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George Home: More Impeccable Taste In Washington Depot

By Joseph Montebello

Anyone who knows Bruce Glickman, Wilson Henley and Betsey Nestler is aware that they each have a discerning eye and a magic touch when it comes to home furnishings and design. George Home in Washington Depot, Conn. simply reconfirms that fact.

Glickman and Henley previously owned Duane in New York City and produced a line of furniture called Duane Modern, which was sold at the Interior Design Building in New York. Many of those pieces are now offered at George Home. Years ago, the three partners had a shop in New Preston called Betsey and Duane. Although it closed, the three friends, who have known each other for more than 20 years, knew one day they would have another shop.

Wilson Henley, Bruce Glickman and Betsey Nestler

“Bruce and I had been talking to Betsy about it for years,” says Henley. “We would go off shopping for our new venture — we called it our imaginary store — for years. And then it all came together.

“It was a question of finding the right space,” he continues. “When we closed Duane and moved to Washington full time, we knew we wanted to be part of the community and that the Depot would be our choice of location.”

When the white clapboard building on Titus Road came up for rent, the three agreed that they’d found the perfect spot. The Depot, where retail was dormant for several years, has come to life recently, thanks to several retailers who have joined George Home in opening stores.

Since its official opening in July, George Home has become the go-to place to find a well-selected and inspired global mix of mid-century modern, antique and contemporary furniture, baskets, fine soaps, unusual objects, art, accessories, lighting and unique tabletop items, meticulously curated by its three owners.

“We share the same vision of design,” explains Henley. “We call it a kind of sophisticated rusticity, a palette of similar neutral tones, simple and uncalculated. Items that would fit into any décor.”

The light-filled, 1800-square-foot shop is set up with three distinct areas: the Living Room, which displays bigger piece of furniture, art and lighting; the Library, which has dark walls, deep sofas and a moodier feel; and the Marketplace, chock full of contemporary finds from small antique items to perfect hostess gifts and creative accessories. In addition, the Design Studio at George Home offers full interior design services.

“We feel very fortunate to have found this space and to have been welcomed into the Litchfield County design community,” says Henley. “So many talented people live in this area and we have been getting customers from New Canaan and as far as Boston.”

All photos courtesy George Home

That’s because word has spread quickly that George Home is the place to find an item to complete or complement the decor of a room or to inspire a total home redesign.

As for the name, it eluded the designers at first.

“We went through a lot of names,” says Glickman. “We considered Titus for the name of the road. Then a friend suggested George, and it suddenly clicked.” And yes, there are some items that pay homage to the father of our country.

George Home and The Design Studio @ George Home
4 Titus Road, Washington Depot, CT
(860) 868-0323
Thursday-Monday 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Sunday noon - 4 p.m.
(and by appointment)

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/19/18 at 01:12 PM • Permalink

The RuraList: 6 Wintertime Warmers

By Amy Krzanik

While the temperatures continue to be frigid, the concept of hygge is real in the Rural Intelligence region. We’ve scoured the shops to find warm and comfy items to help you make it through — and perhaps even enjoy — this time of year.

1. Whether you’re going out or staying in, Hammertown in Rhinebeck, Pine Plains and Great Barrington, wants you to do it in style. For voyages out, keep cozy with a versatile cashmere poncho ($98). If you’re staying in, snuggle on the couch under a wool, cashmere or faux fur throw ($165-$215).
3201 Route 199
Pine Plains, NY
(518) 398-7075

6420 Montgomery Street
Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 876-1450

15 Bridge Street
Great Barrington, MA
(413) 528-7766

2. Fleece is ubiquitous in the wintertime Northeast, but the material doesn’t only come in jackets. At Shooz in Lenox, Mass., you can find fleece-lined NIKIBIKI leggings ($22). They’re seamless, which means no digging into your sides, so you can wear them all day under pants or even a skirt if you’re that bold.
44 Housatonic Street
Lenox, MA
(413) 637-1118

3. But what about my dry skin?” I hear you asking. Terston in Kent, Conn. has got you covered, literally. They carry the Laurmé line of facial creams, serums and hydrating toners ($34-$45). Created in California by a women whose sister’s skin was extremely irritated by cancer treatments, the entire line is vegan and contains no parabens, sulfates, phthalates or fragrances.
27 North Main Street
Kent, CT
(860) 927-1255

4. Over at Dory & Ginger in Pittsfield, Mass. they know that not all people are hat people, even when the weather is at its coldest. The store, adjacent to Hotel on North, stocks cable-knit, adjustable earmuffs ($30). The muffs are made in and help support the women of Nepal.
299 North Street
Pittsfield, MA
(413) 553-4200

5. Workshop on the Green in Litchfield, Conn. is known for carrying down and faux-down jackets, and warm hats and gloves, but they have a can’t-miss sale going on right now on all UGG items, a brand synonymous with comfort. Women’s slippers, socks, lounge pants and pajamas, bathrobes, sweatpants and hoodies, throws and travel sets are half off the retail prices of $50-$120.
10 Cobble Court
Litchfield, CT
(860) 567-0544

