Great Design at Good Design
May 24th, 2010 by Saxon Henry
Gail Garlick crossed my radar several years ago when she opened Good Design, a beautiful space on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in which she curates quality exhibitions of furnishings she offers for sale. I was curious as to how she came to develop such a finely honed eye and she was kind enough to share her story with RBD readers. Currently on view at Good Design are furnishings by Antoine Schapira, which runs through June 11. Scroll down for a bit more information about Schapira after you’ve enjoyed Garlick’s journey to design:
My foray into the world of design began in 1975 in Upstate New York’s Columbia County, which was a far cry from the Columbia County of today. When I moved there to start my family, I knew I was going to the country, but the change of pace was jarring given that I had been raised in New York City by parents who collected art and enjoyed keeping up with the cultural offerings that flourish in Manhattan—a stimulating life that I had enjoyed immensely.
At that time, the county was mostly populated by local country folk, though that’s not to say I didn’t meet Ellsworth Kelly, a neighbor, in the Spencertown country store. He regaled me about my black lab, Morris, who had come by to see his dogs one day and had gotten so excited he peed on Ellsworth’s foot! I also knew that George Rickey was working in another village nearby, but by and large it was a sleepy little county in upstate New York.
After spending a year or so cooking, gardening, tending a horse, and renovating my Greek Revival home, I realized I was bored. It was then I struck up a friendship with a woman who, like myself, was a young mother. She and her husband were antiques dealers. Her name was Jane Dunn, and she and I enjoyed many play-dates with our young daughters. It was during that time that I was exposed to the world of antiques. Jane and Michael were true intellectuals; they had an ever-growing library and a passion for all things historical. It was Jane who gave me my first glimpse into connoisseurship.
Columbia County in the late 70’s had a terrific group of young Americana dealers who would later become some of the finest dealers in the country. The list included Grace and Elliott Snyder, Jane and Michael Dunn, Corey Daniels, John and Jackie Sideli, Robert Wilkins and Suzanne Courcier. Lucy Vine Clerk, mother of Ed Clerk—the famous Shaker dealer—was just down the street from the Sidelis in Malden Bridge. Bob Herron, a local auctioneer, lived and held wonderful auctions packed with American antiques in Austerlitz—near Bob and Suzanne.
I made friends with these very sophisticated people first, and soon I was living the life of a dealer. In those days I sold baskets, hooked rugs, painted furniture and shaker finds from the unheated addition of my home in Spencertown. I participated in flea markets for Russell Carrell and the Columbia County Historical Society in Kinderhook. I eventually set up at the Danbury Shows, which Jackie produced, where my booth neighbor was often Norma Keno, mother of Leigh and Leslie, who were collecting even then.
When I opened Good Design it was with an eye to bringing incredible talent together under one roof—sometimes combining the furniture of a group of talented designers whose creations support a theme and sometimes featuring the furnishings of one designer in particular whose creations shine in collective fashion. At the moment, I have the first U.S. solo show of Antoine Schapira’s works on view. He is not your run-of the-mill studio maker but a trained ébéniste from the elite École Boulle in Paris, and his interpretation of studio furniture is both elegant and high styled.
In her review of his New York debut at last fall’s Modernism + Art 20 show at the Park Avenue Armory, Roberta Smith of The New York Times called him, “an imaginative, stupendously skilled maker of exquisitely considered and finished wood furniture.” One of the pieces shown here illustrates how he works from a clay maquette, creating original forms using vintage Brazilian rosewood veneer and gilding. He also created one of these pieces by making his own veneer from resin and twigs, then wrapping the entire piece in industrial steel cable.
Good Design is located at 1305 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. To see the Schapira exhibition, visit between 11 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Friday through June 11th.