Qadeem Antiques is a London-based business that specialises in unique antique and vintage décor and collectibles from across the Islamic world. Its curated selection of Timeless Islamic Art brings the finest tradition of craftsmanship from across the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, Persia and India.
We caught up with the founder of Qadeem Antiques to learn about the collecting landscape, curating Islamic artefacts and advice on investing in antiques.
What was the motivation and intention behind Qadeem Antiques?
I’ve had a lifelong passion for Islamic history, art and architecture. Antiques blend history and art perfectly, giving us a tangible feel of the past, and I’m always amazed by the intricate hand-crafted technique that goes into them. But when I started looking around to collect antiques for myself in the UK, I found that they were confined to expensive dealers, and meant for rich collectors, rather than everyday art lovers like me.
In starting the business, therefore, my philosophy was simple: to take Islamic antiques from being viewed as solely for high-brow collectors and museums, to being a craft that everyone can have affordable access to, in order to beautify their homes. To do this, I knew I would have to curate carefully to offer a selection at the right price point for a wider audience, and would need to provide convenient online access to purchase.
Did you undergo any formal training to specialise in unique antique and vintage décor and collectibles from across the Islamic world?
My background is technical, and I’ve led a professional career that couldn’t be more different!
But outside work, I’ve always had a strong interest in Islamic history, art & architecture, and have been reading around these for as long as I can remember. This has been bolstered by my extensive travel across Andalucia, North Africa, Turkey, Middle East and South Asia. I’ve built up a personal collection of Islamic art and antiques, and by researching around each item and networking with experts, I’ve built up a good base of knowledge in the space.
However, on my bucket list remains the intention to undertake an MA in the History of Islamic Art & Architecture, some time soon!
How do you select and curate your collection?
I’ve built up a considerable network, including through my travels, and select items from a variety of sources. My objective is to find unique items generally not available on the tourist trail, that balance quality of craft, price point and vintage. As a result, my selection generally covers antiques up to 200 years old, rather than the much older and expensive items found in auctions and museums.
Your goal is to make Islamic antiques affordable to a wide audience – can you tell us more about why this is important to you?
I believe that art should be accessible to everyone, not just professional collectors, dealers and museums. So I’m keen to help expand the access to Islamic antiques to all art lovers.
What are some of your most favourite objects in your collection?
I’ll try to pick a handful of items that reflect the geographic and craft range in the collection.
Antique Islamic Middle East brass mosque lamp with cutwork calligraphy. The outer metal casing is intricately hand-crafted with open cutwork lines of calligraphy from the Quranic 'Throne Verse' prayer. The inner glass casing has alternating hues for each verse line, and can be illuminated by candle or lamp within. This is a rare example of Middle Eastern metal and glasswork, likely from Egypt or Syria, late 19th century.
Antique Hispano-Moresque Islamic Mediterranean lustre charger.
This is a rare Hispano-Moresque charger from Spain or Italy, with lustre and intricate patterning and motifs in the Andalucian Islamic / Christian style. Such ceramic pottery was perfected during the period of the Arabs in Spain, and the lustre tradition continued for centuries thereafter, across the Mediterranean. Late 19th century.
Vintage Persian composite painting by Ahmad Omoumi in khatam frame.
A composite painting by famous Persian Miniature artist Ahmad Omoumi of Isfahan (recipient of the Shah's medal). It shows an angel, Peri, riding a composite camel made up of people and skulls, with mythical figures surrounding it in procession. Dated 1958. Set in a handmade wooden Khatam frame, comprising micro-mosaic inlay in wood.
Antique Anglo-Indian Islamic bone and ebony inlay dressing table.
Anglo-Indian dressing table made in Hoshiarpur, India, the traditional centre for high quality inlay furniture. Made of Shisham (Indian Rosewood) with intricately inlaid animal bone, ebony and brass in detailed floral and geometric designs. Featuring working draws and mirror, with Victorian tiles either side, this would have been made to order for its owners in the late 19th century.
Antique Sino-Islamic bronze incense burner.
Small Islamic bronze incense burner / censer, from China, delicately engraved with the Arabic Shahadah (profession of faith) on two sides. Comprises two handles and four feet, in traditional Chinese style, and signed with mark on base. Items like this reflect the ancient Muslim presence in China.
Can you share your thoughts on the antique art market and the space Islamic artefacts holds?
In the West, I feel that Islamic antiques are under-represented in mainstream art, media and antique outlets. So, whilst mainstream vintage and antique décor has greatly expanded its appeal and availability during the last decade, with multiple online platforms opening up, these don’t cater as much for Islamic antiques.
Which I think is a shame, as there is much to admire for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Ironically in fact, you only need go back to the Victorian era in the UK to see that there was an immense interest in Islamic art and antiques amongst the mainstream population. Even today, the prevalence of oriental carpets and rugs in people’s homes is testimony to this.
What are your future aspirations with Qadeem Antiques?
In the short term, I’m looking to set up my own website to house the collection (currently we only sell through other platforms such as Vinterior).
Longer term, I would love to morph into a one-stop shop for Islamic antiques, that houses items from a wider group of sellers, to provide customers with more choice. This would potentially be focused not just on the UK, but wider.
For anyone looking to invest in Islamic antiques, what advice would you give?
My advice would be to start your collection modestly, in terms of investment, and to view each item as an opportunity to learn more about the craft and history. And to also look to purchase antiques when you next travel, but be careful that they’re genuine antiques rather than the mass tourism stuff made nowadays. But ultimately, everything you collect should be a piece of décor that can beautify your home.
What does the future of Islamic art, heritage and culture look like to you?
I think that Islamic art has an enduring appeal that cuts across geography and cultures. And this is no coincidence, as it has itself evolved over centuries, and been inspired by cultures both within and outside the Muslim world. With the Islamic world’s central role in the Silk Route, art and culture were exchanged as much as trade.
And I think that, as lovers of Islamic art, we’re in a great position to promote it as an antidote to the negative imagery too often associated with that part of the world. That’s one of the reasons why I think platforms such as Bayt Al Fann are key going forward. And I hope my venture can also contribute in a small way.
For more information checkout:
Website on Vinterior: https://www.vinterior.co/sellers/qadeem-antiques
Instagram: @qadeem_antiques (https://www.instagram.com/qadeem_antiques)
Pinterest: @qadeem_antiques (https://www.pinterest.co.uk/qadeem_antiques)
The views of the artists, authors and writers who contribute to Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.