6. If you’re reading this article from bed because you’re feeling under the weather, these two tinctures from Germantown’s Field Apothecary might help. Besides the main ingredient, their Elderberry Cough Syrup ($24) also contains soothing honey, hyssop, black cherry bark, horehound and other herbs. Their Cold, Flu & Virus Support ($22) contains even more good stuff to get and keep you going until spring. You don’t even have to leave your bed to order them.
245 Main Street
Germantown, NY
(518) 537-3250

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 01/16/18 at 11:53 AM • Permalink

Woodworker Peter Superti’s Craftsmanship Leads The Design

By Jamie Larson

Craftsmanship and design, form and function, vision and execution: the successful balance of these convergent concepts is what makes the furniture of local woodworker Peter Superti so alluring. His master trick? He does it all by hand. No shortcuts.

“I have a certain philosophy,” said Superti, who lives in Hudson. “I construct decoration, I don’t decorate construction. I don’t use a computer. I’m strictly pencil and ruler. To me, a design from a computer is lifeless.”

We found him toiling away alone on a frigid morning in his humble old, woodstove-heated barn in Red Hook, New York, set to work on some excellent lengths of wood. His most famous client is the mother of performance art and part-time local Marina Abramovic. He has built a number of pieces for her including ladders with knives for rungs, beds under suspended giant crystals, and the table and chairs where she iconically sat and stared at visitors during her career retrospective, “The Artist is Present.”

Abramovic has been catching some heat lately for backing out of her long-awaited center in Hudson. Superti shrugs off the relatively lukewarm criticism. He says its been personally and artistically rewarding to spend time with the unique artist, who once flew him down to Brazil to help hand select huge crystals.

“She was looking for a fabricator,” he said, noting that the pieces he makes for her are Abramovic’s ideas and aesthetics, but that he gives input on weight and balance. “On our first phone call she said, ‘You and I will be working together for a long, long time.’ I love a challenge. It keeps the work alive and helps me look at objects in different ways.”

But the pieces he’s made, and is making, for other clients are just as captivating. His work is sturdy without feeling clunky, and the expertise of his joinery and finish are as integral to the success of a piece as any artistic flourish. 

He’s currently building an entire staircase for a Manhattan loft. The handmade model in his studio is itself a work of art. He’s also working on the details in the Germantown home of Barry Hardwood, the curator of decorative arts at the Brooklyn Museum. For Hardwood, Superti is very specifically recreating decorative art elements for the home in the late 19th-century British style.

Superti grew up in Queens, the son of a printer who specialized in manual typesetting. His grandfather was also a printer who came from a long line of Italian tailors. The mix of art and trade, it seems, is in his blood.

“The whole concept of building things by hand was instilled in me at an early age,” he said. “I was always making stuff, taking things apart to see how they worked and putting them back together.”

After working as a laborer in Vermont for the first half of the ‘70s, he realized what he truly wanted to do was build furniture. He attended the Program for Artistry at Boston University and later apprenticed under British master woodworker David Powell in Vermont, who passed along a focus on hand tools from his teacher, the extremely influential Edward Barnsley.

“First I do a drawing, then a model,” Superti said. “When you can see the piece, it makes it easier for the client to understand and I’ve got it all worked out before I even start building.”

As his furniture began to get noticed, he built industry relationships in NYC and did restoration and reconstruction work on a diverse array of historically significant decorative art. His hands-on experience has left a mark on his own style, which is lovingly referential yet unmistakably original.

“My designs are influenced by centuries of history and construction,” he said. “There used to be distinct periods in design but you don’t really see that any more. But a lot of those periods can still be explored.”

A single piece by Superti can exhibit the stylistic influence of Danish modern, minimalism, arts and crafts and even Japanese design in quiet and controlled ways.

“You use the materials to create the design,” he said, noting that the crystal bed is fantastical but still a functional item. “The fineness of how a piece is constructed is part of the design. No matter what, furniture can’t be constructed poorly.”

When your designs are theoretical and made real in a computer program and the pieces are cut by machines, everything, even the most original ideas, comes out looking like Ikea, Superti explained. “It’s too perfect; it lacks warmth. It lacks that tiny bit of imperfection that the hand makes that gives the piece its soul.”

He’s so busy with commission work that he doesn’t have gallery shows, and rarely sells his work in shop, as he doesn’t really like producing the same thing over and over. As creative as his customers let him be, he says he’s looking forward to clearing a few months off the calendar to work on a half dozen new ideas for which he hasn’t had time. We can only imagine what his mind and hands will produce when truly left to their own devices.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/02/18 at 09:19 AM • Permalink

The Art Of Giving: RI’s Annual Holiday Gift Guide

Where we live, you don’t have to travel very far to find unique gifts that are sure to please and impress. Whether you’re looking for a memorable “thank you” for a holiday party host, or something local to send to a friend or family member far away, choose from our list of artisanal, homegrown goodies and don’t forget to include a card that reads “from the RI region with love.”


