Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Wesco Fabrics showroom at the Denver Design District.

We opened our showroom at the Denver Design District 19 years ago. Marla and I collected Asian art and had an affinity for Japanese antiques, so we traveled extensively, personally selecting unique items to sell to designers. For a long period of time our showroom had a decidedly Asia feel. Growing up, my grandmother used to take me to Gump’s in San Francisco. My mother’s china cabinet and grandfather's Satsuma bowls hooked me at an early age.

Today, the Wesco Fabric's showroom has evolved by offering a very eclectic assortment of furniture and accessories from around the world. Travel with me on buying trips to exotic locales. We will start in Japan and venture to Bali, France, Thailand, and Holland in later posts. Have your passports ready!

Konichiwa.” Welcome to Japan. We traveled on the Shinkasen “Bullet” train to Kyoto in the early 1990’s. I’m at the breathtaking Kiyomizu Temple built in 1633.

Mr. Nakura, the brother of a friend from San Francisco, was our agent and guide to the intricacies of sourcing Japanese antiques.

Fabulous Imari porcelain.

Many customers loved our Japanese dolls. We bought these Meiji period (1868-1912) Samurai warrior dolls.

A number of our purchases were in the homes of private antique dealers in small villages outside of Kyoto. We always enjoyed the hospitality of having tea before any business.

This gorgeous porcelain Hibachi was originally used to heat a room in a traditional home. We had to clean out the ashes from the bowl.

In a cold warehouse in the hills above Kyoto we found some great tansu chests. The futon dansu, stored bedding from the 1890’s.

Tansu and porcelain in a dealer’s showroom.

I found some 19th century millstones. We continue to buy them for everything from decorative garden stepping stones to sculpture.

We bought this lovely Mizuya dansu, or kitchen chest.

Checking our invoices.

Private dealers display their stock at temple sales in Japan. You must arrive early to find the best stuff.

Designers use beautiful obi (sashes originally worn with a kimono) as table runners, wallhangings , or even in custom clothing.

The entrance to a very old tea house in old Kyoto.

The art of the bow after a traditional wedding.

A young maiko, or apprentice geisha, is on her way to a tea house in the Gion district of Kyoto. It is difficult for a non-Japanese person to obtain entrance to many traditional tea houses with a geisha performance. An evening can cost upwards of $300 to over $1000 per person. There are tourist performances in hotels and theatres. Click on this YouTube clip from the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.”


Welcome cats, or maneki neko, in a store window.

I’m exhausted from shopping! We had a traditional Japanese hotel room with tatami mats. The bed is made on top of the mats in the evening by attendants.

I hope you enjoyed our buying trip. Join me in other exotic places in my next post, searching for wonderful treasures.

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for the wonderful visual tour of Bali. I would love to visit there. But most of all, congrats to Marla on her amazing strength and courage in the face of cancer. My mother was diagnosed in 1996 with an aggressive breast cancer. She also endured mastectomy, radiation, high-dose chemo, and a stem-cell transfer. It recurred in 2001. More treatments. I am proud to say she has been in remission since then. These women are truly amazing. I wish you both so much goodness.