David Juran, who died unexpectedly in July 2016 aged 54, was a London-born antiques dealer who ran Magus Antiques for nearly 30 years. With his wife Jane, he organised the stylish, thrice-yearly Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair in Battersea.
David Juran’s paternal grand-father and father were dealers in antique rugs in Prague; colleagues in the trade recall visiting his father’s first floor Bond Street carpet gallery in the early 1970's and “David, a 10-year old lad, leaping up and down on the piles of carpets… always such energy!” His father and grandfather came to London in 1954, via Palestine, after they left Prague fleeing from the Nazis. Alex met David’s mother, Karin, in Sweden, and when they married they set up home in London together.
Formal education was not David’s strong suit, rather he learnt from his experience of the world, and wasn’t afraid of hard graft. He went through a series of jobs as a young man, working in Dayville’s Ice Cream Parlour, McDonald’s, a fish and chip shop, a stall on Camden Market, and even as a DJ in Majorca where he was known as “Dave the Rave”, a skill which he retained for his children Ruth and Joey’s parties, and later, famously in Hawaiian shirted-style, at the 21st birthday party for the Decorative Fair in October 2006.
David joined his father’s business when he was 21, and began to learn all the skills he would need for his role in the antiques trade. “My first task,” said David in a recent media interview “was learning how to sweep without creating dust!” However, he absorbed an enormous amount about oriental rugs and carpets at the same time, and this field continued to be a great passion. He haunted Brick Lane looking for rugs, and bought other “bits and pieces” such as Victorian ceramics, took them to Camden Market and sold them there. He related a salutary experience on his learning curve when, one very early Sunday morning in Brick Lane, he spotted “an elegant Victorian chest of drawers which had been roughly painted”. Armed with a little money and no knowledge, he “moved in… £35 later I was the proud owner.” It turned out the veneers on the sides were missing and the top was a piece of heavily-glued Formica. Removing it proved almost impossible, but David managed to sell it to another dealer “who fancied a project. Zero profit, zero loss - but, a free lesson!” His adage and advice to those who asked was: never regret, just move on.
David believed dealing was in the blood, and not long after he met his wife Jane in 1991, he began to trade in antiques on his own behalf, employing his unique style, his ability to negotiate, his charm, and strength to carry a whole wardrobe on his own.
He was, according to his family, clever in the ways of the world; he worked hard and was always evolving into something new. David was, in their words, never someone who would be in the corner of the room. He was at the centre of things, wearing his trademark shorts and sandals, individual in his style and ways, singing along in his van to the musicals he loved on buying trips with his friends in the business. He was always aware of the opportunity to buy and to sell in his trade; Ruth and Joey remember once having their own toy cupboard sold while they were using it, and even the family sofa appearing on David’s stand at the Decorative Fair.
David and Jane moved their family to Moissac in South West France in 2004, where the children grew up and went to French schools, to enjoy a different quality of life from that in London. They loved the style of living; the long family meals, the games of cards, Connect Four and Jenga, and the friendliness of life in rural France.
It was whilst living in France that David discovered the joys of skiing; he progressed from the local Pyrenean ski stations to the Alps, and was passionate about it, despite his bad leg and not always being super fit. He also loved Majorca and spending time on his boat, taking friends and family out for lunches at beach restaurants, where you had to swim from the boat to the restaurant - and back again on a full stomach, and plenty of wine - to earn your meal.
Based in France, David could more readily spend time buying stock at French fairs. He happily confessed: “Buying is a passion. My family and colleagues call it obsession. I travel to as many fairs across Europe as my marriage allows.” David exhibited for more than 20 years at the Battersea Decorative Fair. He believed in its strength as a great event, saying, “You’d have to go a long way to find a harder-working group of dealers.” In January 2009 he and Jane took over the running of the Fair from Patricia Harvey, who had launched it in 1985 with her husband Ralph. Although the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair was the vision of Patricia Harvey (whom David had known since his school days), David understood completely its unique approach to presentation, its special spirit and relaxed ways, which he thoughtfully augmented and built upon in the past eight years, cementing its reputation not only as one of the most successful large fairs in the UK, but also the friendliest.
David and Jane moved back to North London in 2014 as the children entered higher education, and they began to enjoy long-distance holidays and travel, especially to Asia, which gave David great inspiration; he particularly loved the sights, sounds and tastes of India, and being amongst new cultures and in new places.
When once asked, light-heartedly, what single thing might improve the quality of his life, his reply was: “A personal chef would tick a lot of boxes, or possibly a time travel machine, so I could zoom across Europe and arrive instantly at fairs!”
When the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair celebrated its 30th anniversary in October 2015, it was David who booked the live music, demanding cheerful tunes from a swing band, Jersey Boys and Abba tribute acts. His big-heartedness and zest for life were expressed at this event, which was as loud as it was joyous. The drinks flowed, the dancing went on late – he wanted everyone to have fun.
David encouraged and supported from the outset the Antiques Young Guns initiative, offering the first year’s Awards an event venue, and subsequently exhibition space at the Decorative Fair. As he said himself, one of the things he loved best about the trade was “the energy that the new generation brings to the business. Young buyers dictate the look and we, as dealers, need to remain adaptable to change, or sink without trace.” Many others found themselves recipients of David’s kindness, loyalty and generosity.
David leaves his wife Jane, children Ruth and Joey, his greatest joy, who are both studying at University, his mother Karin, and his sister Helen and her family.
Jane Juran is assuming the mantle of organiser of The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fairs, which will continue, “business as usual”, with the full support of the Harvey (Management Services) Ltd team, just as David would have wished.