From decorative objects to vintage motorcycles, these chic collectors are powered by passion.
Darin Roberge’s job—president of Motorwerks Marketing (motorwerksmarketing.com), the premiere advertising agency strictly serving the classic, collector and specialty automotive marketplace—directly relates to his passion for motorcycles and cars. “Motorwerks is great, not only because I get to come to work with awesome, talented, inspiring team members and clients that I really enjoy spending time with personally,” he says, "but because I get to play with the coolest cars in the world all the time. How do you beat that?”
Roberge grew up with racing in his blood: His grandfather and uncle were factory racers for various motorcycle manufacturers. His collection consists of midcentury, small displacement, single-cylinder Italian racing bikes. “That is really what my main passion is, but I also have a prewar American racing machine,” he says. “All my bikes are in original but preserved, barn find condition.” Highlights include a 1971 Malanca Competitzone time capsule survivor and his dream bike, a 1956 Gilera Sport.
“Part of why I like my collection is that I focus more on things that are special than I do on things that are valuable or rapidly appreciating," says Roberge. “This said, there is definite investment potential in this marketplace right now, especially toward the higher end. Any kind of high-performance Italian motorcycle from the early to mid-1970s is extremely hot.” Roberge also advises collectors to stay open-minded and not to accumulate too much. “Curate what you have, keep the best, and the things that don’t fit in with your current objectives, move them along to new custodians who will appreciate them more than you do. Remember, at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun.”
“I first developed an interest and appreciation for vintage items when I was an interior designer,” shares designer Bonnie Radow of Bonnie Radow Design (bonnieradowdesign.com). “As my interests evolved into jewelry design, I realized how beautiful and unique my pieces would be if they captured a bit of the past as well as the charm and craftsmanship of the vintage pieces. Incorporating elements into my current work helps to contemporize the jewelry to make it more relevant to the present and future.”
As an interior designer, Radow had a few clients who owned pieces from the Victorian era. “I felt a special connection with older pieces, which continued to inspire me throughout my career,” she says. “During my travels, I began to collect pieces from around the world relating to these times, and it naturally became a part of my art and jewelry designs.” Her collection includes many treasures from her mother and aunt, including antiques, jewelry, art and vanity items from around the world—all of which work their way into the pieces she creates and sells. “My personal jewelry collection is multifaceted, ranging from contemporary to heirloom and often blending the two styles," she says. “Interestingly, all these different pieces can be beautifully worn together.”
“Look for things that inspire you and, at the same time, give you pleasure to possess,” Radow explains. “Find items worthy of passing on to future generations; these will ensure you remain in the memories of those you love forever.” She also recommends only buying pieces from places you know and trust, something that ensures authenticity and fair pricing. Lastly, Radow advises collectors to go with their gut when acquiring pieces. “Buy only items you truly love and cherish,” she says. “This will ensure the pieces are priceless to you!"
“My interest in collecting started at a very young age, but furniture entered the picture after I moved to New York City in 1984,” says Tod Carson of Tod Carson Antiques and Interiors (todcarson.com). “I knew very few people in the city and would spend my days off and Sundays going to flea markets and auction houses.” Over the years, Carson, who began acquiring classical pieces, expanded his collection to include items from the Empire or Napoleonic period.
“My collection really is my career. It encompasses my travels, people I have met, villages visited and museums that represent my personal interests,” says Carson, whose showroom has evolved with the market. “We used to sell primarily 19th-century furniture, paintings and decorative arts. We now have a great deal of 18th-century pieces from the periods of Louis XV, Louis XVI and Directoire while remaining very classic with clean lines. The construction is absolutely superb,” he adds. “The dovetailing and finishes are perfection. We are greatly relieved that people are starting to move away from beige, cream and white ceramic lamps.”
“The best way to begin collecting is to find an image of a room that really appeals to you,” Carson shares. “Look at the core items in that room; that is the place to start.” He also advises clients to buy furniture with lasting appeal, like French furniture, which is very linear. “Never be afraid to ask if you can take something out on approval,” he adds, noting that a thorough inspection should be made before purchasing anything. “Good antiques hold their value, but there are no guarantees,” he explains. “Make sure you really like anything you purchase. There are no sure-bet items. The market and people’s tastes change constantly.”
Photography by: CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT, PHOTOS FROM GETTY IMAGES/BY: SEPIA TIMES, TRISTAN FEWINGS, TIMOTHY A. CLARY, HAROLD CUNNINGHAM, FABRICE COFFRINI, DANIEL LEAL, IAN WEST/PA IMAGES; COURTESY OF TABRON PHOTOGRAPHY; COURTESY OF TABRON PHOTOGRAPHY; COURTESY OF PETER VANDER STOEP; COURTESY OF PETER VANDER STOEP; COURTESY OF FRANK VITALE