Q+A with Lucy Ryder Richardson Founder of Midcentury Modern Show

Today we are feeling a little sleek, stylish and ever so classic as we have been chatting to Lucy Ryder Richardson, one half of the duo (with Petra Curtis) who created the vintage and modern Midcentury Modern home shows and Midcentury East.

The shows are well established, superbly curated and highly esteemed as the place to be for novices and experts alike. As if hosting, and organising these events, and various pop-ups wasn’t enough, the team have built upon the ‘Modern Shows’ brand and created a travel blog Destination Modernism and sourcing service at The Modern Marketplace. At the Modern Marketplace you can shop or hire from their favourite designers and retailers, the best vintage dealers and a whole bunch of locations and people who not only live but love mid-century vintage and modern design.

Humblesticks shop

‘Not only do I admire their business success, curating talent and passion for the world of vintage and modern design, I love that they ooze style through their brand and could spend many happy hours just surfing through the website. It is a hot place to hang out in if you are interested in 20th and 21st Century architecture, style and design, and if you feel dreamy like me, then you too will probably love the beautiful products from Modern Shows – Go Vintage or Buy Modern directory otherwise known as The Modern Marketplace. As Orla Kiely says of their shows and website “Design heaven”.

Tell us a little about you, where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Buckinghamshire in the middle of the countryside and I now live in a 60s location house surrounded by trees, squirrels, foxes and parakeets in Dulwich woods.

What inspired you to choose your career ?

Petra and I just wanted to buy some lovely vintage furniture for our own 60s houses. We thought we would help everyone else while we were at it and sourced in the US and Denmark for our first Showhome. We had about 500 people turn up including people from the Tate Modern shop and a guy who wanted to decorate his entire Huf Haus. We sold out and thought we had better get a bigger venue.

You are super at your job, but if you could choose a different career, would you have run away with Cirque du Soleil, been an impressionist painter or something else ?

I have written a book I haven’t yet published. I read tarot cards, meditate and do reiki and sekhem healing so I suppose I would be a white witch novelist.

I’m buying you any piece of art or furniture (just because) what’s it going to be ?

Ooh that is so mean. It’s too hard. I still miss the set of 6 v early Arne Jacobsen Grand Prix chairs we sold 5 years ago. Probably the original prototype of the Cherner chair with arms. They are so beautiful. Although I think I would go mad with your loose budget and go for a piece of art.

Which products/ areas of your business are you most excited about ?

Our new travel blog Destination Modernism and sourcing service at The Modern Marketplace. We just helped the Tapas Brindisa group get some furniture together for their new place in Brixton. Saatchi & Saatchi is a former client and we help interior designers and architects too. We would like to do up more public spaces. Contact petra@modernshows.com (for midcentury and industry) and lucy@modernshows.com (for a mix of midcentury and contemporary).

Which are your favourite cultural/ creative places to visit (and take kids if you are in charge that day)?

For kids – The Guggenheim in Bilbao as it has the best kids playground next door. In London I love the Tate Modern, my kids would be happy running up and down that ramp all day long. The Henry Moore sculpture garden is a great one with kids too as there is so much land and we go to The Imperial War Museum a lot. My dad’s cousin Colin Ryder Richardson has a handmade red coat/ lifejacket in the children’s section that his Mum commissioned and told him to never take off. It saved him from dying at sea in the war. He was one of the only children left after the sinking of the Benares by a German submarine.

Which talented people or companies are you most impressed with at the moment?

AndNew, a furniture practice that is debuting at Midcentury Modern in Dulwich on March 16th 2014 and Louise Wilkinson stunning ceramics and fresh from doing up the V&A shop with her illustrations, she will be showing at Midmod too.

You’ve won a (paid) year off from work for being a ‘good citizen’ (& school for the kids) where do you take the family ?!

Skiing in the Alps, whale watching in Norway, swimming with wild dolphins anywhere, 6 weeks travelling around New Zealand, 2 months in India, a month travelling from Marrakech to Fez and the mountains in Morocco, a trip around Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali and South America. Oh and a week in Venice during the carnival…

The BIll Gates Foundation is giving you the role of ‘COO of changing the world for a day’ what campaigns/charity do you back ?

I think we need a HUGE DRIVE into worldwide equality for women so women’s charities get my vote for a day. It is appalling the way women are still treated in some countries. Even the unequal pay in this country is shameful. Controlling women by dumbing them down and mistreating them is not the answer. Empower us and use our talents for the good of the world and stop using Maggie Thatcher as an excuse not to put women in more top positions.

Which are your favourite shops/ or destinations for birthday treats?

Thorsten Van Elten, Places and Spaces and Twenty Twenty One. But I mainly stockpile presents for the year at our Midcentury Modern show. Its my favourite shop.

Where is your favourite spot for a long lunch with family & friends ?

Tapas Brindisa in Borough. The Paramount on Tottenham Court Rd. Moro in Exmouth Market, Farringdon, ToastED in Dulwich, The Hinds Head (Heston B’s pub) and my Mum’s house in Buckinghamshire.

Which 3 children’s books are you most fond of ?

Where the Wild Things Are, Iggy Peck architect, Pippi Longstocking.

What was the first record you bought, and what music are you listening to at the moment on spotify?

I think it was Gary Glitter’s album when I was 4 – for my sins!

Who is on your dream dinner party list ? Prince is in town, so we can arrange that if you’re keen!

I love Prince but he’s a bit shy for my party. My business partner Petra (she gets a bit mischievous with a few drinks inside her as does my best friend Kerry who would be there too), the Dalai Lama, Dita Von Teese to get the party started, Russell Crowe, Matthew McConaghey and Jared Leto, soul coaches Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, Keith Lemon, Aretha Franklin, I would want a famous psychic to be there so we could get in touch with Abe Lincoln, Einstein, Carl Jung, Ghandi, John Lennon, Marilyn, Elvis,  Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Charles and Ray Eames, photographer Julius Schulman (a lovely man) and Thomas Edison.


Can you recommend any friends, colleagues or other talented people who might be willing to share a secret or two ?

Just come to the show and ask around… our next show is on Sunday 16 March 2014 at Dulwich College. Best Wishes, Lucy

Thanks for your time Lucy. xo

To contact Lucy :

Lucy Ryder Richardson – 07875438188
Modern Shows – the show dates, the pop ups, shop, hire, go in association with ELLE DECORATION
The Modern Marketplace – the online shopping resource for the mid-century and modern home
Inside Modernism – our exciting and informative  behind the scenes blog in association with CAMPER
Destination Modernism – our new travel blog for the architecture-loving tourist in association with CAMPER