What Jake Arnold Always Buys Vintage (All in One Exclusive Collection!)The Expert Team
When we started The Expert, our mission was to give everyone access to the world’s top design minds. That was only the beginning. Now, we’re reimagining what shopping for your home can be—and we’re thrilled to bring you a first taste with The Expert Vintage.
For this inaugural collection, we asked our co-founder, AD100 interior designer Jake Arnold, to curate a dream capsule of vintage lighting and furniture. “I do this for clients all the time, so it felt like a natural progression to find really great pieces that could live in anyone's home,” he explains.
From collectors’ items by Märta Blomstedt and Poul Henningsen to rare mid-century finds sourced throughout Europe, each piece was hand-selected by Jake for its timeless silhouette. He paired each chair and sofa with the world’s best fabrics from heritage textile houses like Pierre Frey, Zak+Fox, and Dedar, and ensured so much heart and soul went into restoring, reupholstering, and rewiring every item to the highest standards in Los Angeles. Here, he’s letting us in on his process:
What draws you to a vintage piece? I start with whether it sparks a reaction naturally—I buy things that I like. If it has provenance, it's a bonus. But it’s not my primary focus. I look for pieces that feel lived in and have a natural patina, but I also look for items that can be cleaned up. There's a fine line between something that has patina and age and something that looks used and old.
What do you look for when you're shopping for vintage furniture or lighting?
I look for warmer wood tones and warmer patinaed brasses, especially when it comes to lighting. I also look for things that are hard to find, because as designers, we tend to be obsessed with doing what's new or what hasn't been done. But it’s often the timeless silhouettes that are the hardest to source.
What are your go to types of fabrics for upholstery?
I love raw linen and hemp jute mixed with plush luxurious mohairs and velvets. I love a flatweave wool, as well. The quality is what makes the biggest difference. These vintage pieces require a deep luxe tactile nature. Some of these older fabric houses pride themselves on quality and using fibers that are built to last. As a designer, but also as a consumer, buying things that are durable and not just trendy is really important.
Tell me about the fabrics you picked—what makes them special?
I have my go-tos: a lot of Pierre Frey and Dedar because their prints are timeless while still being fun. What I enjoy the most is sourcing from the older companies that have incredible heritage prints that, when pulled out of context and reimagined, have an entirely fresh take.
I also like to focus on how the fabric is used: the direction of a stripe, whether the print will cover the entire piece or just the seat… Piping choices and how the textile is applied is what's important in doing these iconic pieces justice. Fabric and upholstery details really tell a story.
What are the things that you avoid when you're buying vintage? Any red flags?
I hate the word funky, but I avoid anything that reads too esoteric—the pieces that make you say "you either get it or you don't." I'm all about people being able to buy into something that makes their spaces feel highly livable but impactful. Avant garde pieces have a place—I would buy them for myself and private clients if appropriate for the project—but this collection really focuses on versatility; the forever pieces that work in so many types of homes.
What should you always buy vintage when you're furnishing a house?
I always buy vintage lighting and chairs.
Why buy vintage instead of new?
There are so many incredible pieces out there that don't require wastage and can be totally reimagined. There's such a beauty in something that has history or an origin that isn't from a big box store. The piece has an inherent personality. If you’re looking to shop more sustainability, the best thing you can do is buy vintage. Also, most of us don't have time to wait for long lead times. When it's vintage, it's available, it's ready, it's there.
What are your some of your favorite pieces in the collection?
I love the Jim Thompson pinstripe velvet fabric settee with a tuxedo back—it’s so sophisticated. I also really love the pair of chairs with the Pierre Frey floral fabric with the wood detail on the arm—they’re so interesting on their own but would also work really well in a seating group. Honestly, I love all of it.
What makes this collection different?
This vintage collection was born with the mindset that we're acting as Experts in terms of the edit, the curation, and the final 10% that makes a piece the best version of itself. People don’t realize how much work goes into refurbishing a vintage piece. Just from a pure timing point of view, the amount of time it takes to pick a fabric, order the fabric, get the fabric delivered, have the fabric upholstered, get it shipped—all of the logistics—cuts out a massive amount of work.
We put tons of time into the selection of the fabrics, the labor of the upholstery and completely restructuring the inside and the springs… The difference is in all those details that you don't see to get it up to the best standard it can be, to make it feel like it's been taken care of, and to give it a fresh perspective. We're basically presenting a piece in its best version.