At PRIMITIVE, you can discover unmatched collections of authentic collectible art, antiques and objects from just about every corner of the world. However, they have been joined by additional collections created by some of the world’s most formidable designers. Paired together, like fine wine and a memorable meal, PRIMITIVE puts everything in a context to illustrate how people really live with what they collect.
As you enter PRIMITIVE on the first floor, a collection of rare African tunics is immediately seen. Examine them more closely from a contemporary leather chair designed by Oly Studio or choose to linger over a case of exotic jewelry designed by Lou Guerin. Next to the case sits some of the finest tribal silver jewelry available today. It doesn’t take long to see the correspondence between old ethnic pieces and modern designs. Walk across 1,000 year old stone floors to the Five Elements Library. You’ll pass by the Incense Room, where you can savor PRIMITIVE’s own brand of Agar and Sandalwood incense. Nearby are collections of antique Chinese jade and gemstone jewelry. Inside the library see a world class collection of colorful dolls from Ghana called Spirit Spouses. You ask yourself, how can there be so many pieces of such a rare thing. The answer is simple: it’s PRIMITIVE, a place where you can see big collections of rare objects. Take a Spirit Spouse off the shelf and place it on an antique Chinese table for further study. Sink into a Writer’s Chair designed by Ralph Lauren. In the world of contemporary furniture it is famous, and with good reason. The design is inspired, the craftsmanship impeccable, the presence undeniable. Open a book about Spirit Spouses, but before embarking on the subject look around the library. There are more objects in this room alone than in most stores; and then it becomes apparent – PRIMITIVE is not a museum! It’s a world-class store! And you feel right at HOME!
Exiting the elevator and turning right, full blown room settings feature furniture and lighting by top designers. Having taken the international design world by storm, she’s found at PRIMITIVE. Immediately, the motif engraved into her Trousdale Dining table is seen as a perfect match for a rare Kuba textile being used as a runner. It occurs to you: the basis of modernism is found in the art and objects that can be acquired at PRIMITIVE. The quartz crystal hanging from her Halcyon chandelier is a perfect complement to the unusual crystal laden Chinese Gongshi situated on her Roxbury Console. Just then, two one-of-a-kind petrified wood tables seem to float off the top of a Moroccan Giant White rug. They are situated by Kelly’s Melrose Sofa. How can something so old be so complementary to something so new? This is a look I can embrace, is a thought that enters your mind. It becomes necessary to take a breather after contemplating all the input so far and considering how to live with what’s been seen. The word overwhelmed surfaces. No matter what the sight line, great objects and furnishings are in view.
Nearby, the Buddha Room beckons. Inside, a sense of calm is immediately felt. Just like Dorothy wasn’t in Kansas, you’re not in Chicago anymore. Perhaps it’s Tibet, Nepal, China, Thailand or India? Buddhas and statuary from all those places carry on a peaceful conversation inside the room. Their dialogue compels you to consider how art and objects affect us deeply. Exiting the Buddha Room, a giant black lingam from India requires a wish be made by pouring water over its slick surface. Keep the wish to yourself and odds are it will come true! Refreshed, go to the Maharaja’s fantasy apartment at the rear of the second floor – One Raj Place. How can one space be filled with such a mosaic of treasures? Look up to see a pair of Oly Ariel Chandeliers shedding light on the trove. Their design references Edwardian crystal chandeliers, but there is no crystal, just opaque resin balls. Learning Oly does very innovative cast designs; the mood for real crystal emerges when a Ralph Lauren Marie Chandelier laden with rock and lead crystal is seen in the next room. It sheds light on a collection of Chinese celadon crackle ware ceramics housed inside an AERIN bookcase. Adjacent is a series of Brian Sindler plein air landscape paintings. The award winning painter brings a moody sense of the outdoors inside the magnificent space. Looking through the Maharaja’s Puja Room – another treasure trove – a collection of colorful drawings by Bob Meyer compels examination. Each painting tells a relevant, meaningful story. They are hung by a collection of Indian miniature bronzes from the 19th century and earlier. Somehow, all these things relate. There is magic in the Maharaja’s apartment; and regrouping, it is time to move to the third floor.
