RETRO MAN: Self-taught aesthete and part-time carpenter Mick Williams runs 20th Century Collectables. He has a particular fondness for pieces from the 1960s. Picture: Ryan OslandEASING into one of Danish designer Sigurd Ressell’s signature Falcon chairs, Mick Williams stumbles over superlatives for his vintage and industrial furniture collection.
“The ’60s are my favourite era by far – manufacturing and design was just beautiful, spacey and atomic-y, it was just a bright spot . . . it’s timeless,” says the Lower Belford-raised carpenter.
Williams’s love for the old was sparked in 2001, when he returned to Sydney from travels abroad and met his partner, Shanthi Herd.
“She had a lamp that was very retro, almost Mambo style, and I thought, ‘wow, that’s cool’,” said Williams.
In 2003, the couple moved to Newcastle, by which time Williams was collecting retro items – when not working on high-end construction projects.
“I ended up with too much so I started getting rid of it on eBay, and soon I realised I was doing pretty well from it,” he said.
Two years ago Williams launched his online business 20CC, or 20th Century Collectables, specialising in mid-century artefacts, plus earlier industrial numbers.
He also returned to carpentry to top up his income. Past jobs include building luxury pads for media executive Sam Chisholm and former tennis ace Pat Rafter.
But since establishing a showroom at the Centenary Antique Centre in the CBD a year ago, he’s whittled back the woodwork to focus on his happy obsession.
Williams has an eye for “good designer stuff”, including sleek Scandinavian furniture, but also appreciates quirkier pieces, from an imposing Hollywood motion-picture spotlight to a helicopter fuel tank from the Vietnam War.
“I’ve got a birthing table which I’m a bit shy to bring out, it’s really grisly . . . it looks like it belongs in a Marilyn Manson video,” he laughed.
Williams loves art deco, industrial lighting and Italian designers. A self-taught aesthete, he hopes to put down his trade tools once and for all to focus on all things vintage.
“I love the quality of the way things are built, coming from construction, that really does it for me.”
For more information go to 20cc杭州夜生活m.au or pop into Shop 27 at Centenary Antique Centre, Centenary Road, Newcastle.