Puckhaber is a unique antiques shop found on the Lillie Road (a hidden antiques destination in Fulham, South West London). A mother and son collaboration, the team selects exquisite pieces from across the UK and France that are regularly featured in World of Interiors and selected by world renowned designers. We met with Martyn to talk about the company’s history, what inspires him, and what home means to him.
Puckhaber was started by my Mother, Jackie Harris about 10 years ago. She had been antiques dealing for 20 years but was trading under her late partner’s name Brad Newman. They needed to re-brand/ start a new business for exhibiting at the Decorative Fair. The name came from a little china chalice from her collection that said “Mrs Puckhaber – 1876”.
Mum started buying and selling at jumble sales and boot fairs in Sussex just as a way to earn a bit of extra cash. This gradually evolved into showing at antiques fairs like Ardingly and Newark. She also had spaces in antiques centres in Lewes. She later met my step father Brad Newman and they started dealing out of his shop in New Romney and exhibiting at the Decorative Fair, until eventually ending up on the Lillie Road!
On a personal level, I grew up around the business and was dragged around French flea markets in the early hours of Sunday mornings. I grew to resent the business and when I left school went to work in the photographic industry. About 10 years ago I needed to furnish a flat and Mum said I should tag along on a buying trip. I loved the buzz of hunting for beautiful pieces and the penny dropped that I could do it for a living.
I started by buying my own pieces and selling them through Puckhaber. A few years later sadly Brad died resulting in Mum and I becoming business partners to keep Puckhaber going.
Wherever we see pieces we like! We do the majority of our buying from big antiques trade markets in France but we also buy from local shops, auctions, runners, online and even Instagram!
We only buy pieces we like or could live with ourselves. But we tend to focus on shape, form, patina and anything quirky or unusual. Therefore, our collection is quite eclectic: French, English, Swedish, Italian etc. – 18th, 19th and 20th century.
In terms of knowing if something is right – experience gives us a feel for it. For example, if you look at hundreds of pieces of painted furniture you start to learn the difference between a new and original paint finish. Also, the materials used and methods in construction can help you date the piece.
I couldn’t possibly answer! The advantage of our business is that we can chop and change our personal items as we like. Personally, I get most enjoyment from buying art and primitive furniture. Although I do have my eye on one of Mum’s 19th century comb back armchairs!
Same as above really, it’s the art that I enjoy the most and often slightly sad to see it go!
Home is being surrounded by people you love and hopefully some beautiful pieces as well.
Simply we want our clients to be really happy with their pieces. I like to think that we buy pieces that have good shape and form and hopefully this means they are timeless.
Well, I have to say that I have learnt a great deal (and still learning) from my mother, Jackie. She has a fantastic eye and is great at styling. I like to think I have inherited these skills! I also think my partner Nix Reid is a very talented designer, she has made me appreciate modern design and I have applied some of this aesthetic to Puckhaber. I think you have to take inspiration from many sources… antiques dealer colleagues, customers, interior designers, artists etc.