A Spectacular Eye and Distinctive Slant on 20th-Century Design
A conversation with Judith Wolberink of Judith Wolberink Gallery
by Patricia Dobashi

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Judith Wolberink

The heart of 20th-century furniture and design beats the most ardently in Amsterdam, which has been the center of fine art for centuries. You'll remember from your art history classes that most of the Old Masters lived in this rich and acculturated Dutch city in which art and fine furniture have always been a requirement for a life well lived.
The breeding ground today for mid-century and modern design is expanding to stunning new showrooms and galleries, including that of Judith Wolberink's whose eponymous showroom is not just revered but depended upon by designers, modern design aficionados and museum collectors for Judith's extraordinary representation of furniture, lighting and objects of the 20th century, many of which are utterly spectacular, all of them of ultimate quality—and everything discovered by Wolberink's expert eye and uncanny sense for the absolute, perfect piece.

Mid-century multicolor triangular brass chandelier.

LUXPOP!: Tell me a bit about you—and how you fell in love with 20th-century furniture and design.

Judith Wolberink: I grew up with antiques. From as far back as I can remember, my parents would frequent antique markets and brocantes, mainly in Belgium and France, and I would accompany them. By the age of seven, I was already able to recognize the difference between Art Deco and Art Nouveau—and discover and identify my preference for certain styles.

Mid-century, Italian brass and velvet dining chairs.

LP!: And a little history of your business?

JW: I worked as an art dealer for a little over ten years when, due to many circumstances, I decided to follow my urge to be more creative, and focus on interiors and interesting designs without been overly constricted to periods and specific designers. I recognized a lot of dealers focused on Scandinavian mid century, but I discovered and developed a preference for twentieth-century Italian design and wanted to combine it with both my skill in the arts and the experience I developed as a dealer in vintage furniture and design.

Mid-century Italian game table.

Today, I have the greatest satisfaction in my work as an advisor to my clients in buying pieces for their homes and projects. It has taken many years of experience and study to achieve this status, but it is also the greatest joy. I love my work!

LP!: What distinguishes Judith Wolberink Gallery from other excellent 20th-century design galleries?

JW: I don't focus primarily on offering a large inventory, but prefer to select pieces that compliment and/or complete my clients' projects. My love and expertise is in advising clients and buying the right and exceptional pieces for their homes and projects. I am not monosynaptic in my choices—but quality is a must—and a little bit of fun is always a good ingredient. In addition, I work with contemporary artists and designers and can offer custom solutions. And always remember—good design and art does not always mean it has to be expensive or by a famous creator.

Mid-century Italian credenza with sliding door.

LP!: How has the market in your field changed since you started dealing?

JW: When I first started, anything vintage was hot. Lately, quality and rarity of the pieces have become more important. Collectors and the profession have matured.

Carlo Giorgi brass leaves floor lamp.
Another example of Wolberink's magnificent Italian selections: a Barovier e Toso reticello chandelier.

LP!: What pieces appeal most to your American clients?

JW: I find that a touch of glamour does it.

Dusted pink Venini bell lighting pendant.
Venetian glass Italian pendant by Archimede Seguso.

LP!: Is there a difference in what appeals to your American clients versus what appeals to your European clients?

JW: From my client base, I don't see a significant difference in choices between American and European clients, although American buyers tend to buy from the heart—not caring if a piece is made by a famous designer or not. That being said, I've noticed the French, too, will buy with their hearts.

Mid-century Italian lounge chair by Augusto Bozzi.

LP!: What has been your greatest triumph as a dealer?

JW: That I have been able to lay my hands on a few very rare pieces, which then went to some very ecstatic clients. I like to make people happy with that one special find.

Perla armchair Giulia Veronesi for ISA Bergamo.
Pair of Claudio Salocchi chairs.

LP!: What is your greatest professional regret?

JW: I was offered a complete Memphis Group interior, and I declined.

Room view of a Memphis-Milano Group design collection. Photo: Wikipedia.

LP!: If you could get any piece back, what would it be?

JW: There was one very rare Marcel Breuer desk lamp I maybe should not have sold.

Set of three mid-century Stilnovo-style wall sconces.

LP!: If you weren't a furniture and design dealer, what would you be?

JW: Good question! I guess it is in the blood, so I might be a sommelier.

View Judith Wolberink's inventory on RubyLUX