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Something old, something new: Brand Feature with Just Anthony

The pioneers of antique furniture sourcing, Just Anthony was established in the 1970s and have since flourished into a reputable brand for Chinese antiques and reproductions. We speak to Danielle Lee, owner of Just Anthony, about her passion for these time-worn treasures and her endeavours on diversifying and keeping the antique trade alive. 

Antique furniture has an understated charm of standing the test of time in an era of flat-packed and run-of-the-mill furniture, and that is what attracts Danielle Lee, owner of Chinese antique and oriental lifestyle shop Just Anthony, to them. “For us, we think antique furniture is beautiful, it’s unique and it can really add a lot of character to your home. It was made a hundred years ago for a family in China, and it looks the way it is now through years and years of use & wear, there is only one of each, and it’s limited in quantity. It is also very interesting to find out the history of every piece. You get to see how people made and used their furniture in the past, and how the design differs between the different provinces.” 

Being around since the 1970s, Just Anthony has since flourished into a reputable brand for Chinese antique furniture and accessories in Singapore. Priding themselves on honesty and reliability, they use their extensive knowledge and experience in sourcing unusual old furniture – big or small – and they ensure that the original patina (the process of decolourization) is kept wherever possible. 

Although antique furniture does have its charms and advantages, it is still only appreciated by a handful. When asked whether they feel antique furniture can be a way to be part of the sustainable movement, Danielle answers that it isn’t easy to do so in a big way. After all, the word “antique” hasn’t always had a good reputation. “On the demand side, not everyone likes antique furniture, whether it’s the design or due to superstitions,” Danielle says. In addition, supplies for antique furniture are limited due to the requirements of the furniture needing to be at least a hundred years of age. As such, it is getting increasingly difficult to find pieces that have not been damaged extensively with time. 

However, Just Anthony has thought of innovative ways to circumvent this issue. Upon finding antiques that are too damaged and beyond repair, Just Anthony doesn’t let the impeccable workmanship and hundred years of history go to waste. They have a team that takes apart the salvageable parts and carvings to try and make them into something suitable for modern living, such as mirror frames, cabinet doors or wall decorations. “Although we aren’t like other furniture shops in coming up with new designs or collections, this is how we try to ‘design’ something out of the incomplete but beautiful pieces that we find,” Danielle says. 

A mirror frame converted from an old salvaged carving from Guangdong.

In addition, Just Anthony also goes above and beyond in bringing in new Chinese furniture, as well as housing a team of skilled craftsmen to provide reproduction pieces, for those who have a love for antique designs, but may not be comfortable with buying the real deal. “We try to introduce new colours into our reproduction pieces to make them more updated. In recent years, we have modern Chinese pieces made in midnight blue, aqua, forest green for example,” she says. In addition, Danielle finds that many customers are actually very receptive to the new designs as they are more suitable for modern living. In their lineup of new Chinese furniture, items like new ceramic sculptures have very interesting & creative designs and their customers appreciate that these are still handmade. This has also opened a new market for them as people might still be more comfortable using new pieces rather than antiques. Preferring to view themselves not just as a Chinese antique shop but also a oriental lifestyle shop, the mixture of old and new allows them to offer the rich history of Chinese antiques and furniture to a wider market than before. 

Wooden Lacquer Sideboard in deco blue – new colours for the change in times.

Although synonyms for the word “antique” are “outdated” or “old-fashioned”, Just Anthony is far from that. They keep up with the times to engage their customer base with a 3D virtual showroom, and have a comprehensive website with constant updates on their new pieces, making it easier than ever for their loyal customers to find their favourite antique pieces instead of heading down to their physical shop. 

With the pandemic and travel restrictions, it has become harder for them to source for new pieces. However, Danielle mentions that their focus is still on their roots and their passion: antique furniture. “For antique furniture, I do not think they fit into any design trends, I would like to think that they never go out of style.”


All images courtesy of Just Anthony Pte Ltd. 

For more information on Just Anthony, visit https://www.justanthony.com/

More Photos: 

Using old ceramic ventilation tiles sourced from China and converting into table lamps (middle).
A repainted baby cradle from Gansu, which can be repurposed to hold a row of books or as an interesting display base.
Background: A large old carving converted into a full size standing mirror. Foreground: A French Vietnamese dining table leg with a client-customised marble table top.

4 October 2021

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