For decorative arts devotees, nothing is better than finding lots of fine furnishings and art all under one roof. Better if the roof covers all periods and styles as well as (clearly marked) reproductions and contemporary craft. Look no further than midtown Manhattan where you'll find Center44 (222 East 44th Street), a few blocks west of the United Nations.
Into Africa (made from recycled Texaco oil drums found in Africa) $1250
Proprietors Paul Plumadore and Jim Tindell are the kind of people who make the business of buying and selling antiques pure pleasure. They've invited 75 dealers to display furnishings in room-like settings and the results create sparks of brilliance. Mod, see-through lucite chairs rub up against a 300-year-old walnut chest-of-drawers. Fornasetti plates (by Rosenthal) rest on a metal table fashioned from discarded oil drums. The decorative mix, from old Ethiopian crosses to Italian modern (Gio Ponti chairs) reflect the way we live now.
Striped Italian chair, circa 1940
Paul, a former dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, designed the look of the Center while Jim handles sales southern style–friendly and gracious (chalk it up to Alabama where he was born). Shoppers include a-list designers Bunny Williams, Kelly Wearsler, Amy Lau and Albert Hadley to name (drop!) a few regulars. The atmosphere invites meandering (and so does the shop layout). Introduce yourself to Paul and Jim before you begin. They can help, but you're free to browse. Most of the individual dealers leave it up to Paul and Jim to handle sales. Don't be surprised if a few hours pass before you come up for air. And prices? Affordable. Visit and tell us what you find. Center44 earns four acanthus leaves * * * * (And the super-groovy hanging lights throughout the block-long showroom are among the best we've seen anywhere in NYC.)
Engraved brasses on an English walnut chest-of-drawers, circa 1700
Can you identify?