'Less is more' as 20th Century Cincinnati returns with sisters at the helm

The weekend of February 25, the 20th Century Cincinnati vintage furnishing expo returns to the Sharonville Convention Center.

20th Century Cincinnati is the region’s premier, annual retrospective of vintage modern design. There is a large representation of mid-century design and ephemera, but the event also welcomes exhibitors representing Art Deco, Arts & Crafts, Machine Age, and Op/Pop styles.

The event is in its 28th year, and is now under the ownership of sisters Jenni and Jess Button. The Buttons grew up outside of Dayton, Ohio. Their parents own an estate sale company and have participated in the 20th Century Cincinnati event as vendors. That’s how they first met Bruce Metzger, the event’s previous owner and promoter.

“Our dad introduced us to Bruce,” Jess explains, “and we chatted about working together in the context of marketing assistance.”

Jess and her sister own Vine Collaborative, a digital marketing agency that helps small businesses with brand strategy and web design. Jess has a background in event production and promotion and lives in Blue Ash. Jenni has recently returned to the Dayton area from Chicago, where she was working as an art dealer.

Their conversations with Metzger evolved and he wondered if the sisters were interested in taking over the show.

Jess explains: “[Metzger] had been trying to find the right opportunity to retire, and when he proposed taking over the show completely, things just kind of lined up for us all. It’s been really great working with him and getting to know him. He’s built an incredible legacy with this show, and we’re truly honored to be entrusted with its future.”

The sisters have years of experience attending the show and working at it with their family. They will now be running the show, but they looking forward to it for personal reasons, too. They are both fans of modern design.

“Modern design is so timeless because of its clean lines,” Jenni Button says “Mies van der Rohe gave us the quote ‘less is more,’ and there’s certainly something to be said for the understated elegance of mid-century modern design.”

“I’m currently in the midst of a full remodel of a mid-century A-frame,” she continues, “so the list of items that excite me is quite extensive! I’m mostly interested in finding a killer floor lamp this year.”

“For me personally,” adds Jess, “the part I enjoy the most is seeing familiar faces and reconnecting with dealers and friends. I talk to people every week who have attended this show for years.”

Plan your visit
This year’s event takes place on February 25 and 26, from 11 am-5pm and features over 50 vendors across more than 20,000 square feet of exhibition space. Tickets are $10 and include attendance on both days. Patrons under 18 are free and there is a special Java preview at 9 am on Saturday for an extra $20. As in previous years, guests can also view a special educational exhibit in the hallway of the exhibit hall throughout the weekend. This year’s exhibit features the work of interior designer, architect, and artist Edgar Sforzina. Sforzina’s granddaughter, Denise E. Allen, will join 20th Century Cincinnati at 10 am on Sunday for a special presentation on the subject of her grandfather’s designs and their significance in the modernist movement.

Purchase your tickets to 20th Century Cincinnati here.
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Liz McEwan is a proud wife, mama, urbanite, musician and blogger. Follow her at The Walking Green and on twitter at @thewalkinggreen.