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Collector’s Edition: Creating a Good Life

In our 20+ years of collecting extraordinary objects at PAGODA RED, we’ve had the honor of forging deep and interesting  relationships with our clients. Exploring things together, we share stories of the hunt — the ones that got away, likes and dislikes, dreams and renovation blunders. Over time, these intimacies build meaningful friendships with mutual understanding and trust.

We’ve come to learn the unique tastes of these friends, designers, collectors, scholars, and artists all over the world. There is the woman in Hawaii who has thoughtfully been creating a shrine in the center of her space, the couple on the North Shore with their a secret doorway to the upper level of their ravine home where they sip coffee amidst acquired curiosities, the man with the tool belt around his swim trunks who created a stunning rock garden with Chinese meditation stones… it goes on and on.

We are lucky to be invited into homes, both in person and now virtually, to help source and style. Together we create truly unique environments. We see the bones of wonderful homes converse with collections of art and personal charms.

An example of chinoiserie with European regency influence.

We are excited about our recent acquisition of an exceptional Chicago Gold Coast estate. This collector was a philanthropist and supremely dedicated to bettering education, access to health care, and public/cultural spaces in Chicago. We were lucky enough to know her through much of her collecting life. She lived and loved travelling, exploring and weaving it all into her exciting elegance. Her space was a comfortably graceful expression of 18th and 19th-century European and Chinese curio. Follow along with us, as we explore the depth of this estate, what kind of objects are within, and what makes it so remarkable.

The Maker’s Hand

19th-century Glazed Temple Jar

When exploring the common thread that exists in her collected objects, there is a recurring presence of the maker. This manifests in imperfect glazing, provincial materials, and distinctive one-of-a-kind objects handcrafted with techniques achieved only by proficient artisans.

Tibetan Hide Trunk, circa 1900

The richness of an object that hasn’t been mass-produced is otherworldly. Each has a story of the artist to tell — you just have to slow down, look and listen.

Collecting for Connecting

Pair of Sancai Fu Dog Incense Burners

Antique objects provide a connection to history — it is a physical link to traditional culture and beliefs. In our current world, Google gives the feeling you can transcend time (with quick access to endless information), but historic objects are actually pure time-travel, so to speak.

Japanese Gilt Black Lacquer Tea Chest

Take this Edo-period Tea Chest, for example. The time spent to precisely build and adorn every surface is astounding, especially for household storage. The artful expression from design to decoration lifts our spirits and brings us back to a time when the humble act of tea preparation was revered and elevated.

Virtue over Value

Buddha’s Hand Citron Offering Fruit

Our favorite kind of collections are those that are idiosyncratic and full of passion. This collector was expressing her true self and was primarily unmotivated by market value. She liked what she liked. This is something that can’t be taught. Singular visions are cultivated; and it’s so beautiful to see one unfold here.

Pair of Black Lacquer Ladies’ Chairs

We imagine the collector was moved by the humble, unusual forms of these chairs, pictured above. Influenced by European designs, these early 20th-century perches are uniquely sculptural and add a certain quirk to their surroundings.

Ultimately, these objects are a reflection of a distinctive individual — a collector who was a force of nature. She effortlessly mixed objects that lacked pretension and surrounded herself with tokens of intrigue, spirit, and history. Now that’s what we call a good life.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, William Alfred Delamotte, 1840

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