Resident Expert Q&A: Toma Clark Haines, Vintage & Antiques (Continued...)
Hello again, Fabulistas!
I am back with Toma Clark Haines, our Resident Expert in Vintage and Antiques. We are continuing our conversation about finding treasured pieces for your home, and today’s post covers the journey to finding these special items. Plus, a look into the life and designs of the Antiques Diva and beyond!
The Antiques Experience…
Robin: Toma, you are so well versed in taking antiquing tours, and you have done it for years. What is the Antiques Diva tour experience like?
Toma: Taking an Antiques Tour with us will open a window into the soul of another country. When you look outside of yourself and travel, you get to know yourself better...During my tours, each person gets a glimpse of the country and its history. Exploring antiques from different time periods provides insights into other cultures, ideas, and ways of living... It is also quite simply about looking at fascinating objects. Even more than that, it is really about the experience of traveling a distance for that special piece, buying it, and having it become a conversation you have with your guests.
Robin: You have travelled all around the world and explored vintage and antiques from so many places and periods. Could you tell us about the different types of antiques that you usually work with on your tours with your clients?
Toma: We look for what our clients want. Whether we are working with an interior designer, or even the public, our focus is on the client. They are the ones making the music, our job is to simply make it all function smoothly.
Our Antique Tours always start with asking what the client wants. If you are just starting to collect, and are unsure about where to look, we know exactly the right places to take you. We custom choreograph the tour for the clients to be able to go and explore and find what they are looking for quickly, and within their budget.
These days with the virtual world being so popular, we are connecting with our clients online via Instagram Live. Our tour guides showcase the process of purchasing vintage and antiques, and their travels. We’ve been hosting virtual tours for those who cannot travel or do not have time to travel.
Robin: Who are some of your clients?
Toma: I work with interior designers, antique dealers, hoteliers, and also furniture manufacturers. We often accompany them to flea markets to help them get ideas through things that intrigue them. We also work directly with the public in addition to professionals of trade.
Robin: I know you designed a collection of furniture. How did that come about? What inspired you and how do you feel about the collection?
Toma: Yes, I have a couple of different collections. One of them is the Antiques Diva collection by Aidan Gray... and it all started with a conversation with Randall Weeks, who was a client of mine. He had come to France to source ideas for his furniture collection, and we worked together with him to take tours for sourcing objects. He told me about how his company was always known for more traditional interior design...and he was looking to incorporate more modern elements into his work. The idea stuck with me.
One day, when I was in a flea market, I noticed a beautiful frame of a chair without a seat. It spoke to me like a work of art...a sculpture. Randall’s idea of mixing modern and antique came to me as an inspiration that turned into a wonderful venture.
Robin: What else are you doing? You have an incredible jewelry collection under your label “The Republic of Toma.” That is so different from antiques. What inspired you to design jewelry?
Toma: In addition to furniture and jewelry, I am also designing a fabric collection… I recently met a friend who said to me that everything I was doing was so different from each other. If you really think about it, it is not at all different. It is all connected. My original background, English Literature, was all about reading, and translating the learning into recognizing signs and symbols. Whether it is reading a book or reading an object, my thing is all about deciphering the true meaning of things.
Various designs and works of art spoke to me during my travels...and often I was able to translate those designs into jewelry. Think about a chandelier that hangs in the living room. How different is it from the chandelier that hangs from your ear? If you start thinking in terms of shape, you can think about the things that beautify a space, and also beautify you.
Many of my designs draw inspiration from the Neoclassical period, and original carvings found on these historical pieces. My first jewelry collection displayed various forms of snakes inspired from Art Deco, the second one had a lot of frogs and monkeys. They were symbols of transformation that reflected the changes I was going through in my personal life. I saw the challenging time as an opportunity to be transformed.
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So, what do you think? Are you ready to venture into the fascinating world of Vintage and Antiques? Now that you’ve had a taste of just how wonderful and unique this aspect of decorating and design can be, I hope you feel empowered to go treasure hunting to find something you love.
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Read the first part of our Q&A with Toma.