Second hand design is growing visibly. Most interested? Gen Z and Millennials, an audience that seems further away from design than ever. And instead…

We decided not to call it pre-loved, to avoid the "ready meal" effect and to cultivate the difficult art of using words sparingly. Let's call it by its real name: second-hand design. Or third, fourth, tenth: it doesn't matter. The point is that it is a rapidly growing reality and is colonizing the Italian web, thanks to a giant like Catawiki and the renewed interest in the home.

Is there a second-hand design market in Italy?

We asked ourselves if there is a design second hand market in Italy and the answer is: yes, it exists, it is alive and well and rapidly expanding. Why is this data interesting? Because Catawiki's 2020 report says that 25% of its buyers are Millennial and the fastest growing generational segment, + 45% in 2020, it is that of Gen Z. An audience that is under the age of twenty-five and that through the discovery of historical or rare second-hand, learns what design is.

Young people like the second hand

It seems little, but it is not at all. The real problem of many design brands is in fact to reach and thrill the youngest. The Scandinavians are better at this, thanks to a more focused communication, a more casual use of social networks and a pricing policy devoted to a downshifting that carefully takes care of the value/quality balance.

It could be argued that a market less willing to spend large sums is not an interesting market. But design freak is not born. One becomes one out of curiosity, through spontaneous exposure to design, out of education. A work of cultural dissemination that, in practice, only companies can do through their products and their designers.

Communicating second hand design

Communication is therefore essential to create new connaisseurs , people who know how to recognize the reasons for the project. A work of education and dissemination that more or less specialized marketplaces do involuntarily thanks to massive investments on social networks. The image of a 1950s sideboard appears between one post and the next and the curious 30-year-old, "well traveled and well educated" (is the obvious description of the average second-hand customer for a DOXA of 2018) is hooked.

He discovers a world, gets information, learns, buys the books of Mari, Munari, Sottsass and finally wins a sofa Lido of Memphis, designed by Michele De Lucchi in 1975, and no longer in production, for 3 thousand euros. Or a Tube Chair by Joe Colombo for 2,700 euro. He has become an enthusiast, the potential customer of the big made in Italy brands.

The transition from second hand to the new is not obvious, but certainly more probable if the public can understand the word 'design' - intelligent, beautiful, functional, long-lasting and sustainable - and no longer confuses it with 'style' or with 'do it strange'.

Second hand numbers

Some other data on the second hand market, from the Second hand economy observatory of DOXA. Twenty-three million Italians bought second-hand items in 2020 , for a total turnover of 23 billion euros. There is no data focused on design and only some marketplaces have an authentication and evaluation service (Catawiki and Deesup), but the most popular market segment is Home and Person with 67% of the shares. As if to say that fashion and furniture share a turnover of 15 billion and a half euros.

The reasons for so much interest? 50% of people think it is a way to give things more value, 48% think it is a sustainable choice, 55% of Gen Z say it is a smart and current choice. They also understood this well from Vitra and Artek, who have been working on second hand for some time with dedicated sales points and, above all, with constant monitoring of their own used market.

Pre and post loved

All that remains is to understand what to do with the interest that people show for quality design at affordable prices. About the passion and knowledge they show in participating in online auctions and the patience with which they go through tons of furniture, lovingly choosing a piece of design or an old cupboard in real veneer from the 1950s. But something tells us that pre-loved is also post-loved: good news for the future of the project.