From Perriand to Prouvée, Michael Bargo’s Instagram account is a charming and unpretentious education in the greats, writes Milly Burroughs
“Instagram started as a fun thing but it’s basically become my constant moodboard or journal,” explains interior designer and antique furniture dealer Michael Bargo. “I work on it every day – first thing in the morning, with my coffee – looking through books and researching designers based on a project I’m working on or a mood that I have.”
The New York-based creative’s feed is a curated collection of snapshots capturing the glory days of 20th-century furniture design, seamlessly interrupted by elegant shots of his surroundings. While Bargo is an interior designer by education and trade, his approach to the creative world is one laced with hands-on entrepreneurship and has seen him venture into diverse corners of his industry, including the opening of his own gallery space in Chinatown. Having spent some years working for a New York firm, and later setting up his own business, three years ago Bargo began dealing antiques to appease his love of procurement.
“It just sort of happened because I have a compulsive shopping disease,” he explains. “I was buying tons of stuff at auctions and flea markets and travelling around. It just got to the point where I had so much inventory that I was selling it to clients for projects but then realised I had plenty left that I could be selling to architects, designers and friends of mine.” To begin with, he was dealing these pieces out of his apartment. “I would rotate the furniture out of the space every few months as things sold, and a lot of friends would come over and see the pieces and buy them. As that sort of grew into something more significant I decided to open an actual commercial space, which has been really fun and exciting.”
Where many design connoisseurs can be critical of digital curation and consumption, Bargo has experienced first-hand the opportunities it can create, and acknowledges how it caters to those who like to stay busy. “Through Instagram I started doing styling with Architectural Digest and doing a lot of photo shoots with them. It’s allowed me to be in the world of interiors but in different ways, instead of one singular path. It’s good for me personally because I tend to be all over the place, I don’t like to focus too much; it’s more stimulating and entertaining for me if I can do several different things.”
Speaking to Bargo, whose warm and gracious demeanour is testament to his open-minded approach to antiquated worlds, it is apparent that he sees accessibility and education as the main benefits of social media. “While my focus and interests have always been more on the vintage and antiques side of things, I think through things like Instagram people have become more knowledgeable of that world, and it’s opened it up.”
According to the designer, this increase in interest is helping to redefine how we experience design history. “At Salone del Mobile this year Villa Borsani was open to the public, even though typically shows like Salone are focused on contemporary designers and what’s new and upcoming for the future – but now there’s a huge interest in that 20th-century design world. For me that’s what’s exciting, people have much more knowledge and interest.” From Perriand to Prouvée, Bargo’s unpretentious feed is an education in the greats and a charming map of the modern day design landscape’s journey.