On the completion of the new East Croydon Station in 1992, the building was described as adding a ‘soothing uncluttered elegance to a remarkably jumbled part of Croydon.’ The glass and steel building, though not universally liked, was designed so future reorganisation and change could easily be accommodated. Timelessness, built in.
Perhaps the designers knew that almost a quarter of a century later, the remarkably jumbled Croydon of the nineties would be in the midst of a renaissance. Stepping out of East Croydon, it’s more than apparent that the ripples of regeneration have reached the area. However, I eschew the option of a craft beer and polenta fries at Boxpark and head for one of the new Croydon’s real gems in search of vintage treasures.
Nestled just around the corner in Cherry Orchard Road, Number8 Antiques and Vintage was opened in 2015 by local residents Grant Ayliffe and Sara Cadogan and you can’t help but be enticed by the beautifully preserved shop front. I’d had my eye on a pallet table on the website for some time, and a visit to the shop reveals a wide collection of vintage furniture and accessories, sensitively restored in the workshop nextdoor before going to new homes. Soothing uncluttered elegance indeed – this is the real sanctuary of East Croydon.
I was lucky enough to have a chat with Grant about where it all began for Number8, and how to inject a dash of timeless vintage design to any home. Read on for inspiration…
RE: When did your love affair with all things quirky and vintage begin?
GA: I’ve been lucky to have experienced many ‘making disciplines’, I trained as a cabinet maker, then glass blower and plaster mould maker during my 3D Design degree and then studied glass and ceramics at the Royal College of Art. I also run a Graphics and installation design studio, 10minus2 (it’s all about the Number8!), so my fascination with making and restoring objects, good design and craftsmanship has long been an obsession. My wife Sara had been a vintage dealer in the past so our collecting and love of objects has grown into a business.
RE: There must be plenty of ‘vintage’ out there. What makes a piece stand out?
GA: There is a lot of choice and price points for vintage out there, but not all pieces have longevity. Always go with quality, if an object has survived for over 60 years and is still going strong then it’s a good sign that with renovation it will only grow more interesting as an object.
Above: a pallet table at Number8, of which I am now the proud owner
RE: What normally happens during the restoration period (depending on the type of item of course)?
GA: The overarching ethos is to retain the sense of history that a piece has, stripping something right back and starting again seems to me to be disrespectful to its past. Depending on the material the most precious quality a piece can have is its patina, cracked leather, pitted and rusted metal or wood grain that has been re-waxed many times, the trick is to do as little as possible to ensure the piece can continue its function and retains its integrity.
RE: What inspired you to open Number8?
GA: I traded at Spitalfields and Bermondsey markets for a few years and it grew to a concession in Brick Lane and various other vintage fairs, then I was looking to set up the workshop with a good friend and we found the space in Croydon that now houses AyliffeMiller workshop and the number8 Store. For a while I was running between Brick Lane and Croydon but as time went on I wanted to focus on the Croydon shop, it’s where I live and there wasn’t another store like ours.
RE: Walking in to the store, it’s got a wonderful feel about it. How would you describe the style of the Number8 store, inside and out?
GA: We really want the store to be about finding that piece of furniture, lighting or homewares that becomes a small treasure or larger statement piece but always communicate a sense of style and good design. Maybe the start of a collection or an eclectic vintage piece that works in a contemporary interior, whatever the budget.
RE: Why do you think vintage and quirky items still have appeal? Do you think the appeal of some items is cyclic?
GA: I think vintage items have a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, we feel like they are somehow established without being intimidating, interesting objects are unique and there ownership is about adding to their history.
There are certain vintage styles that are cyclical, but good quality materials, design and craftsmanship for me, are important to the pieces we select for the shop.
RE: What should people look for when investing in a vintage item?
GA: Good quality will always be a sound investment; vintage pieces should be used, so think about their function and utility in your home. Sometimes it’s an alternative function that becomes interesting, an office desk as a dinning table, galvanised troughs as herb gardens or a vintage postal sack as a laundry bag. But sometimes you can simply just fall in love and appreciate the time worn beauty of an object and that is enough.
RE: Are any items particularly in vogue at the moment?
GA: Midcentury, Industrial and Danish items are popular for there utility and quality and are fuelled by the popularity of Scandi dramas and Midcentury Modern fairs.
There is definitely an interest in the store for functional and rational design at the moment which is reflected in the sale of industrial pendant lights, Finnish dinning chairs and recently a beautiful Georgian center table that was bought to use as an office desk.
Above: Chrome and Teak Chandelier, £95
RE: Do you have to live in a home of a certain era to introduce vintage items? Or can this be done tastefully in any home?
GA: A well-selected vintage piece can compliment any home regardless of era. We try to reflect the way that pieces from different historic eras can come together to create a really interesting contemporary space, for example, currently we have an early 19 century gilded mercury split mirror that sits next to a square Victorian oak dinning table with Ercol chairs and a battered leather Danish swivel chair
RE: What are you working on in the workshop at the moment?
GA: Currently I am restoring an early 1970’s Macintosh dinning table, 6 chairs and sideboard for a customer, rewiring a 1940’s Mole Richardson theatre light and making stars and trees based on vintage designs for our Christmas interior in the shop.
Number8 will be hosting late night openings every Thursday from 17 November until Christmas. Both the shop and workshop will be open until 9:30 with a glass of wine or two to keep the cold out.