A New Vintage
Chatting with new Antique & Design Center owner Geoffrey Walsky
When a young Geoffrey Walsky was getting toted around by with his mother to trunk shows, he had no idea that one day he’d open his own 20,000-square-foot design center. Owner of the new Fairfield County Antique and Design Center in Norwalk, Walsky talks shop about antiquing, interiors and the Connecticut community.
What first drew your interest to antiques and interior design?
As a kid, my mom was a decorative designer, originally from France. She would begrudgingly drag me to shows and antique galleries. Then as an adult, my wife and I got into buying antiques and started collecting more than we could keep, so we became dealers.
How can an antique complete a room’s design?
I like an eclectic mix of old and new, antique with modern. A lot of people comment that places like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware offer new items that look antique, but the real thing has a much better quality. And there’s often more notoriety based on who designed it.
Do you remember the first antique you purchased?
I can’t exactly, but my wife and I are suckers for old wood with interesting details: Pieces with inlayed design, and old secretaries.
Is there a trick to finding that “wow” item?
No! I have a strong retail background, and always went by the maxim that you don’t buy for yourself, but mirror the mission. Now, we buy things we like and it works for us, and is successful sales-wise. We shop estate sales, other antique and design centers, and even Ebay and Craig’s List. I like a good flea market, the fun’s in the hunt.
What are some clues as to the authenticity of an item?
It depends. On name brand and designer items, you look for the label or signature. Then, check for the details and quality. Hardware should be from older metals, not chrome. Also, certain designers have similarities between pieces, and you can keep an eye out for that.
What made you want to open your own antique and design center?
I managed museum retail shops, including the Intrepid in New York. I’ve been looking for a building, and when I lost several of my retail locations to Sandy, I started focusing on opening a design center. Connecticut is the perfect place, not only because of its wealth but also for its appreciation of art, design and antiques. I grew up in Fairfield and currently live in Weston, so Fairfield County is home to me.
Describe the kinds of items the space will feature.
We have everything from 17th century antique to mid-century modern and contemporary design items. We also have a 2,000-square-foot art gallery. There’s something for everyone.
How can the center act as a resource for local designers?
It’s funny because we’re in a great place to do retail, but I didn’t realize how great until I heard designers were moving their offices to be closer to our 100-plus dealers. Now, we’re doing events and shows geared towards decorators. But as always, there’s only so much space. We’ve been getting “wish-lists” from designers and sending them to our dealers. It’s a great way to connect the buyers with the sellers.