What would you say to someone starting off in this style of design?
I don't think there is such a thing as a vintage design. Using vintage materials you can create very modern looking items. I think whatever your style, no matter how contemporary, you should definitely look into using vintage as a source of materials, you might be surprised at what you can create. There are also a lot more suppliers who sell used and un-used vintage then there used to be so it's really not that hard to find nowadays. Be prepared to pay more though and reflect that in the price of your items: people who want eco-friendly and vintage-made know they are buying something valuable and are willing to pay for it: you shouldn't try to compete with similar products made with new materials. Also advertise that you use vintage - it is not something to be ashamed of but something to be proud of.