Based in Rio Visto, California, Erin Lane Estate features an exquisite array of hand-selected vintage and antique finds. They source their inventory rather uniquely, by purchasing entire estates in California and curating the very best, most iconic items that were part of the sale. And when we say iconic, we mean iconic: a De Sede snake sofa? Got it. If that’s not your style, perhaps a Bambole sectional? Or a Maison Jansen desk? Whatever your taste, from the big pieces to the small accessories, they’ve got something for every vintage hunter.
We spoke with founder Erin Lane about the creation of her business, the pieces she can’t keep in stock, and the trends she sees coming next. See what she had to say, and be sure to shop the Erin Lane Estate storefront on Chairish.
First and foremost, how did you launch your firm? How did estate sales factor into your business?
We started ELE out of a passion and love for vintage and antique furniture. We wanted a place where we would love to shop. At the time, we enjoyed Big Daddy Antiques, but had a hard time finding any other places we liked to shop. We started selling some of our items at antique events for fun and eventually started buying entire estates. That was the pivotal moment when we opened our first 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Oakland, California, in April, 2014.
How was sourcing affected by the pandemic, and how did it affect business overall? Did you pivot the way you work as a result of changes in the industry over the last two years?
We used to spend 50% of our time traveling, mostly for weekly SoCal estate-purchasing trips, but since Covid, we have switched our business model and now have clients send us photos so that we can do our purchasing online. It has actually allowed us to expand our business and find more items.
Do you get most of your customers through digital methods like Chairish? Do you see that having an effect on how designers shop for vintage, in particular?
Designers are our main clients and most of them contact us online when they find pieces they need. We have an enormous list of design firm followers.
You have a particular specialty in chinoiserie, Asian antiques, Hollywood Regency, French, and mid-century pieces. How did you determine that focus?
Since my husband is a Bay Area native, it has allowed us exposure to lots of Asian art and furnishings. We have always loved the way Asian decor adds complexity and interest to a space. We like to work with what we can source locally.
What types of pieces do you see moving these days? What are the patterns in terms of what’s selling right now?
Home office spaces aren’t going away any time soon.
Do you see any upcoming trends in terms of what’s next for the design world? What types of pieces do you hope to stock next?
Pieces made in the organic modern style of natural materials such as bamboo, rattan, wicker, and also marble and stone. People are also investing in antique iron garden furniture and we search out 19th-century pieces made in English and French foundries like Coalbrookdale and Val D’ Osne—ironworks made in the Gilded Age that will last for centuries.
Are there any styles or trends you’d like to see disappear in the design world right now?
Mass-produced mid-century modern, but that will never happen since it’s easy to work with. Only because the materials are not high quality.
Who are some of your favorite makers or designers, in terms of your own inspirations?
Jean-Michel Frank; furnishings with high-end materials.
What’s a dream piece you’d love to have for yourself?
A pair of John Dickinson African side tables and a Fornasetti Archittettura trumeau cabinet. Sorry, I can’t pick just one.
What’s next for Erin Lane, both digitally and in terms of the brick-and-mortar business?
We would love to scale our business and have warehouses in New York, Florida, and Atlanta. I think we have a proven model that can work anywhere in the country with enough capital, space, and time. We strongly encourage anyone with a passion for antiques to follow your dreams no matter how large.
Lead image: Victoria Manildi O’Brien