Sunday, July 22, 2007


We're just back from the CALIFORNIA gift show in Los Angeles, and like every trip to market, we look for the unique, the unusual, and most importantly good design. With the globalization of commerce and the rampant opportunities to market ones product to the general populace, what suffers the most is style, design and fabrication. Sometimes, I fear, that finding the unique may not have an audience after all. No matter, we forge ahead with our convictions that good design lives, though perhaps it just lives in fewer and fewer places. It's a little like a fairy tale, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly, and even some things that were indefinable. This show was no different, and we saw some things that we would have been better off having not seen! I've got a sneaking suspicion that "Mean Guy" is just around the corner!


The best of show may well have been a group of Chinese, Ming Dynasty vessels, in traditional blue and white porcelain. There were five pieces in particular that caught our eye, which were in beautiful condition, with handsome shades of blue that only centuries can effect. The sizes ranged from 6-10" in height, with diameters of 5-9". The collection was presented by John Lee, a Japanese- American antiques dealer based in San Francisco, and from whom we have purchased several Chinese and Japanese antiquities over the years.

Mr. Lee noted that these jars are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and that interest in this period (Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644) has continued to increase each year , citing recent auction records set in Japan for porcelain vessels of similar size, condition and age, selling at US $5,000. each.

Lee, the consummate Asian antiques dealer, known for buying more for his personal collection than he could ever resale, said that these were from his personal collection, and that he wasn't sure how many Ming porcelains he owned. He said he sells them as he finds them in his warehouse, and had we not personally visited his warehouse, one might think he was just another antiques dealer parroting the oft and over used statement, "they're from my personal collection". Look for these Ming rarities on the Cabana Home website in early August 2007 (


Of particular interest were the collections from BO Tree, a California based importer of reclaimed exotic hardwoods, recycled into handsome interior furnishings. Most of the wood is found in Indonesia, but don't confuse this designer with the all too common and typical cheap Indonesian furniture importers that liter our streets of commerce. No bad copies of British colonial antiques here, but fresh and beautifully proportioned side and cocktail tables, consoles, and dining tables. Using virtually petrified tree stumps, our favorites were the square cocktail tables, finished with a clean and clear hand rubbed finish, that would be equally at home in a New York loft, or mixed with traditional antiques in a faux Tuscan manor house in Beverly Hills. The dark interior age rings of the former tree, are highlighted and illuminated in stark contrast to the lighter, outer edges of the trunk.

Old wooden gears, or cogs, standing approximately 22-24" tall, and 12-14" in diameter, had been highly waxed and polished, and were reborn as terribly unique and sophisticated chair side tables. Though somewhat diminutive as compared to the occasional tables reported on above, these tables weighed in excess of two hundred pounds each.

Huge slabs of old growth teak, mostly organic in form, were recreated as Dining tables, large enough to seat twelve persons. These tables cannot be delivered to your home by your average two-man delivery team, four to six persons are required to lift these beauties into place.

The occasional tables will be available on the Cabana Home website in early August, and the larger pieces will be available by special arrangement.


Okay, now, I've been to many a home furnishings show in the last 3o years, and there is always a hideous something or other that we just cannot bear. Just as in a group of people gathered together, there's always one in the bunch that stands out from the others, and I don't mean in a good way. That's a doozy. The doozy can be a conversation overheard; a person--the Buyer or a Manufactures Representative; the Store or Shop, the Showroom, or the Item name or Label.

One of the first times I traipsed through a home furnishings show at the ginormous (you've got it--gigantic and enormous combined--and coined by the MTV set) Dallas World Trade Center and the attached Dallas Trade Mart, which total more than three million square feet (or 914,400 meters for you metro-metric purist). I thought wow, look at this place, what don't they have here? I was perusing the goods at one of the thousands of showrooms, and I happened upon a twenty-something man with big Texas hair (which was hard enough to take on the women). I watched him as he sashayed about the showroom, all in a twitter. I tried to read the name of his store, printed on the required name tag, and finally he slowed enough so I could make it our, it read, Let's Decorate.

Let's Decorate? What? Can you imagine telephoning that store?

"Let's Decorate, when and where? This is Bobby Dale Smith, How may I help you?"

I mean, really now!

More recently we were at the International Home furnishings show in High Point, NC, riding on the shuttle bus to the market center from our elegant Days Inn accommodations, though it was priced like the Pierre in New York.

The women seated in front of us was just having a wonderful time on her cell phone, and talking so loudly we could hear her entire conversation. As she began to hang up, she said, "Oh, girl, I'm so glad we connected. I was meaning to call you so we could get together and snyergize, and all."

Snyergize? What? Is that a word? An activity? I'm sorry! We lost it ojn that one; our complimentary Maxwell House coffee sloshed out of our thin-walled Styrofoam cups. Let's synergize! LOL.

Now, here's one from yesterday: We were sitting in the cafe at the Los Angeles Convention Center, enjoying an overpriced coke and an under-warmed hamburger. A couple sat down at the next table, and you know, I just had to look at the name of their store.


Suddenly, I wasn't hungry any longer. My sick head went straight to the Diaper Cakes part of the name. What are Diaper Cakes anyway?

Lastly, I spotted a banner hanging above one of the booth's as we were making our way out of a vast hall, which read Baby Gag. I have no idea what it is that these people sell, and I'm not sure that I shouldn't have whipped out my cell phone and called Child Protective Services, just in case. Lawsy me!

STAY TUNED as next week we're headed to the San Francisco International Gift Show, where we always find a jewel or two.

More tomorrow! Stick around with the Design Guy, because you'll never know what you didn't know before you got to know the Design Guy.

Good Night Moon.


Luana said...

Good post.

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