Boutique by Design

by Pamela Hughes

Our end of the design business is boutique by nature.  The word “boutique” means a small specialty shop.  And while we design projects from large, grand and elaborate hotels and premier residences, we like to feel that we too are a specialty shop.  You get individual, personalized service, and especially custom, unique designs. 

For this we depend upon not only on our firm’s talented staff, but a host of remarkable resources that we have found over the years.  We have developed a great rapport between these owners and artisans and can call on them to produce elements for our projects that can be found nowhere else.

We’ll give you glimpse into some of them for you here.  A few of them are even local to Sarasota, and others work for us from around the country to across the seas.

When we were working on the designs for The Concession, the prestigious new golf resort here, we commissioned a series of custom light fixtures and even casegoods from a great company in Los Angeles.  Paul Ferrante has been fabricating specialized lighting, some of it replicating antique fixtures.  They have developed over the years a group of talented international artisans from Europe, Mexico and the United States, who have learned or brought with them, skills that are fast disappearing.  They can shape metal and glass, they can finish it with a high polish, or a soft and alluring patina.  They can carve wood and copy an antique (if we need more than one).  And they do it all with great elan and care.  They are easy to work with and produce elements that transcend the merely functional into charming and attractive objects.

Another great resource we used at The Concession is Woven Legends.  This company is a treasure.  They are located on the east coast, but their workrooms are half a planet away.  They make hand-knotted rugs in a time-tested and traditional manner.  What is unique is that we can work with them to make traditional patterns - which we can expand or shrink to suit the size of the rug and color them to suit our palette.  After we have done our design work with them, they transmit the specified designs and colors electronically to Turkey where the information is taken by motorbike out into remote villages.  Here, local craftswomen sit at ancient looms, just as they have for centuries, and tie knots by the thousands.  The result is a series of glorious rugs that will be heirlooms to be treasured by the next generations of Club members.

On a smaller scale, we have an artist in steel, Thomas Clarkson, who can make delicate looking flowers out of wrought iron.  His anvil is in Atlanta and his work for us includes fireplace screens - either handsomely classical, or with whimsical local references, like shells and sea creatures.  They make a wonderful and subtle touch at the hearth.

Closer to home, we often call on Bill Hartman of the William Hartman Gallery on Palm Avenue.  He provides professional and careful framing for many of the fine art procurements we make for our clients.  Working with Bill is easy; he has the resources and a great eye along with the experience, which makes the process a pleasure.  He also now has a great trove of vintage photographs of “old Sarasota” that are a great find.

So, all this talk of boutiques has put me in a shopping mood, so off to the pleasures of searching for a treasure for a bargain.  


Hughes Design Associates