The hunt for antiques still makes Mark Sage’s heart skip a beat. “I love to see how people lived, the things they had,” he says. For 22 years, he’s made a living scouting out weird, beautiful, and unusual European furniture and curiosities. But he found that, as a business model, one-of-a-kind pieces have their limits. “Antiques are my first love,” he says, “but they aren’t scalable.” So, in 2006, he launched Bobo Intriguing Objects, his own line of new furniture built with old materials—chandeliers made of vintage wine barrels, baker’s cabinets with windows rescued from crumbling factories—and expertly crafted antique reproductions. (Sage dislikes the term “reproduction,” but make no mistake, they are just that.) Top designers have been sourcing from Sage for years, but until now, his collection has been available only to the trade.
In December, Sage opened his first retail store in a former Westside industrial space recently transformed by Selig into a multiuse development dubbed the Works. He offers antiques, Bobo’s own line, and decor from small brands around the world. These new finds are a delight—Swedish ceramics, Japanese linens, Danish candles you trim straight from the rope—all available in Atlanta for the first time. Designers on staff can provide consultations, and the assortment ranges from custom upholstery and hand-woven Indian rugs to Sage’s own new line of scented candles. Despite the pandemic, antiques continue to arrive. Sage’s pickers in Europe are constantly video calling from old barns and shuttered chateaux. He cares little for what collectors call “provenance.” Louis XVI, Chippendale, Queen Anne, who cares? He goes for patina, proportion, scale, backstories.
If you sense a whiff of Restoration Hardware, you’re not mistaken. Sage designs a private label for the brand. Bobo’s own 600 pieces, which range from lighting to sofas to tabletop items, are all modeled after antiques. Sage admits they may not have the same charming crustiness as old finds, but he tries to keep a “one-off feel” by using reclaimed materials and aging techniques (like a pickling process for stone). Plus, Bobo versions can cost less than half the price of true antiques.
In the past, Sage’s showrooms have been known for revelry, with live music and flowing booze. He still hopes to throw a true grand opening in 2021.
This article appears in our April 2021 issue.