - which he still has. He admits he has a ‘thing’ about mirrors - particularly really large, grand ones. “I might have up to 300 in stock at any one time” he explains.
See our collection of Gilt Mirrors.
Jonathan’s particular speciality is in creating a traditional country house look with all the comforts and trappings of the ancestral home. He gestures at the Chesterfields we are sitting in: ‘These sell really well, you have to have the space for them, but they never go out of fashion, they are really hard-wearing and they just get better and better with age.”
See our collection of Leather Armchairs.
Apart from, leather sofas and glass-fronted cabinets (displaying an intriguing collection of pharmacological ephemera), Jonathan has uncovered a demand for customising antique wardrobes. Women, it appears, like the look of them, but not the musty smell they sometimes come with. Jonathan takes off the back and lines the interior with material to seal it and prevent dust getting in. This process, not only protects clothes, but immediately refreshes the interior, eliminating any whiff of previously owned bobcoats and breeches. Shelves and shoe racks can be built in and mirrors are hung inside the doors, bringing up-to-date functionality to a beautiful antique piece.
See our collection of Wardrobes.
Jonathan recognises the current British love of up-cycling and he gets great pleasure re-using timbers taken from broken wardrobes or chests and turning them into something useful; often incorporating interesting features; carved wooden panels and inlays, old lettering and signage, ironmongery, or coloured glass. “The mood is green now.” he says: “ A lot of wood, for example, Cuban mahogany, is fantastic quality but you just can’t buy it any more; almost everything new is made from sustainable pine, so it’s wonderful to be able to give it a new lease of life.”
See our collection of Upcycled Furniture.
As Jonathan says, everyone is different, and each sits somewhere within the spectrum of classic and quirky and most people like a mix of the two. Moods and fashions ebb and flow and what would have been unthinkable 20 years ago is now hot property - as can be seen by the current vogue for 1960’s and 1970’s interior style and furnishings. And people have relaxed a little; “Not so long ago taxidermy was a complete taboo - but now you could have antique moose’s head on the wall and it wouldn’t really bother anyone” he says.
See our collection of Retro Furniture.
As we finish our chat and say goodbye, Jonathan suddenly looks down in consternation at the trainers he has on: "You won't mention these will you, I don't normally wear them?" he says anxiously, then, before I can reply, he grins and goes bounding off.