Coming Up




I’ve often thought, and been asked, why I don’t have a shop. I have a home and office full of treasured finds from all corners of the globe but there is a very big difference between sourcing props for work, or objects for home, to sourcing pieces to sell. I’d have no problem being up early to catch the best deals, the issue for me is that I would get emotionally attached them. Adam, however, doesn’t seem to have the problem. 

The romantic illusion often associated with salvage is that great finds just happen to fall upon you in some kind of karmic and serendipitous way but as Adam, owner of Retrouvius, explains this is not the case. In reality you need to trawl the antique fairs, make contact with other dealers and demolition companies. Prior to our 10am, Adam had already been madly running around a market held in a Sussex field at 5am with pockets full of cash scouting for the ultimate buys. That’s very much the dealing side of it but what excites Adam more is the opportunity of saving an item. Purchasing and salvaging; the two are of obviously interrelated, and the more you talk to him the more you realise it’s the latter that drives him.

Retrouvius, now 20 years old, started as a reaction to seeing things being destroyed or completely under appreciated. “Walking down the street and seeing a beautiful 100 year old piece of wood tossed aside, which taken another 100 years or more before that to grow, and being completely ignored and trashed. Wood itself isn’t inherently beautiful but when you are thinking about the providence and history of it, then it becomes exciting.” His Friends often refer to his salvaging as depression, constantly coming in contact with such destruction, Adam’s response is that’s why you have to fight it to try and save it.

Salvage for some dealers tends be quite broad, it’s more general and varied or pieces that are in fashion, Adam, however, is drawn to items that need to be saved and often esoteric. He talks about how over the last few years he’s been drawn particularly to Victorian mahogany case furniture, “items that are unfashionable on the whole, which makes me love them even more. It’s a challenge to find such items a new home and make people reappraise such them”. Customers are generally aware of what they are looking for when they enter Retrouvius, others enter on a friends recommendation with no real idea of what to expect. Adam enjoys the idea of being able to talk people around to loving a table or chair once they learn about the providence of each pieces. Whether it be on the basis on the inherent qualities of wood or the skills used to make it.

“Every piece has a destiny and history. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right client. I buy things I like and wait of the right person”

Adam, also an architect, reflects over the past 20yrs at how fashion for restoration has changed. “In the 80’s it was all about stripping pine when in actual fact the Victorian’s never used bare timber. In the quest for the fashionable ‘reclaimed’ look, layers of history in paint and paper are been removed”. For Adam the whole joy of salvage is to celebrate history. “ I love getting pieces from an old museum or big institution where they have been sitting untouched for close to 150yrs. No one was messed around them. They have character”. He insists that it’s not true that all the old skills are gone. “They are out there. There has been a resurgence of late with people teaching themselves traditional skills.”

 “The ultimate joy of being a dealer is being able to buy whatever takes your fancy” says Adam, “I can justify almost anything. There are a few pieces that we regret parting with, not so much to do with me personally wanting them, but more for the fact that he feels they were under appreciated, not by the buyer, but by time itself.”

The odd piece has made its way into the family home. One being a large tapestry that adorns the living room wall which has kicked off a whole new interest in the skill.

[This won’t be news to some, but finding a suitable soundtrack that sums up a film is not easy, usage rights and money being the two main issues. HOME MOVI is proud to introduce a new contributor Dan Donovan, formerly of Big Audio Dymanite, into the HM team. Dan has especially created the sound track for this film. Enjoy.]


Text: Melinda Ashton Turner

Sound Track: Dan Donovan

Still Photography: Grant Turner


©All copyrights owned by Home Movi or as credited


Italian holiday
Light and shade
in Italy