The peonies used in Three Meadows Spirits’ Peony Vodka come directly from Sugar Maple Farm in Millerton, owned by the company’s founder, Leslie Farhangi. Her 18-month-old company and its boutique brand won a “best of” award this year from Hudson Valley Magazine. Wondering how to pair a flower-infused vodka? The spirit’s website offers recipes including the “Summer Frolic” and the “Bitter End.” Find your own bottle, or just a drink, at regional stores and restaurants.

The small batch jelly and preserves of Craryville’s les collines are locally sourced from the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires. The jewel-toned preserves make beautiful gifts for fans of both the savory and the sweet, with recommendations for use as a classic toast topping, but also on cheese boards, with meat or fish. Upcoming tastings with les collines include this Friday, Dec. 8 at the Indian Mountain Holiday Marketplace in Lakeville from 2-6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9 at Hillsdale General Store from 1-2:30 p.m., Dec. 14 at Sierra Lily in Poughkeepsie from 4-7 p.m. and Dec. 16 at the Berkshire Grown Holiday Market in Great Barrington from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Claverack’s Olde York Farm is home to a farm-to-cask distillery and cooperage located at the historic Jacob Rutsen van Rensselaer House & Mill. Their limited releases of micro batch bourbon, whiskey and brandy are aged in barrels they build by hand on site. On weekends, stop by for a tour and a sample of Rhubarb & Honey Vodka, Thai Basil or Raspberry & Black Pepper Liqueur, Smoked Maple Bourbon or one of the Farm’s other delicious concoctions.

What would a gift list be without chocolate? Catherine’s Chocolates in Great Barrington knows ‘tis the season for sweet treats, and offers a large assortment of holiday-only creations, gift box assortments, and “stocking stuffers.” From dark-chocolate-covered orange peels and peanut brittle to Christmas Peeps and winter Oreos (and, seemingly, everything in between), you’re sure to find a favorite. If you don’t trust yourself around these tempting goodies until it’s time to exchange presents, Catherine’s can gift wrap the box for you on the spot.

For the meat-lovers in your life, it’s time to forgo the Hickory Farms gift basket and present them with a salami gift box from Jacuterie, based on an Ancramdale family farm. The business, which uses only high-quality, local, pasture-raised pork, has recently gone 100% natural. Their salami has always been free of GMOs, antibiotics and hormones, but now is also cured naturally to eliminate any synthetic nitrates. Jacuterie is launching an online shop for the first time this holiday season, and you can snag free shipping on orders $100+ from now until Dec. 22. You can also find it locally at their farm store or at area farmers markets.

For those on your list who like to experiment with their food, Roaring Brook Dairy offers kits to make your own ricotta, mozzarella, chevre, butter or tofu. Or, as the company states, “homemade by you with a little help from us.” Owner Leslie Kozupsky is a Berkshire County transplant and all of the company’s kits are produced in Lee, Mass. If this is your first time attempting to “make it at home,” RBD’s website offers step-by-step instructional videos and FAQ to help. And, even if your first creation isn’t Instagram-ready, it’ll still be delicious.


Whether your personal style is understated or over-the-top, Shana Lee Jewelry has you covered. The Warren Street (Hudson, NY) store of designer/metalsmith Shana Lee offers items for men and women, and will work with you on custom rings, earrings, bracelets and more, either from scratch or with your favorite stone. Her work has appeared in Vogue, People and Bazaar, among others, and been worn by artists including Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and Joss Stone. Now it’s your turn. But be sure to visit the shop before the end of the year, when the business will take a two-year retail sabbatical, when you’ll only be able to find them online and at pop-ups.

Hand made, hand poured and hand packaged, Tess & James’ lip balms, soy candles, bath salts and roll-on scents are made in small batches in a home studio in Rhinebeck, NY. Favorites include a bubble gum-scented lip gloss “pencil” and the Snobby Farmer lip balm. They can be found at Clove Kitchen Market in Red Hook, Paper Trail in Rhinebeck and Haven Boutique in Poughkeepsie.

MINNA is a Hudson-based home textile brand by weaver Sara Berks, whose design aesthetic she describes as “nostalgic with a touch of rebellion.” Traditional craft techniques are used to produce ethically made blankets, rugs, pillows, scarves and more. Berks is inspired by feminist art, Bauhaus, traditional craft and vintage textiles. MINNA partners with master weavers and artisan collectives in Mexico, Guatemala and Uruguay. Opened this June on Warren Street, MINNA Goods also carries ceramics, books, jewelry, paper goods, apothecary items and artisan-made goods from Mexico and Guatemala.

Bella Erder and her store Aija are back for the holidays, popping up tonight, Dec. 7, at Norfolk Night and on Saturday, Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Darren Winston, Bookseller in Sharon. The beloved Norfolk shop that shut its doors in late 2015, returns with the affordable jewelry, clothing, homeware and other items that made it so popular. With items sourced from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, China and the U.S., the brand aims to provide affordably priced, well-designed gifts for every occasion or, as its slogan says, “indulgence without excess.”

