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Opportunity Knocks – LAPADA Conference 2020


2020 LAPADA Conference

London, 3 March 2020: The antiques trade must overhaul its image and capitalise on the growing demand for sustainable living according to panellists at the 2020 LAPADA Conference for the art & antiques trade, which took place on 3 March.

LAPADA Chairman, Lord de Mauley, and CEO Freya Simms, welcomed 150 dealers and associates to a day of globally renowned speakers from business and academia, stimulating learning opportunities and peer to peer networking within the elegant surrounds of RSA House.

The keynote speaker was Dr Xavier Bray, Director of The Wallace Collection who shared his vision to bring the museum and its diverse contents to a wider audience through the introduction of temporary exhibitions.  He touched on the success of contemporary – and at times contentious – collaborations citing the recent exhibition of Manolo Blahnik as an example and the upcoming exhibition, Faithful and Fearless, the first British exhibition to focus solely on the portrayal of dogs.  Dr Bray also shared the importance of the reinterpretation of Lady Wallace’s will, allowing for future loans that generate excitement and draw in new audiences.

A further highlight of the LAPADA Conference was Fortnum & Mason CEO, Ewan Venters, under whose custodianship the historic royal grocer has flourished, remaining true to its historic roots whilst engaging and embracing a new global audience.  Venters described the underpinning marketing strategy as “more relevant, more of the time, to more people” responding to the shift in luxury consumers’ tastes. He described social media as the modern-day shop floor and advised delegates that they should never assume that what used to work will work for the future.  They should embrace social as a new vehicle of communication.  Finally, he emphasised the importance of the customer experience and how rare things will become increasingly desirable. What did Venters believe the major shift of the next 5-10 years to be? “The world will buy less new stuff, but they will buy more thoughtfully”.

Digital media expert, Ben Mason of the Tom Sawyer Effect, shared valuable insights into what makes engaging social media content.  With many dealers challenged by the fast-developing digital world, Mason encouraged delegates to think more about what the audience wants to see, ensuring that expertise or insights accompany posts thereby adding value to the follower.  He talked of incorporating rich content across multiple platforms – web, e-newsletters, social – and cautioned of only posting when there is reason to do so and to avoid “feeding the beast”.

The afternoon’s lively panel discussion saw dealers, decorators and designers debate how the trade can leverage growing consumer demand for sustainable living, capitalising on antiques’ longevity and low carbon footprint.  Nigel Worboys of the not-for-profit Antiques are Green, highlighted the growing momentum amongst Gen Z and how the trade has a golden opportunity to exploit desire and demand for antique furniture.  Architectural historian Edward Bulmer cited the need for greater collaboration between dealers and designers to curate installations that inspire purchase, while US media personality and designer, Kelli Ellis, stressed Britain’s furniture-making traditions beloved of American and other international buyers, along with the need to make the industry’s image relevant to a younger audience.

Closing the LAPADA Conference, Freya Simms commented, “We called this year’s conference ‘opportunity knocks,’ because we knew it would offer our members a diverse line up of speakers, who all share a common attribute – passion for their sector, deep understanding of their audience and desire and determination to push the boundaries and challenge what has gone before. LAPADA has a valuable role to play in helping our members to collaborate and think differently about their businesses, challenging the status quo and proving that the antiques trade is as relevant to a seasoned collector for whom provenance is fundamental to a Gen-Z making their first purchase based on design aesthetic and commitment to sustainability.”

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