Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Navigating High Point Furniture Market April 2011

 High Point is logistically difficult to navigate.  Having shopped "The Market" for at least 20 days per year, for the past 25 years, I know my way around, and oddly find the experience energizing. The main hurdle is lodgings, and I would recommend two locations. The Proximity hotel is the new chic LEED green hotel in Greensboro, and is close to the airport. The food is excellent and the commute to High Point is about 25 minutes. You will find the high end design crowd at the bar.

My second choice would be to stay at the Graylyn Estate in Winston-Salem. It is the former property of R.J. Reynolds executive, Bowman Gray and is now operated by Wake Forest University. I walk the grounds often, and it is far from the madding crowd, but really the same distance as Proximity, though a few more minutes from the airport. Prices are extremely reasonable, and dining in Winston Salem is much more accessible during market. You will miss the night scene, but in my opinion, you do not want to stay in High Point during market, you will want to retreat. If you stay at Graylyn, you will want to eat at 1703, 2 minutes down the road. The menu is inspired, and the food, mercifully, after a long day at market, is served at your pace--quickly, or leisurely.

Now, down to the brass tacks of High Point. The heart of HP is the IHFC (International Home Furnishings Center).  Go there first, (shown below in red).  I've drawn orange lines around the perimeter of your hunting grounds. The Hamilton Wrenn district and Market Square are areas you should explore. Receiving a Resource Guide in advance is key. Ask the market authority to send you a copy. It is easier for me than the website, which is surprising.  For parking, I'm one to pay the piper. I have good luck on Wrenn, between Green (rear of IHFC) and Russell. Many hotels have shuttle service to the transportation terminal at the IHFC.

If you are not snagging "one of a kinds," your first stop is InterHall in the IHFC. Walk through the main street entrance (Commerce) and walk down the hall to the right. InterHall is the must see, juried space at market. This is where the market authority separates the "Wheat from the chafe." Thank goodness!

If you have regular access to large design centers, many of these vendors are unique to HP, so take the time.  As you walk up and down the aisles, you will see an escalator. When you finish shopping InterHall, return to the central escalator and window shop floors 2-4 of the adjacent Design and Green sections.  Chelsea textiles has spectacular Gustavian and mid-century pieces. 

As far as I'm concerned, in the IHFC,  InterHall and floors of 2-4 of "Design" and "Green" are all you need to discover. If other vendors are on your list for that building, ask a guide. Your next stop is the highly worthy, outdoor furniture location. Go back down the escalators to InterHall and retrace your steps towards the Inter Hall food court. There is a sneaky exit behind the dining tables that will put you on the crosswalk to the outdoor furniture vendors. Walk through most of those showrooms, on that floor, there are some gems.

Commerce Street runs in front of the IHFC, when you finish shopping the annex, orient yourself to Commerce and go left towards the C and D building. The C and D has some of my favorite vendors. We posted our coveted Carson and Co decoupage lamps, and furniture last July. Susan's card table is  another heart stopping, hand touched product. These artisanal vendors are the heirloom tomatoes and regional goat cheeses found at farmers markets. You will not find them in the urban design buildings or most regional markets. They show in North Carolina.  High Point is Captain Crunch on a shelf next to white truffle oil, next to beef jerky, adjacent to organic free range chicken eggs, picked this morning!

This is a breathtaking 17th and 18th century print, decoupage treatment for a card table that can be customized completely. Susan's showroom is #41 in the C and D building. The telephone is: 704-332-5955  Click here to read our previous post about her cottage industry. When you finish the C and D building, walk across the street to market square.  Market square has a new juried equivalent of InterHall, called Salon. It is slowly improving.

Start on the ground floor and power walk the suites. I have trained myself to pass the junk quickly, and not sift for nuggets in every stall.  Don't forget to see the Wind Rose when you've reached the second floor. Here is their location: Space 246-250 Historic Market Square, Telephone: 336.327.5306. Market is disorienting, but there are guides everywhere.

When you've done the suites, go back to market square and use the escalator and run some laps around those floors.

Libeco of Belgium shows their traditional flax linens in the salon space: stall G-7034.  Fellow blogger Greet from Belgian Pearls introduced this wonderful line to us recently. Don't forget to ask the guides to put you on the correct elevator to take you to Century Furniture. You don't want to miss this little darling in the Oscar De La Renta line.

When you've finished, go out the front of the Suites and catch a van to the Hamilton district. I get off the van at Broad and Hamilton. This district has many excellent vendors, I will feature some of the must sees.

Pay attention to the Wright Table company and the amazing custom work they craft in North Carolina. Don does a mixture of traditional, contemporary and European designs and is a master of teasing depth out of beautiful woods. The scale and design of his furniture is the perfect imperfection we are looking for in a custom reproduction. He made my breakfast table and it is beautifully indestructible.
This industrial era inspired coffee table literally levitates to table height,  reverses with equal grace and has a lock for child proofing.  The surface and finish can be customized. 330 N. Hamilton ST-S-204 tel:336-841-3918. At the bottom of the stairs on your way out, say hello to Ian from Fauld Town and Country furniture. 