“Wow, where did you get that?” is something fans of Pat Rotondo’s jewelry must hear quite a lot. Chunky and brightly colored or delicate and dangling, the Chatham-based jeweler’s rings, earrings, necklaces and brooches run the gamut, but all are stunning. Meet her and shop her pieces at this weekend’s Shindy in Pittsfield. Some items are also available through December at Local in Lenox and Pookstyle in Chatham.


This year’s fiction releases by local authors include the critically acclaimed debut by Simon’s Rock professor Brendan Mathews, The World of Tomorrow, and Samantha Hunt’s first book of short stories, The Dark Dark. Memoirs by Dani Shapiro (Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage) and Joan Juliet Buck (The Price of Illusion) also were highly praised. Entertaining in the Country: Love Where You Eat, Joan Osofsky and Abby Adams’ sequel to Love Where You Live; Back Pocket Pasta, a book to inspire you to cook better meals faster, by Colu Henry; and Havana Living Today: Cuban Home Style, the latest design tome from Hermes Mallea, round out 2017’s most giftable reads.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/04/17 at 04:53 PM • Permalink

East Camp Goods: Alchemy And Art By Husband And Wife

By Jamie Larson

NASA announced recently that its scientists had observed, for the first time, the collision of two neutron stars. One of the many fascinating discoveries made was that the event ejected 200 Earth masses worth of gold into the universe. It’s speculated that these fantastic events are likely the origin of the gold on our planet.

In the hands of Jenna Fennell, of East Camp Goods in Germantown, New York, the elemental elegance of responsibly sourced, high-purity gold and silver, diamonds and gemstones is tooled into jewelry that impresses through artful and thoughtful designs. These designs elevate the raw natural energy of such heavenly materials while remaining decidedly down to earth.

The Fennell family. Photo by Jersey Walz.

“I think it’s important for people that these are things they can wear every day,” Jenna says. “I like to imagine East Camp clients wear their jewelry through everything. I sleep in my jewelry. I garden in it. I find as a mother of small children you don’t always put on your best clothes but I can always slip on a gold ring and have a token of glamour.”

Andy Fennell usually works on a larger scale than his wife, with wood and iron. A sculptor currently working for artist Dan Colen, he adds rustic, finely finished elements to East Camp’s collection. The couple’s collaborations, like the brass-banded driftwood tap handles they made for the Suarez Family Brewery are a clear example of the synergy of their artistic abilities.

The busy couple and parents of two girls, Juniper Coyote, 2, and Fiona Kestrel, 6 weeks, run East Camp online out of their home, but you can see a few pieces in person at Alder East in Germantown and at the seasonal flea markets held at Basilica Hudson. They also do a good deal of commission work. Jenna says that she wants to help people make their own statement with her jewelry, not impose hers on them. 

A 22k gold chain made with ancient goldsmithing techniques particular to high karat gold. “Chains are a particular interest of mine,” Jenna says. “I don’t sell jewelry with prefab chains, I make every link of every chain we sell and I love the meditative process of it.”

“You don’t want someone else wearing your shouting statement, unless it’s their shouting statement,” she says.

It’s some of Jenna’s smaller pieces that are the most captivating. Delicate rings, made, as always, from exclusively 18-karat gold or higher, may be inlaid with precious gems and a black or salt and pepper diamond. Mountings are minimally embellished and the shape and scale is perfectly balanced. Many of the pieces purposefully retain light tooling marks, adding an earthy texture as well as more surfaces to catch and reflect light.

These Suarez Family Brewery tap handles, pictured here during creation, were a collaboration between Jenna and Andy.

After college at Brown, Jenna parlayed an internship into a 13-year career as a brass mount maker at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The job afforded her a lot of technical experience, forging perfectly fitted cradles for art objects of international cultural importance. It also, she says, affected her artistry, surrounded as she was, every day, by some of the greatest art in the world. She allows that her work has been directly and in some ways subconsciously influenced by design elements of African art and the Oceana exhibit at the museum, which she worked on extensively. She’s currently working on a new design based on a traditional stacked Byzantine ring.

A ring Jenna is currently crafting, inspired by a Byzantine design, will feature a large salt and pepper diamond.

The Fennells met at a metalsmithing class at the Haystack Mountain School in Maine.

“It’s a fabulous program and a beautiful setting. It was an easy place to fall in love,” she says.

Andy soon also got a job at the Met, building custom shipping crates for traveling art pieces, which was kind of a scaled up version of Jenna’s job with different materials.

Not long after, however, they began spending more and more weekends in Rhinebeck and then bought a 900-square-foot farmhouse fixer-upper in Germantown. They left their jobs in the city and built a fabulous addition off the back to accommodate the East Camp studio (which, unlike Jenna’s subterranean office at the Met, is bathed in natural light) and their growing family.

“The process of making is so relaxing to me,” Jenna says from her studio. “I always want to come down here.”

East Camp offers pieces that become a part of you, whether you’re attending a fancy event, or gardening, cooking or playing with the kids. Although the earth may have only received a pittance of the gold rocketing through space, East Camp Goods is making it count.

