Tradition and Technology: The Rise of The Virtual Fair

Over the last three months the world has adapted to ‘the new normal’, with individuals, families, friends, small businesses and corporations transforming the way they live and work. The antiques trade is no stranger to this, as the enduring and established conventions of showrooms and fairs ceased trading at the beginning of lockdown. Amongst the uncertainty of how business would continue, the art and antiques trade demonstrated their adaptability and versatility by directing their expertise into the online world, from auctions and marketplaces to the rise of the Virtual Fair.

Renowned for its traditional and personal approach to dealing in showrooms, galleries or exhibitions, the antiques and art industry has developed synonymously with the exponential rise in online trade and has been tailoring business strategies to meet the ever changing needs of clientele across the world. Smartphones and tablets mean that browsing and buying from the comfort of your own home has become more possible and more appealing than ever - a far cry from the visits to showrooms around the country to peruse a piece and ponder it’s purchase. Dealers now invest a substantial portion of their time, money and energy into creating and maintaining a website, uploading stock onto online marketplaces like 2Covet, following online auctions and connecting virtually with customers and dealers around the world. This adaptation over the past decades put dealers in good stead when lockdown began, as online efforts were ramped up to ensure these connections could still be made in a time when we all felt disconnected.

Back on March 18th, The Open Art Fair opened it’s doors for a much anticipated but short lived event that was soon remodelled into the The Virtual Open Art Fair. Leading the way in ensuring customers and dealers alike could get their online fix of the best antiques. The Open Art Fair used panoramic 360 degree photography of the exhibitor’s stands and pieces to allow customers and fellow dealers to explore the fair in the confines of their own home. With many fairs in the diary forced to cancel, organisers and dealers haven been collaborating to showcase their standout pieces on websites, newsletters and social media. The Virtual Petworth Park Fair is keeping up momentum with the hope of a revised date in September, as a plethora of exceptional dealers who were due to exhibit have submitted their incredible pieces to the ‘virtual fair’ on their website. Meanwhile, in the midst of an outstanding range of videos, podcasts and exhibitor features, Masterpiece has promised ‘a range of initiatives in lieu of this year’s edition’.

In the spirit of the virtual fair, 2Covet have curated our own ‘Virtual Gallery’ of pieces to decorate your inside space. However small or large your space may be, the increasing amount of time spent inside during this period has made us appreciate the importance of making a house into a home, through pieces that reflect your design style and personality. With something for everyone, hopefully our curation of exquisite pieces can inspire your home design.

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