Though he’s been dubbed the Postmodern King of Chicago, Sean shrugs off most interior style labels with a cool confidence that suggests, ‘I’m keeping my options open.’ His shop, Spears Furnishing, stays not only relevant, but visionary, boasting some unbelievable statement finds. This seems largely thanks to Sean’s resistance to being too defined or hemmed in by any one interior design style, letting necessity, materials, and color, guide his discovery.
We spoke to Sean about the once-in-a-lifetime pieces that have defined his collections, personal and professional, as well as the practical concerns that should inform any vintage buyer. Read on for our conversation, and scroll to the bottom for Sean’s REM Round.
Dendwell: Can you start us off with a brief history of your shop and what type of homewares you consider Spears Furnishing?
Sean: We started in the Summer of 2020 doing handyman and restoration work. After selling some personal items on FBMP and seeing them sell immediately, we slowly shifted our focus into furniture resale. Now we primarily sell designer pieces, art, and small objects we fancy. A lot of sellers keep their styles concise, but we're committed to selling anything we like (and occasionally ones we don't if they'll make us money, like Bilbao sofas).
DD: I respect that! And, ‘anything you like’ seems to be mostly vintage. Why is that?
S: High-end contemporary design is completely inaccessible to the average consumer. For instance, Kelly Wearstler supports some great artists and designers, but who can realistically pay 30k for a credenza? Buy a vintage one for 3k max, and it's easily as nice. Patina is also a wildly overused word at the moment, but wear really does add to character. That's not just with furniture. Get a pair of 80s Guess jeans and you'll notice that they're more comfortable and last longer! Regarding why, the pandemic has really emphasized the importance of having a living space you love. I (admin) lived in a studio apartment pre-pandemic. When I moved, it was because of a simple necessity; I needed a sofa. Watching anime on my bed simply didn't cut it.
DD: As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. It really can be that simple. Though I wouldn’t describe any of your collection as “simple” — How would you describe your style?
S: Tough question! A year ago we were rocking neutrals, serpentine sofas, and wavy tables. We're currently switching over to Italian modern and incorporating blockier elements like the Erasmo sofa. We love chrome, leather, lacquer, and primary colors.
DD: Is that what moves you to source a piece for a new collection? Are those the features you look for?
S: We really don't look for anything or focus on having a collection fit within a specific style. However, we do a lot of estate clear-outs and that means that collections often do match each other since they're from the same home.
DD: So, how do you know when a piece from an estate clear-out is worth buying?
S: Price is low, piece is cool.
DD: A concise formula. And it applies for your customers, as your own formula means you can offer cool pieces affordably to your buyers. We dig it. On that, what has been your favorite find that you've sold in your shop?
S: Easy! We had this great postmodern credenza with custom lacquer done by Kathryn E. Bitting - it went to a great dealer in NC.
DD: What about something in your personal collection you can't live without?
S: Our pop-art whisk by Curtis Jere - it's whimsical and huge.
DD: It really is whimsical and huge! In my opinion, that’s just... not going to come from mass-produced design in this era. Is that the main selling point for choosing vintage? Why in your opinion should everyone shop vintage?
S: Foremost, save money by buying vintage. Pieces are higher quality, last longer, and will never go out of style. As an investment, designer vintage will slowly increase in value too! We're already seeing vintage furniture increasingly seen as a valuable asset by investors due to absurdly high returns at auctions, etc.
DD: True, and I think vintage sellers are the ones who are tapped into that valuation, finding and caring for pieces while they appreciate. What would you say this community of vintage sellers need?
S: The community needs more cooperation between sellers. Together we can make more sales. If we (Spears) get an MCM piece that our clientele wouldn't appreciate, we sell it on the low to another dealer who can get the bag. Do that, and you'll see your kindness returned abundantly.
Favorite designer right now: Afra and Tobia Scarpa
Favorite object right now: Weird hat holder that looks like a wire globe sculpture
Your astrological sign: Taurus gang gang
Texture your eye is drawn to: Smooth, for instance unglazed ceramics make me want to scream when I touch them
Color your eye is drawn to: Orange
When I'm not collecting, curating, and selling vintage wares I am: Climbing, cuddling w/ dog, reorganizing, working on taxes
My estate sale strategy: Don't go to estate sales EVER unless they're private or presale
First song on the estate sale getaway car playlist: idk, but it's by Freddie Gibbs
When I say chair, you think: De Sede
When I say light, you think: Modeline
When I say bend, you think: Nothing
When I say table, you think: Cini Boeri "Lunario"
Nominate another Shop to the Dendwell Directory: Solariummod that's the mf boy!