East Camp Goods
ECG on Instagram & ECG on Facebook

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 10/30/17 at 09:30 AM • Permalink

Kea Carpets and Kilims: A Woven Mix Of Art And History

By Jamie Larson

Upon entering the humble Hudson shop of Kea Carpets and Kilims, you may not know a thing about the history or plight of the Middle Eastern or Asian tribes that crafted the textiles on display, but the language of form and shape woven therein is universal, and masterfully beautiful. Bringing a rug from Kea into your home feels like more than just decor. It feels like a connection between your life and that of the people who so skillfully crafted it — and the rich culture it represents.

After university, in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Susan Gomersall left England for the small Greek island of Kea. For a time, she and a group of friends reveled in traveling over land in a VW bus from the Mediterranean into the Middle East and India. They funded their “ramblings” at first by buying ethnic jewelry they could sell back in Europe, but the industry soon crowded them out.

“Through a teacher, I was introduced to textiles in Turkey,” Gomersall said from her large Brooklyn flagship. “But you couldn’t really get involved with moving rugs without having a business structure. At the time, it was very dicey to set up a business in Greece. It was chaos.”

Susan Gomersall

She had no interest in repatriating, so a friend in New York helped her set up an experimental shipment to the U.S. in 1986. It was a success and she named her new company for the Greek island she missed dearly. 

Gomersall’s knowledge and understanding of regional ethnic design grew quickly. She worked directly with dealers in cities who could take her safely to tribal areas to find designs that were both beautiful for her clients and meaningful artifacts of cultural study.

“In those early years, I’d meet up with some pickers and we’d go into tribal areas as a team. As a woman, you had to be very smart,” she recalled. “Every time I encountered a different kind of rug it was like discovering a genuine article. I’d ask questions like why a rug was such a large size and they would say, ‘it’s for sleeping on and wrapping yourself in.’ It was like being an anthropologist and all the rug dealers shared information. We still do.”

A photo by Gomersall during her travels.

The differences in uses, sizes and designs of rugs from tribe to tribe, and even weaver to weaver, became significant to Gomersall. Over the years, she’s written many papers and a book, Kilim Rugs: Tribal Tales in Wool. “Birth certificates” are kept on most pieces. The journey to bring these stunning rugs to Hudson and the importance of compensating the regional suppliers and artisan means the rugs at Kea are not inexpensive. The lower prices range around $900 while others, like a large 1920’s kilim from Dagestan, are $3,500.

“At first, the countries I worked in were really stable,” she recalled. “The first upheaval was in Iran, and the Russians invaded Afghanistan. So we had to get our act together. I still traveled to Turkey and Pakistan, and pieces would be brought over the border.”

As the region destabilized through the ‘90s, Gomersall grew uneasy, not just for her business structure but for the communities she had built relationships with.

“They became reluctant to bring me in,” she said. “I was concerned. I had been working with some of these families for 20 years and there was just no reaching them.”

As one might imagine, things didn’t improve after 2001. But the ensuing war without end brought an unexpected change to the industry that still allowed Gomersall to work, and it provided a lifeline to the tribal economies that needed to sell their masterful rugs.

“A lot of the guys we were working with fled to New York and became wholesalers,” she said. “I still had access but it was like the bazaar came to me.”

Five years ago Gomersall and her partners, who had been coming up to the RI region for years, were convinced by a visiting friend from Italy that they would be fools not to open a store in Hudson. They agreed.

The Hudson shop is run by the charming Richard Starna, who has a long history in American folk textiles as well as tribal rugs, and is given a big portion of the credit for the store’s unique esthetic. There’s no counter, computer or cash register visible in the space. There are a couple of small tables, a vase and one chair that’s draped with a shaggy carpet. Other than that it’s just rugs, hanging on the wall and folded in neatly stacked piles on the floor. While these are some of the highest-end rugs you will find, there is something gratifying about experiencing these rugs as you might if you were shopping for them in their native land, not just as handsome art but as functional purpose-made furnishings.

Kea’s home base in Brooklyn is run by Gomersall and contemporary rug designer Azy Schecter, who works with architects and design clients on custom commissions and creates new designs for Kea’s contemporary line.

Kea also recently began showcasing the contemporary rugs of Ptolemy Mann, who has family in the RI region. Her pieces, which she makes with traditional techniques, bridge the gap between modern Western art figures and tribal elegance. Her boldly colored pieces at once echo minimalist paintings, digital elements and a deep understanding of tribal patterns, stripes and color work.

“I’ve resisted selling new rugs,” said Gomersall. “But I was just blown away by her work.”

It’s also enlightening in a general sense to see Mann’s modern pieces hanging beside tribal examples. One draws attention to details in the other that might not seem as vivid when viewed alone. It’s a bit of visual magic you shouldn’t miss. You shouldn’t miss Kea at all, frankly. It is as much an art gallery or anthropological history exhibit as it is a store. There’s nothing else quite like it.

