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Apr 192011

I just returned from The City of the Angels, aptly named in 1781. I am certain it was paradise on earth. Only one hundred years ago, the city boasted a population of 100,000. Navigating the expressways today, this statistic boggles the mind, as the city rolls on forever.

Mostly surrounded by L.A. proper, there is a spot called Culver City that used to be the epicenter of the motion picture industry. Outside the center of Culver City there are long stretches of low lying warehouses and gritty nondescript buildings; many in poor repair or empty. The remains of another time, it was never a pretty sight.

I am setting the stage for a remarkable story concerning one man and his passion for creating his own paradise on earth. His name and the name of his business is Charles Jacobsen.

My friend and I are looking for the address of his showroom; driving past yet another low slung faceless building, we turn into a wide alley. The first clue that we had arrived was a beautiful green wall of plantings with a spot to park. As soon as we stepped out of the car and glanced over to the interior wall, we saw it was covered with brilliant clear dark purple flowers climbing 30 feet into the air.

The gate opens and we are transported into a spectacular garden. Full grown trees and shrubs, fountains, furniture, objets de jardin…the whizzing cars and world outside are lost. We have entered into a perfect world of beauty and order; the most lovely commercial venture I have ever seen.

I hesitate to call it a showroom, but that is what it is. Charles, a tall and elegant man born in Hawaii, has traveled extensively and has brought his perfectly chosen treasures back to this garden where they live until sold. There is everything you can imagine from Japanese stepping stones to carved marble from India to antique Dutch furniture from Sri Lanka to stone pillars, chairs and beds and sinks lighting, textile, and….well….just about everything. He also offers a collection of stunning upholstered furniture.

All of this is merchandised with a painter’s eye and an architect’s precision. It is just plain glorious and you must visit soon.

If this hasn’t intrigued you enough, I leave you with this: Hung on the branches of the trees throughout the grounds are old bamboo cages with song birds in them. Their sweet chirping merges with the sounds of the fountains and leaves you feeling that you are far, far away in the Garden of the Angels.

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Jul 152009
A clothes line - savior of textiles

Textile savior?

Who would ever think that having a clothes line would become a rare and coveted thing? At Anichini, we know well that the clothes dryer is a textile killer. The last 5 minutes overheats the fibers and causes them to deteriorate.

If you have the opportunity, never dry anything 100% unless you don’t care about the lifespan.

You can also purchase a drying rack. I use one from Best of New England. It is collapsible and you can take it outside on a sunny day. I hang up everything—even T-shirts! It is better for the environment and better for the life of any fabric or textile.

And clothes lines are making a comeback – even in Manhattan.

Nov 162008

In this world where every store looks alike, a step into Sue King’s store is a complete departure from the norm. While the store does not appear to be very large on first encounter, it is packed with the most intriguing and unusual products and gifts. There is also a warehouse off-premises, with staff scurrying back and forth to keep the shelves well stocked.

The shop is primarily a “home store” with an emphasis on tabletop and textiles. However, much can be found that transcends that description. Whatever strikes Sue King’s fancy, ends up being given space in her Sacramento Street domain.

Celebrating her 30th anniversary this year, her long experience and keen eye are unmatched in the retail world. She personally travels the world and chooses the crème de la crème for her San Francisco customers. As much as I travel, which includes trade shows everywhere, I always find things I have never seen when I visit her shop. Why? Because she has developed personal relationships with creative folk from all walks of the design world who work exclusively for her.

You will find glass, china and flatware that is completely unique to her. But you will also find Fortuny lighting, enameled lava table in brilliant colors from France, handmade one of a kind jewelry pieces, the best in room fragrances, body products, lavish and pertinent books, unique furniture pieces, the list is endless.

I love the place! Sue is almost always there unless away drumming up new ideas. Something of a legend, she runs a tight ship and has an extremely knowledgeable staff. Naturally, designers are very attracted to her space.

Oh! one more thing. Her gift wrapping is the BEST. Beautiful thick paper with rich satin ribbon and always perfect colors. Her eye for color is impeccable.

Oct 022008

I like to explain my interests in life as a search for the genuine article. A quest for authenticity.  This passion for the “real deal” has contributed to  Anichini’s reputation as having the best of the best, with an emphasis on hand crafted traditional textiles.

Having said that, my quest extends beyond textiles into many areas. One of them is food and food production.  I am a member of the Slow Food movement. Carlo Petrini, it’s founder, is a personal hero. His revelation in 1986 was the spark that launched a new awareness of food around the world; how we grow, prepare and share it. I have often suggested that Anichini could be defined as part of a Slow Textiles movement; in opposition and contrast to chemically produced disposable textiles.

Like food, there are many “endangered species” of textile production that we seek out and support. I live in Vermont where there are many people who share these ideals. This past weekend I visited the local Norwich farmers market which was overflowing with beautiful fresh food, all produced within a small radius of the market. Marketplaces are the same the world over; they are the epicenter of the community. Wherever I travel, I always try to visit the local market to experience what is unique to that place.