Monday, November 22, 2010

The Story Behind "The End Of History"

I recently had the pleasure of officially meeting Stephen Saunders. He owns "The End of History", a unique antique glass and ceramic shop based in New York City. I admire that he is keeping an art alive through his passion. Here is a little about the story behind the boutique and how it got its name.

Antiques are in Stephen Saunders blood. He comes from a family of antique dealers in England. Mr. Saunders credits this as to what drives his "collections obsession". From the time he was a very small child he was taken to estate sales and local auction houses. When he was 8 years old he joined the Boy Scouts because they had the best rummage sale in his home town! By the age of 13 he was selling antiques found on the Isle of Wight to relatives in London who owned a shop near the Portabello Road antique market.

What started as a fascination with Chinese & Japanese porcelain from the 18th & 19th century turned into a rediscovery of the beauty of mid 20th century Scandinavian studio ceramics, themselves inspired by the royal collections of Sweden & Denmark of Asian ceramics, and the amazing work that came out of Italy in the 1950s and 60s, Murano glass and gold.

The name of the shop is taken from The End of History and the Last Man a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay "The End of History?", published in the international affairs journal The National Interest. The title of the shop, for Mr. Saunders, also means the end of a period when the dollar was king and American department stores were full of Scandinavian and Italian design. It was also a nod to the upcoming millennium, as he opened a shop full of 20th century design at the very end of the century in 1997.

Today, "The End of History" celebrates 13 years in business. Their merchandise can be seen in amazing homes, TV shows like Mad Men (one of my favorites), movies like Sex in the City and in many publications. I am inspired by the history represented by this collection of glass. The wonder I feel walking into his shop in New York City, I hope, can inspire generations to come.