Kea Carpets and Kilims
238 Warren St., Hudson, NY
(917) 952-1654
Open Wednesday – Monday, noon – 6 p.m., or by appointment.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 10/16/17 at 09:34 AM • Permalink

Tea and Textiles: Casana Fuels Hillsdale Renaissance

By Nichole Dupont

The Hillsdale renaissance has a new patron. Like Kevin Draves and Ken Davis, who gave the town center a beautiful boost when they opened the Passiflora “lifestyle boutique” and the Village Scoop ice cream shop, Carrie Chen delivers a double shot of retail and victuals. She recently opened Casana T House, an airy tea and coffee shop, as well as Casana Designs, an arty space for baby-fine cashmere items. Chen, a designer who hails from New York City, has cultivated a mini empire just a stone’s throw (actually a two-second walk) from the town center, next door to the Home Chef, where Chen has already taught a sold-out cooking class on dumpling making.

“Food is one of my passions,” Chen says, holding a scarf the color of orange sherbet. She is showing me and my mother — an interior designer and a self-proclaimed “fabric snob” — around the shop, draping the hand-dyed scarves ($300-$500 each) over our shoulders, pointing out the fine details in a painstaking Ikat weave, describing, with a sweep of her hand down her throat, the fine hair that is used from mountain goats (who dwell at 20,000 feet or higher in Nepal) to be able to make the scarves, socks, hats, and other wearable luxuries.

“We have a new sweater line coming in shortly,” Chen says. “I think it will be very popular. You just have to feel it to know…”
She’s right. The store is a feast for textilephile eyes. I was loathe to remove a moss green wrap ($500) that she handed to me, wondering if I would wear it for an elegant night out, or a rainy Sunday nap. Chen’s enthusiasm is quiet, and incredibly magnetic. She is as passionate about the handpicked tea — “one bud at a time” — served at the cafe as she is about the kitty-fur soft scarves, hats, gloves and other textiles that grace the store. Her style sense is woven into both of the Casana spaces. There is a bright precision to the cleanly displayed wares — tea service sets, books, coffee from around the world — that still manages to be inviting.

Patrons to the tea shop are treated to a swath of bright morning light against lightly stained wood. Visitors there can enjoy gluten-free (or not) baked goods (scones and muffins, $3.50; sandwiches and quiches, about $9) with their individual tea service ($5) and/or a cup of specialty coffee (espresso, macchiato, Americano, about $3). The teas are fragrant and abundant, with more than 20 varieties, including Pu-Erh, Matcha, Rose Flower, and Buckwheat. My mum orders the chamomile, which comes to her with a variety of ceramic accessories for a perfect, sunny-yellow cup. I stick with my mainstay, Americano, and am treated to a strong, balanced and bitter brew which, in this environment, does not require the frivolity of cream. The entire experience is ceremonial. And it’s no surprise that Casana T House offers up tea ceremonies — “The Japanese ceremony is very solitary, while the Chinese is very social,” says Chen — as well as other events, including book readings and author discussions. All in an effort to engage a community that has long thirsted for a vibrant town center.

“I could just take a nap here,” my mother says, smoothing the cushion of the long window bench in the tea house.

“I don’t think anyone would mind,” I say.

Casana T House and Casana Designs
2633 State Route 23, Hillsdale, NY
Friday through Tuesday, 8 a.m. -4 p.m.

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Posted by Nichole on 10/02/17 at 12:06 PM • Permalink

Flourish Market: Old, New, Restored Decor, Delightfully Priced

By Lisa Green

“You shouldn’t have to mortgage your house to buy fun things,” says Jennifer Knopf, who opened Flourish Market in West Stockbridge, Mass. in December of 2015. The store, which offers a mixture of vintage, antique and new furniture and décor, is one of those shops where you don’t know where to look first. It takes a few moments to calm the flitting of your eyes from walls to shelves to floor until you can properly concentrate on the treasure in front of you. But you wouldn’t want to rush it, anyway.

It’s a curious mix, but that’s part of the fun. You can’t be exactly sure what’s vintage, what’s been reworked, repainted or rewired by Knopf and her team, or what’s a reproduction. Tea towels with spritely designs (new) lay on an old farmhouse table (repainted); a child’s diminutive sewing machine (old, and works) sits in front of a bas relief frame (your guess is as good as mine). Upcycled bookmarks from clip-on earrings (old and new). Figurines, paintings, lamps — who knows? If you’re looking for bona fide antiques, the kind that’ll cost you, you won’t find them here.

“I keep prices low, because if I can’t sell the merchandise, I can’t buy more,” Knopf says. “I like to mix a little old, a little new, things that remind me of growing up in Texas, stuff that’s rustic, not slick.”

Knopf has hung onto her Texas roots despite a move to Los Angeles, where she wasn’t making much use of her art major. Working at Jaeger Sportswear had its perks, however — her manager introduced Knopf to her now-husband. In 2000, he was courted by Berkshire Life Insurance (now Guardian); the video included in the employment package sold them on the Berkshires. They now live in Stockbridge.

