SMITTEN WITH DESIGN

sf gate

SFGateSan Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 2002

SMITTEN WITH DESIGN

Oakland is destination for Art Deco fans In the midst of Oakland’s ’20s-era neighborhood along Grand Avenue, Richard Fishman, known to Art Deco aficionados as “Mr. Rick,” has opened two stores that rival Paris with their inventory of furniture and accessories of that fabled period. ”Where else can you find 30 French chandeliers, all in working condition?” Fishman asked rhetorically, gesturing to the startling array of lighting fixtures along the ceiling, some of them quite modern. Fishman started Art Deco Collection.Com as a Web site before deciding he wanted to have a showroom as well. “I want to find those people in the East Bay who want to have something in this era and also bring people from San Francisco and other areas here,” he said. Noting his proximity to I-580, he added, “I -couldn’t have made it any simpler.” In truth, Fishman opened his store in this neighborhood because it evokes his greatest love, the Art Deco era. He lives a few blocks away at the Bellevue Staten, a regal 1929 Art Deco apartment building overlooking Lake Merritt. The founder of Le Sport Sac and Traveling Light stores in the 1980s, Fishman dove into Art Deco culture 15 years ago in San Francisco when he encountered the Art Deco Society. “There were all these people celebrating the past in a way that’s such great fun.” He deals only in European pieces because of their superior craftsmanship, and specializes in lighting fixtures, glassware and ceramics as well as that big Art Deco hallmark, cocktail and barware. His ceramics, from Boch in Belgium, show the evolution of Art Nouveau to Art Deco with the gradual change from floral and ornate to streamline

smitten
(Bronze scarf dancer by Kelety, 1925).

smitten

He also has stunning decanters with matching glasses from the Czech Republic ranging from $400 to $1,000 One of his prizes, a French-made double cocktail bar ($9,500) is made of layers of veneer, with the wood pattern perfectly matched and finished. Art Deco designers “were able to take functional objects to another level,” he said. Fishman strives to appeal to lovers of 1950s and ’60s mid-century modern with his collection. Much design from the Art Deco era, roughly 1925 to 1945, was so advanced it -didn’t reach the mainstream for awhile and is sometimes mistaken for that later period, he said. His newest venture, Art Deco Furniture, opened just two months ago, two doors down from his first, and features complete dining and parlor sets. One of his sidelines is custom-made Art Deco style stereo sound speakers — for purists, of course ($6,800).Since Art Deco style appears to have weathered the trendy stage, Fishman encourages people who are enchanted with it to make the investment. ”Everything I have bought has gone up in value,” he said. “Buy only one thing, but buy that one great thing.” Art Deco Collection.Com is open noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday or by appointment. 546 Grand Ave., Oakland. (510) 465-1920. Go online at www.artdecocollection.com. - Laura Thomas

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