This month, PAGODA RED will be participating in the East Hampton Antiques Show, hosted by the East Hampton Historical Society. While we’ve presented there in the past, this time we’re invigorated by a different, more soulful and collected mood, inspired by the place where wind-swept natural beauty is underpinned by the residents who give it that “effortlessly cool” vibe. The show itself is located in a barn dating back to 1680—further proof of the lightweight linen, come-as-you-are attitude on this side of the Coast.
When he was developing PAGODA RED’s assemblage for the show, Gallery Manager Michael Keeley looked to the classic, casual Hamptons lifestyle as a starting point. He began building a visual storyboard of the style and mood he wanted to convey: a tactile, elemental sensibility with an easy nature.
“I was especially thinking of the hue of the ocean, the sand, the lawns, the clapboard houses, as well as the modern austere more gallery-like homes, and wanted to bring something to warm them up and give them that feeling,” says Keeley.
He began the process by selecting two rugs to anchor the space, and built up from there. He searched for PAGODA RED pieces with an inherent quiet beauty, handcrafted details and unmistakable quality. Those pure forms and natural characteristics captivate a town that prizes understatement.
Thinking of wooden trays, stone vessels and carpets, Keeley was able to channel low-key East Hamptons informality and everything fell into place.
“We selected pieces that really showed off material and form in a beautiful and casual way, so that was the true concept of this collection,” he says. “It was about bringing out the authentic simplicity of the object: appreciating its history, its age; how it’s worn, the surface—these are not fussy pieces.”
This mood can be translated in the most functional of objects. At the show, PAGODA RED’s vignette will feature stone garden seats, which are impervious to weather.
“They have such a permanence to them, but they also bring an exciting architectural element to soften a hardscape,” says Keeley.
He sees them easily placed between two contemporary lawn chairs or in a home as side tables. From the decorative end, a few blue and white vessels will be making an appearance, as they receive much fanfare and are having more than a moment in design.
To keep the vignette composed, Keeley relied on a softer palette; he chose furniture with clean lines, and a variety of textures, cut with just enough boho-chic interest to appeal to East Hampton’s barefoot-on-the-beach set. Preparing for a show of this sort requires patience and the desire to experiment.
“We stepped back and had to evaluate how the pieces played off each other,” says Keeley, noting that this particular grouping “conveys who we are and our voice at this show. If the object commanded too much attention compared to the others, we removed it,” he says.
As with most creative endeavors, the magic is in the editing. Keeley curated PAGODA RED’s collection down to the essentials. Here, Michael walks us through a few highlights and why they’re making the trek to East Hampton, as PAGODA RED takes this show on the road.
Of this Refectory Table dating back to 1780, Keeley says, “the Welch Oak grain is very distinctive—it was found in a farmhouse; it’s so pure and authentic—incredible for dining; you can easily seat 10 to 12 people.”
“These Buddhas are very peaceful, even though they are of a large scale,” he says of this pair of Gilt Sakaymuni Buddahs with Steles. “I could easily see those flanking a doorway in a home. There’s a serenity to them.”
“This Ancestral Portrait would look incredible in a dining room. It has a muted palette; feels a little worn and wind swept—there’s a softness to it. We have it mounted on linen. It’s not behind glass, which makes it less formal. You feel like you’re a part of it.”
These Polychrome Lotus Architectural Finials are expertly carved. “Each one is carved from a single piece of wood,” says Keeley, but the impact is greater. “They are really exciting how they cast shadows, they almost feel alive! We’ve mounted them on a simple bezel.”
Sometimes you just need a great stand-alone piece. “This Japanese Ikebana Bamboo Basket brings interest and holds its own in a white kitchen,” says Keeley.
In planning the booth, he also thought about the experience of visitor. “We wanted to create the space so that you don’t see it all in the first glance. We want it to unfold,” he says. “It’s like a book with a leather cover that’s worn – it makes you feel really comfortable. And each time, you notice another mark or see another aspect to it.”
Join Us in the Hamptons
East Hampton Antiques Show
Mulford Farm, ca. 1680
East Hampton, Long Island
Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, July 23