“I’m a Martha Stewart wannabe,” Knopf admits (and indeed, she does bear a slight resemblance to the Maven of All Things). “And I thought, well, the Berkshires are close to Connecticut, so…”

A stay-at-home mom when her kids were small, she was involved in event planning for the PTA, which led to a job running fundraising events for the Lenox Library.

“But I realized that event planning really is sitting in front of the computer most of the time. The show is just two hours and then it’s done. I wanted to create an environment that’s not wrapped up in two hours.”

Now, she puts on a show for her customers, one that changes all the time. Influenced by stores such as Anthropologie and Z Gallerie (“places that you won’t find in the Berkshires”), she combs estate sales for merchandise, attends trade shows every now and then, and takes items that customers bring in. Whether it’s a rug, a faux succulent (an extremely popular item) or a necklace from found items, it’s all very cheerful, and who can’t use that?

The store sits in a low-slung building along Route 41 that’s been everything from a stovepipe shop and a glassblowing studio, to an ice cream parlor and bakery, but feels as though it was created just for Flourish, with its sunny picture windows and wide-board floors. Not far off I-90, it’s an easy spot for shoppers from Springfield and Albany, as well as locals.

“West Stockbridge is really coming alive,” Knopf says, mentioning Six Depot Roastery and the town’s newest attraction, Turn Park, as beacons to visitors. Flourish is a part of that rejuvenation — a sweet embellishment on an already engaging town.

Flourish Market
2 Albany Rd., West Stockbridge, MA
Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Noon – 4 p.m.
Closed Monday & Tuesday
(413) 232-8501

Labor Day Sale: 1st Annual Flourish Flea Market Tent Sale
Sat., Sept. 2, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 3, Noon – 4 p.m.
Everything 25-50 percent off.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/28/17 at 01:20 PM • Permalink

Get What You Want At The Keith and Patti Richards Auction

By Jamie Larson

Ever wonder what a Rolling Stone does gather? The answer, it turns out, is a whole lot of fine, high-style, Victorian antiques. Legendary Stones guitarist Keith Richards and wife Patti Hansen are auctioning off a huge collection of elegant antiques at Hudson’s own Stair Galleries on Saturday, June 24, and all the pieces are now on display for perusal.

“As all of us grew up listening to The Rolling Stones,” said the Stair in Stair Galleries, Colin Stair. “We are thrilled to have Keith and Patti Richards’ personal property here in the gallery. The entire music community in Hudson is abuzz.”

Best of all, you can feel especially vindicated about how much you drop at this auction because the proceeds will be donated to SPHERE and Prospector Theater in Ridgefield, Conn. Hansen’s 24-year-old nephew has autism and both organizations help adults with developmental disabilities actualize their dreams.

Hansen’s eye is responsible for the classic aesthetic of the items at auction, which adorned the pair’s Manhattan apartment for many years. With well over 500 items of surprisingly traditional historical European furniture, art, ceramics, dinnerware and more on display, the auction is about much more than the Richards’ name… although it certainly doesn’t hurt when it’s time to brag about where your beautiful new chairs came from. Many of the items’ estimated prices, and therefore starting bids, are set in a manageable price range, making them more attainable than one might expect. We’re highlighting a few of our favorites here, but the whole catalog is available online.

Supremely British but with an undeniably wry, rock-and-roll edge, this tea set — actual Japanese porcelain — was hand painted by artist Melody Rose. It’s hard not to see the appeal here and we wouldn’t be surprised if this piece in particular goes for much more than its estimated price, not just because of its punk elegance but its provenance as being previously owned by the fourth greatest guitarist of all time (according to Rolling Stone). This is a perfect example of how the magical power of touch adds value to an item. It’s great on its own, but knowing this was Richards’ tea set adds another ethereal layer of enamel to the set, which includes a teapot, a pair of cups and saucers, a dessert plate, a creamer, two butter plates, an ashtray, and a pair of cordials.
Estimate: $600-$800

Richards’ favorite piece in the auction is this sofa, which sat prominently in their Manhattan living room. Hansen designed the space to feel like a box of treasures and one certainly gets that feel from the items in this collection. While not many of the items scream rock and roll, there is a theatrical feel to the offerings. And there’s certainly something enjoyable about picturing Richards, with his debauched public persona, lounging on this lush sofa.
Estimate: $2,000-$3,000

There are many exquisite paintings in the collection but none are more arresting than this depiction of a nun before the guillotine, acquired from the Nashville Museum of Art. It may not be to everyone’s taste, or the most valuable piece at auction (it’s unsigned), but it vividly depicts the 1794 guillotine deaths of the Martyrs of Compiegne, the 16 Carmelite nuns who were sentenced to death during the Reign of Terror. During the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution, the nuns refused to obey the mandate that suppressed their monastery. They were arrested, imprisoned and brought to Paris where they were condemned as traitors and sentenced to death. On July 17, 1794, all 16 nuns were guillotined. The novice, Sister Constance, was the first to die, followed by the lay sisters and ending with the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine.
Estimate: $1,500-$2,500

