Roberto Soto

Cinco Preguntas: Roberto Soto with San Antonio Furniture Finders

February 16, 2023 at 9:33pm

The collection of mid-century modern (MCM) furniture started being popular again in the late 1990s. Now in 2023, instead of having a stark look — like in the show Mad Men — the styling of MCM furniture tends to have the addition of cozy elements such as plants and bohemian accents. 

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Roberto Soto with his daughter, Bela, as they travel to find new MCM pieces for his showroom.

Roberto Soto, of San Antonio Furniture Finders, began observing the demand for mid-century antiques well before he opened his showroom. Regarding the demand for MCM furniture, he stated, 

“I feel that it is definitely still on an upward growth slope but maybe not as fast as before, but still climbing. The exciting part is that within MCM there are so many varieties of styles that it's going to continue on this trend as lovers and collectors alike of this design period continue to evolve and adjust their collections through varying design styles of the period.”

We asked Soto about the furniture he looks for in his travels and how he seeks to bring them back to life.

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MiSA:  What are some of the features in mid-century modern furniture that are in need of the most repair?  

RS:  Veneer repairs and upholstery repairs are equally common but each has its challenges. Small veneer repairs are difficult when it comes to color matching. Upholstery is one of my favorite and least favorite repairs. I truly have an appreciation for vintage fabrics, colors and patterns. Finding comparable ones are tricky. At the same time, I enjoy these repairs as it allows one to be creative with the repair.

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MiSA:  What sort of fabrics are you replacing and with what kind of modern fabrics?

RS:  Fabrics on dining chairs are most commonly changed but normally not difficult. Fabric on sofas and lounge cushions are most common. Great color, patterned and textured tweeds and velvets are the most difficult to have to replace as there were so many great fabric designs of the period. There are still some great companies like Knoll Textiles that make/provide high-quality fabric options in a variety of colors, textures and patterns.

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MiSA:  What was the most damaged piece that you have taken on and what did it take to restore it?

RS:  One of the most damaged pieces was a freestanding wall unit with a credenza, legs and shelves that actually sit in my entryway now. This was a piece I found in Illinois on one of my trips. I was purchasing some other furniture and spotted the pieces of this one scattered around. Lots of veneer issues, offset base, broken brackets and dried-out wood throughout. This piece got full sections of veneer restored, some filling, new additions to the wooden brackets and a full refinish to the entire piece. It was a full 180-degree turn for this rare wall unit.

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MiSA:  What is an example of the latest piece that you had restored?

RS:  One of the latest pieces we restored, is actually still in the process. We came across an amazing Hans Wegner Daybed which needed a full restoration. It had dried-out wood and a 1-inch gouge on the frame and also needed new upholstery. Wood details have been completed and it is now ready for its new Knoll fabric and off to Upholstery. It should be ready soon. 

MiSA:  What is another interesting fact about restoring furniture from this time period?

RS: One thing that I find interesting is the huge misconception of the idea that this type of furniture is “solid wood” and the loose use of the term. Having so much of the furniture being veneer creates a world of difficulty/tedious repairs on this period's furniture. It is totally worth it though. 

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