Ian has beautifully hand made English and European reproductions, crafted within the renown English cabinet making tradition.

 We will move on to New River Artisans.

In the same district, New River Artisans, is an oxymoronic, crazy good taste, custom designed, hand made carpet resource from the middle of Appalachia. Seriously, the New River is ancient, and flows, unlike any river in North America from south to north.  New River Artisans reflect the anomaly of their name--East Jesus meets Madison Avenue--who knew.  If you think you've ever been in the boonies, drive 100 miles more miles, or come see them at High Point. Their showroom is: 200 N. Hamilton ST. N. Court, suite #301. In that neighborhood, Mottahedeh has an "over run" cash and carry show room I hit each market.

Over the years, I have accumulated wonderful vases, far below wholesale. In the Hamilton district up higher towards the Wrenn side, you'll find Y.H. Antiques, together with Somerset Bay and Modern History. 

Don't even think about missing Hickory Chair where you can run into the likes of Alexa Hampton, Thomas O'Brien, and Suzanne Kasler. If you are coming to market let me know. I'd love to see you!

The Winner of our French Basketeer Giveaway is:


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Magical Ecuador and the Countryside Part II Also a fantastic Giveaway From French Basketeer

Our wonderful lodgings at Hacienda Cuisin, purchased from the King of Spain a year before Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, originally encompassed over 100,000 acres, north of Quito in the lush Andean highlands. At 8,500 feet with the predictable equatorial sun, and rich volcanic soils,  the owner, Nicholas Millhouse has resurrected this old world eden. It is a perfect refuge or staging area to explore the dramatic countryside. 

The beauty of colonial architecture lies within the flow of interior and exterior space. Courtyards and gardens alternate between verdant sanctuaries and cozy firesides. 

Nicholas Millhouse has created a delightfully eclectic mix of English comfort, Andean crafts and ecclesiastical arts. The famed Ecuadorean roses are splashed around every single room, as if they were daisies.  

Orchids and bromeliads bloom profusely in the branches of over 1000 varieties of trees on the estate. The garden is a horizontal and vertical experience. 

Dinner was actually growing in the morning from the Hacienda gardens. I love soup, an unworthy name for my favorite detectible course. The fresh vegetable soups in Ecuador generate swoons. I need to mention the juice. We have never heard the names, or tasted these fruits at our designer grocery stores. I thought every exotic fruit on the planet was within reach---so not true.  The fresh fruit juice is so delicious I could  become diabetic.

Over 60 species of flowers from all over the world are cultivated in the gardens. 

17th century,
horse and carriage trammelled cobblestones, lead us through a door in the wall. Before we pass, into the garden, we are reminded to consider its dynamic opposite.

Our host is an avid collector of textiles from all over the world. If you are a fan (Jane Schott, you know I mean you) you are in for a treat. 

You can write your first novel here, or visit the famed Otavalo craft market, a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town, which is in a valley, is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura 4,630m, Cotacachi 4,995m, and Mojanda volcanoes.

Ramelle Pulitzer of New View Tours, who planned and organized our trip shared this photo.

The people of Otavalo are famous for their sweetness, although I will say, you pass houses with bars on the windows, with walls and gates.  We were firmly instructed to hold on to our wallets, but for once in my life, I had no trouble.

I wanted to give you a bird's eye view of the this dramatic volcanic valley. 

PHOTO SOURCE: Patricio Ramon

Every inch of arable space is feverishly cultivated by the indigenous population. When I tell you these hillsides are steep, I am not kidding. We walked along the brittle edge of the caldera on the right hand side. I had to sit down and make contact with the earth to orient myself.

You can hike around the massive lake, in the eco preserve, formed by an epic volcanic explosion over 3,000 years ago. I know most of you will forgive me if we took the short hike (we were at an altitude of 10,200 feet here), and went shopping in the famous Cotacachi, the center of Ecuador's leather industry, which is known for its polished calf skins. The whole town is bags, shoes, coats etc.. The prices are terrific.

I collided with the fiesta! How adorable are these girls? I missed photographing the attentive nuns coaxing them through their performance.

Ramelle and Michael Pulitzer, our hosts at New View Tours,  introduced us to Miguel Andrango the master traditional weaver

The local flora and some fauna, provide the natural dyes for the hand carded and spun wool.

Miguel spins on the walking loom, made by his father.

The maestro at his craft

Miguel and his daughter Luz Maria stand in front of the beautiful woven textile I purchased. I am humbled by the painstaking dedication to the process of their traditional art. It takes two months to wash, card, spin, dye and weave this remnant of the past.  Our small group was touched by their kindness and patience, describing this dying art.

More lost arts can be found in the workshops of San Antonio de Ibarra.

The upscale Galeria Latina, in Quito, has an astonishing array of the Andean crafts. I lust for a collection of these bad boys!

Andrea of French Basketeer has a generous giveaway for our Readers!

