The Bruno Effect, a New Antiques Marketplace, Has Launched—and It’s Prioritizing Client-Dealer Relationships


Having good fortune in the design industry often stems from a foundation of great relationships—a theory perhaps best demonstrated by that of the dealer-client dynamic. When it comes to rare and one-of-a-kind pieces, reward comes to those at the top of an antique dealer’s call sheet.

In fact, it’s that invisible connection that new design marketplace The Bruno Effect seeks to capitalize on. Officially launched last week, the U.K.-based platform amasses hundreds of verified dealers on both sides of the Atlantic, collectively offering some 30,000 antique, vintage, and contemporary pieces. Though where buyers may normally expect to find a “Buy Now” button is instead a “Make an Enquiry” call to action, emphasizing the platform’s intent to give users the freedom to conduct business on their own terms—even if that means logging off and picking up the phone.

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The question is: Can eschewing quick-buy convenience in favor of the inquiry model lead to long-lasting returns?

Founder Carmine Bruno has more than 15 years of industry experience to believe so. Bruno began his career as a midcentury art dealer. In 2006, he went on to build out the antiques dealer roster on British antiques platform Online Galleries. When 1stDibs acquired the site in 2012—a deal that tripled the size of its U.K. dealer directory—Bruno became the managing director of 1stDibs International. (It’s also worth noting that Carmine Bruno has no relation to 1stDibs founder Michael Bruno.) Bruno stepped down from his managing director role in late 2019.

With his new venture, the creative entrepreneur envisions a product that can not only coexist with the fellow online hubs for antiques sales, but also complement them. “While many other marketplaces have chosen to anonymize dealers and monitor conversations to prevent transactions from taking place offline in order to take a commission, we put transparency, relationships, and—most importantly—dealers at the forefront,” Bruno tells AD PRO. “We’re aiming to [offer] a complementary experience that enables people to source on their own terms.”

The “Electrical” rug by Jean Yosef for Henzel Studio, available at Twentieth via The Bruno Effect.

Photography courtesy The Bruno Effect

Opting out of the transactional revenue model used by other platforms in the industry, The Bruno Effect will bill on a membership basis. Dealers who accept the site’s invitation to join will be charged a monthly fee, plus a one-time joining fee. The company plans to cap the marketplace size around 1,200 dealers to ensure a standard of excellence and help maintain quality control, a source at the company tells AD PRO.

Founding members include Ronald Phillips Antiques in the U.K., Todd Merrill Studio in the U.S., and many more spanning from Sweden to Italy, Ireland, and beyond. To celebrate the launch, The Bruno Effect has tapped American textile designer Schuyler Samperton and London interior designer Shalini Misra to curate an exclusive collection of favorite finds.

Consumers’ willingness to not only buy home furnishings online, but pay top dollar to do so, has been proven during the pandemic. The tolerance for high-end furniture and design transactions that start and end in just a few clicks continues to show growth, yet perhaps there’s still something to be said for getting on the phone. In such a case, The Bruno Effect will have its contacts ready.


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