This piece, which dates back to the 19th century, has more going on than one might think at first glance. This still-functional Literary Machine was an early mechanical recliner invented by John Carter of London (not to be confused with “of Mars” c.1911). This recliner was meant to be used in consort with a book and candle stand so that when the seat was fully reclined and the stand was swiveled in front, you could comfortably read hands free. While a number of the handsome stands are still available online, you would be hard pressed to find another chair like this, especially in this condition and working order.
Estimate: $1,000-$1,500

Richards acquired this robe in trade for one of his own leather jackets. The Quianlong Emperor reigned from 1711 to 1799 and this elegant ceremonial robe is an example of the highest luxury of that time. Interestingly, it’s hard to say what’s worth more, this beautiful one-of-a-kind historic artifact or a leather jacket worn by Keith Richards. In 2008, a leather jacket gifted to Richards by Mick Jagger was sold at auction and, while we couldn’t find the sale price, the pre-auction estimate was $6,000-$8,000. So who knows which is more valuable — but it’s hard to imagine Richards didn’t walk around that fabulous apartment, at least once, draped in some Quianlong noble’s ceremonial robe.
Estimate: $5,000-$10,000

The full auction catalog is well worth flipping through and further enhanced by a visit in person. Whether you’re there for the style or there for the provenance, this auction is a can’t-miss.

Auction of the Keith and Patti Richards Collection
Saturday, June 24 at 3 p.m (approx.). Doors open at 9 a.m.
Stair Galleries
549 Warren St., Hudson, NY
(518) 751-1000
Open for preview: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Also currently open for weekend previews until auction.
Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sundays, noon-5 p.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 06/10/17 at 02:58 PM • Permalink

It’s Annie Selke’s World. And You Can Live In It.

By Lisa Green

When we last caught up with Annie Selke, just a few months ago, the founder and creative force behind the Annie Selke Company was busy putting the final touches on her first consumer catalog. Like everything she envisions, that venture has been a great success; now proven, the catalogs will continue to roll out each season. Which means it’s time for the indefatigable doyenne of textiles and home goods to embark on another project (or two). And, in fact, a pair of new ventures are in the works, and we love that the Berkshires native is keeping them both — a pop-up shop and an inn — local.

First up, the Annie Selke pop-up store at 36 Main Street in Lenox, Mass. The diminutive space will be a showcase of the bedding; rugs; jewelry; art; tabletop, storage and decorative items; and other objets found in the catalog. Displays of product lines will change monthly; television monitors will feature the breadth of products and iPads will allow customers to shop the full Annie Selke inventory.

Top: Annie Selke pop-up shop; Bottom: 33 Main.

With space at a premium, the shop will be “an exercise in good editing and merchandising,” Selke says. “It’ll be helpful to have the big monitor so people can experience the depth of the brand.”

The pop-up store is scheduled to open in early June and will run for six months as a test. But we’re betting on Selke’s golden touch that the doors will stay open long after that.

Part of its success will likely be a by-product of the second project, 33 Main, an inn billed as an Annie Selke luxury lodging experience. If you’ve ever strolled the aisles at The Outlet at Pine Cone Hill in Pittsfield, you know that Selke’s entering the hospitality industry seems like a natural brand extension. Too, Selke’s peripatetic life gives her insight as to how to pull off a luxury inn.

“I spend 175 nights on the road in some form of hospitality,” she says. “I feel battle worn, and uniquely qualified to say what a comforting and comfortable lodging experience is.”

The real estate god must have known this, because it placed in her line of sight a handsome 1836 property for sale. She passed by and admired it every day on her way to work, and after a while of drive-bys, Selke felt like she needed to look at it. She asked her real estate friend, Kelley Vickery, to arrange a showing.

Annie Selke and COO Bob White.

“We kept looking at each other, saying, ‘it’s great, right?’ I brought in an architect friend and Bob White, our COO, and they all thought it was great, too.” And thus Selke added “inn owner” to her title.

Selke was in the process of finalizing the artwork for the inn when we spoke. She’s personally choosing all the furnishings, right down to the glazes and colors of the custom ceramics that will match the rugs and artwork.

The building, which has the perquisite “great bones,” is getting all-new bathrooms and plumbing, new tile and floors. Each of the eight rooms (two of which will be pet friendly) will be unique, offering changing showcases of fabrics and patterns from Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert and all the other lines. Mattresses are coming from uber-luxury brand Hastens (the bed of choice for the likes of Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio and Bono); tiles are from The Tile Shop and wallpaper from Ralph Lauren Home.

“We’re getting down to the granular level on details,” Selke says. They’ve developed their own bath and body products with Farmaesthetics, and are even testing the toilet paper. Ironically, the sheets for each room have yet to be chosen.

It hardly needs to be said that the furnishings at the inn will be available for sale; that’s where the pop-up shop, conveniently located right across the street, comes in. 33 Main, slated to open in August, will be a living Selke lab that guests can try out and take home with them, if they choose. And who wouldn’t choose to take home a Pine Cone Hill bathrobe?

33 Main is slated to open in August.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/29/17 at 11:27 AM • Permalink