Go to Andrea's website and choose your favorite bag!

Come back to Dovecote Decor and let us know by leaving a comment!

 Come back every time you tweet or share on facebook, and let us know,
it will increase your odds of winning.

Good Luck!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Magical Equator: Quito and The Countryside of Ecuador

Photo Courtesy of New View Tours

Last winter I vowed not to endure the dreary months of January and February in North Carolina, so when my friends Ramelle and Michael Pulitzer of New View Tours sent me their itineraries, I jumped on The High Sierra Tour.

There is no way I am going to poke around a third world country on my own, and since the Pulitzers have beaten a path down there for years, joining their group made this adventure possible for me.  Many of our friends have visited the 17th century Hacienda Cusin, our home base down the Pan American highway, an hour outside of Quito. Our host Nik Millhouse celebrated his 21st year of inn keeping with us, and we were dazzled by his extensive knowledge of the area and charmed by his wit and humor. We stayed on the El Monasterio side of the Inn, a short walk through the exotic gardens shared between them. 

Elaborately carved doors into El Monasterio courtyard 

The equator is a bewitching place. At 9,200 feet we are in a verdant paradise where tropical plants grow side by side with English garden flowers of all seasons. 

Above us, are the third closest mountains to the sun, below us are vertiginous ravines and gorges, as if nature had squeezed every aspect of herself into this corner of the world. 

The ancient cultures and rich heritage of the area are derived from this abundance. With three harvests a year, the wealthy, indigenous people had time to calculate complex and highly accurate celestial measurements, knowing well before the Europeans that the earth was round, that they lived in the center of the planet, that the earth tilted at 23.5 degrees (actual 23.45) and that it orbited the sun. 

The Equatorial line passing through the high plateaus and mountains of Ecuador provides a unique place on earth to observe the stars of both hemispheres simultaneously. Solar  sight-line markers were erected over great distances to accurately mark the solar and lunar traverses. Many of Quito's churches were built on top of much earlier, indigenous astrological monuments, lined up along the route of the sun on the summer solstice. The Quitsato Project has more information on this topic. 

I took this photograph of an old door on the Hotel Andaluz in the Colonial heart of the ancient city, conquered by the Spanish from the Incas in 1534. The eight sided star in the center is an archetypal symbol and is believed to have been the basis of locations for indigenous Ecuadorian observatories. The roots of the eight-point star symbol are derived from early astronomy. The eight lines are symbolic of the four corners of space (north, south, east, and west) and time (two solstices and two equinoxes). 

four corners of space and time

This eight sided star is seen throughout the region in textile designs, yet would have been integrated by the Spanish, as moorish architectural motifs. Layers of indigenous, Inca, Spanish, Moorish and French building design co-exist in Quito, much like the rest of the flora, fauna and dramatic geology of the equatorial region. 

The Plaza Simon Bolivar, commemorating the liberator of grand Columbia (Ecuador, Peru, Venezuala and Columbia).  Note the Moorish roof lines. 

Quito was the first city in the world to be named a UNESCO heritage site. On the left you can catch a glimpse of the presidential palace. On the corner, the bizarre Chilean Auricaria tree towers above the square, in front of the former home of Manuela Sáenz, lover of Bolívar who rescued him from an assassination attempt.

It is hard to imagine that the massive,  Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco commenced construction in this remote colonial outpost in 1535. With the assistance of the large indigenous enslaved population they managed to complete it within 100 years. Layers of Moorish, indigenous, Judaic and Catholic symbols combine to magical effect. 

Photography is forbidden in the sacred places, however, this image is reproduced so frequently, I cannot credit the photographer.

La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús began construction in 1605, by the Jesuits,  and was not completed until 1765. It is one of the great baroque masterpieces of South America, modeled after the churches of Gesu and St. Ignazio in Rome. Notice the Solomonic columns, evident throughout the city. They are symbolic of the Judaic doctrine that life's journey starts at the bottom (on earth), but by following the holy path it ends at heaven. 

Allegedly 7 tons of Inca gold cover the interior of this 17th century church, entirely executed by the unsigned craftmanship of the native people. 

Only in Quito will you see the Catholic Saints, surrounding an Inca sun. 

Basilica del Voto Nacional 
It is the largest neo-gothic basilica in the Americas.
Construction began @ 1882, and is still incomplete. It is guarded by South American gargoyles!

The Spanish colonials loved of the sophisticated French!

Mixed European styles and eras throughout the colonia. 

La Condamine stayed here with the Jesuits when he arrived bedraggled in Quito behind the first wave of the French Geodesic expedition that left France in 1735. Their mission was the accurate mapping of the equator and measuring the length of a latitudinal meridian. They recorded a great deal of flora, much of which was lost at sea, or during arduous travel. 

If you are longing for a spectacular trip for a fraction of the prices of Europe, go visit Michael and Ramelle Pulitzer at 

In the next post, I'll take you out to the countryside. 


For more extensive reading on the subject
I recommend: 

Robert Whitaker