With an eye for clean lines, a well-worn patina, and iconic shapes, Charles Lavigna has gathered a collection of furniture called Switch Factory Antiques in his showroom in Bantam.
Charles Lavigna was a house painter for thirty years. His wife had been selling antiques in Newtown (and on the internet) for about 20 years, and she got him hooked. She collects more traditional pieces, and his niche is mid-century industrial and garden antiques. He started off as a vendor doing a lot of antiques shows, such as The Brimfield Antiques Show in Massachusetts (of which he still participates in). He also had a few pop-ups in New Preston over the last few years. Since January of this year, he has a opened a shop in the old Switch Factory building in Bantam. Using it as a showroom, he named the business Switch Factory Antiques and combined with online sales, the business has taken off.
The pieces Charles collects and sells are a mix of high quality and well-reputed names. He likes to refer to it as “Usable Industrial Design”. He loves drafting tables and carries a few in the shop. Each week, he brings new pieces into the showroom and online. His items tend to be more furniture than smalls.
As we visited his shop, we notived there was a wide range of items available, such as a 1780 engraving of the Vatican in Rome, placed above a mid-century server sideboard, a map of New York State (one of four 4 maps); vintage suitcases, a large wire bin that was a 1930’s trash pail; and a black wrought iron chair with original wooden arms with a hatch pattern on the back, designed by Maurizio Tempestini for Salterini. There was a beautiful French iron table with a green patina and a small oval top, from the 1900’s. There were 8 Bertoia Side Chairs—mesh chairs designed by Harry Bertoia, a designer from the 1950’s. These chairs are among the most recognized pieces of mid-century modern design. Two lounge chairs by Persival Lafer covered in a salmon leather color are from 1974 and were made in Brazil. There was a Chinese Chippendale faux-bois étagere from the late 60’s – early 70’s.
A pair of black leather chairs built in the 1950’s with walnut wooden arms and legs designed by Finn Juhl for Baker Furniture stood out, as did the Snail Table, a carved wooden base with a circular glass top, from the 70’s, designed by Federico Armijo, an artist from New Mexico. A plexi-glass bar cart from the 1970’s has two shelves and those iconic curved sides. All pieces would compliment a variety of home styles, whether country, modern, rustic, formal, or casual.
The showroom is spacious and inviting, a good place to linger and contemplate individual pieces in this unique collection. Lavigna joins a select group of home goods businesses in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut, adding to the area’s appeal for design afficionados.