“Where did the name Objects of Desire come from? At first I thought it was some kind of sex shop.”
Thank you for this question, because I know a number of our customers have commented on the name. To be quite straightforward about it, the name summarizes my hopes and philosophy for the shop. My hope is that you will discover beautiful items, or objects, that you will want, or desire, to own or to give as a special gift. Desire, to my mind, implies something more emotionally driven than the word “want” which could be driven by practical necessity. So, to me, desire suggests an emotional response to the object that heightens its significance to the buyer. My philosophy is to offer items that have the potential to emotionally engage with you, or if it doesn’t resonate with you, then with someone else. Therefore, we do not carry a lot of the typical stuff you find in most gift shops, including anything to do with technology. Most of our items are likely to be well designed and “artistic” in some sense, even if not made by an artist per se, but maybe produced by a skilled craftsperson. You can visit our website or the store itself and judge for yourself. But one of the most common observations new customers share with me is their delight (and surprise) regarding all of the “unusual” and “beautiful” items in the shop. However, when I first came up with that name, my marketing consultants cautioned me that the name was likely to be misunderstood or misinterpreted by some people, so we came up with the additional part of the name, “Objects of Desire Artful Living” which was supposed to help clarify that the shop was not about sex, but about living with beautiful and gracious things. You may be interested to know that my barber suggested that I Google “Objects of Desire” to see what it came up with, which I did. And most of the references were to arts-related topics. In fact, I bought a number of the books that were cited in the search results with the phrase “Objects of Desire” in their titles and they are on display in the shop. The books are about art for the most part, including Objects of Desire: The Modern Still Life (Rowell); Objects of Desire-The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them (Freund); The Visual Object of Desire in Late Medieval England (Stanbury); Desire, the Shape of Things to Come, and the book which comes the closest to my conception for the shop, a book of photographs of and commentary on beautiful cars and other items of stylish living, Objects of Desire curated by Farameh.
“Why is your shop is located on a side street like Front Street, off the main ‘drag’? Wouldn’t it be better to be on Main Street?
Well, probably yes, in terms of foot traffic. However, it is frequently difficult to find parking on Main Street or nearby, and Objects of Desire has plenty of parking in front of the store, across the street, in the driveway, and in the city parking lot one house away. Another reason is that I found a beautiful and quaint brick Victorian cottage (1870) in which to house the shop, and I love Victorians. The cottage gives me a chance to provide an enhanced experience to the customer because I painted each room in the shop a different color in order to provide a rich, color-filled shopping experience, and the individual rooms feature details like crown molding to add character and a sense of grandeur to the showrooms. I could not easily duplicate these elements in a more modern, open storefront space. The physical space adds to what I hope is an intimate and enjoyable shopping experience which is enhanced by offering customers a pirouette cookie upon entering, and interesting music while shopping, as well as the outdoor garden showroom during the summer and early fall. Another advantage of our location is the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, which is located directly across Front Street from the shop. Having the Marathon Center as a next-door neighbor adds a distinctive aspect to our location. But, more foot traffic would be welcome!
“I understand you do workshops of various kinds from time to time. How do I find out about these workshops and when they are offered?”
Yes, our artists sometimes offer workshops based upon their special skill sets. There are three ways to find out about them: 1. Visit the shop or call and ask about them (we often have postcard “posters” featuring upcoming workshops on display); 2. Visit the website and check out our Calendar of Events page; and 3. Get on our E-mail list and I will alert you to upcoming workshops. To register for our e-mail announcements (usually once a week or less, I will not inundate you with emails) you can register here.
“Why do you have an art gallery in a gift shop? What is the connection between the two?”
As the answer to the previous question suggests, my philosophy is to offer to our customers beautiful gifts that are in some ways like original art. Take, for instance, the two brands of serveware (serving platters and dishes) that are featured in the shop: Julia Knight and Beatriz Ball. Both of these fine brands make their aluminum serveware by a sand casting method, which is a hand-crafted way of making these beautiful pieces one-by-one. Beatriz Ball’s shiny aluminum pieces are then hand polished. The colorful Julia Knight pieces are hand painted with an enamel infused with mother-of-pearl. The quality and craft-like detail of these gorgeous pieces of serveware is why these brands are featured in the best stores in the United States, including Bloomingdales and Nieman Marcus. So, the answer to the question is that the gift shop is in some ways also featuring art, just not signed by the artist, but still a one-of-a-kind original. So, we try to run the gamut from beautifully crafted items marketed by companies like Julia Knight and Beatriz Ball in the gift shop, to beautifully executed original art sold by the artists themselves and on consignment in our Collector Gallery. But it is also true that not everything in the gift shop is craftsman quality. My wife purchased items at the New York Gift Show that I did not think were consistent with my concept of the shop as “artistic” and “original” like BlueQ socks and other items. BlueQ is a company in Massachusetts that makes what might be called “irreverent” products (like men’s and women’s socks) with cheeky sayings on them, as well as products like breath sprays, soaps, gums, hand sanitizers, etc. with often embarrassing and hilarious commentary on them. I was reluctant to showcase these products, even though they are designed by individual graphic artists who are given acknowledgement on the products themselves. But, in spite of my reservations, these products have become the best selling items in the shop. So much for my high-minded notion of the shop. The result is the gift shop is more eclectic, offering both artistic and fun items.
“What is ‘an interior design studio’ and why is it located upstairs from the gift shop and art gallery?”
The Artful Living Interior Design Studio is another extension of the original concept of offering beautiful and unique items to a discerning customer. The gift shop has always carried home accessories like lamps and mirrors. The interior design studio just takes that concept a little further to include furniture and room design features like floor and wall tile, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and other accoutrements of gracious living. So, the studio is like a mini furniture store (it is not very big). It is designed to showcase the design philosophy of the owner, Paul Sears, which leans towards contemporary, European design (especially Italian furniture) and a minimalist esthetic. You can get an idea of some of the individual pieces of furniture featured in the studio from the website (click on “Interior Design Studio”). But to get a better appreciation of the design philosophy, you need to see the rooms and how they are designed and put together. So, the studio is a small space (living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen) where you can do that.”
“You feature a bed on the interior design studio website. Do you really sell beds?”
Yes. We represent a very fine mattress company called Paramount out of Norfolk, Virginia which is family owned and has been in business for over 80 years. We carry one of their five lines of mattresses, the Heavy Duty line, which I think is one of the best mattress made. It is made in the USA, carries a 20 year non-prorated warranty, and is a marvelously comfortable mattress. Since our showroom is so small, we feature only one of these mattresses in the studio bedroom, the “Logan” medium firm mattress, so you can test it out if you wish. If you think you would prefer a bit firmer mattress, they have a “firm” version, and if you think you might like a softer version, they offer a “plush” option in this mattress also. But, a bed is more than just a mattress, so you can also check out our Italian platform bed frame, on which the mattress rests. The bedframe is made by Tomasella and is their “Piuma” model, which features a cushion headboard (available in many different coverings, including leather). Tomasella has a whole catalog of different bedroom furniture and if you like their stuff you can check out the whole catalog and order whatever you like.