Turn right into the Oly space and be greeted by a French industrial look. Pass thru a wire glass doorway like you might find in a Paris bistro and stare back at a rare Dogon mask from Mali. Its form and color completely resonate with the nearby Flynn Lounge Chairs in “dragon gray” leather and the light gray leather of the Jonathan Bench sitting firmly on the steel floor. The floor is inspirational and innovative. Looking down, it’s impossible not to notice the hoofed legs of the Faline Library Table. They appear animated, like they are ready to walk. The table is the epitome of functional art. On top sits a rare French copper table lamp. Above is a Mark Westervelt painting and around the corner a collection of colorful Beijing glass vases. The vista contains a Mongolian landscape rug near indigo Mossi pillows, Tanzanian figurative sculptures, colorful framed butterflies, Tibetan armor, ancient stone statuary and two abstracted Lega masks from the deepest, darkest heart of Africa. They feel so modern! All are illuminated by a collection of engaging cast chandeliers. The whole scene is a riot of like minded sensibilities happily co-existing, playing off each other to tell a complete lifestyle story. A thought ascends. I can live like this! Then it’s off to the textile department, but not before pausing to see a beautiful collection of rare Kuchi-e Japanese woodblock prints in the Paintings, Prints and Drawings Department. Sitting in one of a pair of Dutch sheep leather lounge chairs to see how it feels, a mental note is made. It reads, great patina, fits like a glove! An original French Art Deco “salt blasted” console and a collection of pre-historic knapped blades beautifully based and displayed on its top are seen from the sheep leather vignette. Hanging above the console are more blades framed in a shadow box. Nearby, a bronze statue of Milarepa, the great teacher, sends a visual invitation. It sits on top of a 200 year old Buddha Stand – one of the most distinctive pieces of furniture found in PRIMITIVE’s extensive inventory of antique Chinese lacquered and painted furniture. Walk past a collection of illuminated terrestrial globes. Their light is so romantic it is easy to imagine traveling to any of the destinations they illuminate. Inside the Textile Department lies a startling collection of hand knotted rugs and tribal trappings. A Shoowa cloth panel makes a perfect mat for a nightstand in your home. Carry it to the fourth floor to see if this is true; and be prepared for the beauty and elegance found when the elevator doors open.
It could be in Paris, New York, Chicago; but wherever it is, and whoever the occupant is; they have a refined sensibility and an eye for beauty and meaning. It’s evident everywhere in this space. At one end of the foyer sits another rare Chinese Spirit Stone, part of a much greater collection of these compelling objects. Stepping into the dining room/library, the Ralph Lauren Duke Dining table is extended to its full 10 feet. It is surrounded by a group of eight Duke Dining Chairs, the brightness of their nail heads reflecting the beauty of the antique Persian Heriz rug underneath. The bookcases contain shipwreck vessels from Indonesia, Scholar’s Rocks from China, Ceremonial Wine Cups from the Congo, nocturne paintings by Brian Sindler, and Bronze Sculptures from France. Nearby, a Ralph Lauren One Fifth Bar Trolley supports a collection of RL cut crystal decanters and glasses. They dance in the light of an RL Berling Billiard Light, completely at home, suspended in a perfect eclectic balance. The PRIMITIVE tag line comes to mind: Living + Collecting.
A smile comes across your face as the meaning becomes clear, and it gets bigger as you pass through the study. Over the Graham Sofa sits a painting of a T-Rex. The Stone Age never looked so good; and neither did the RL Langham Desk. It sits near a rug cobbled together from Kurdish tent bands, which sits under the Ralph Lauren One Fifth Nesting Cocktail Tables in Black Shagreen. This is turning into a fun excursion! Become absorbed in a collection of miniature African Bronzes in a case on the table, and then turn your attention to the bedroom. The palette is soft and soothing. A porcelain Laughing Buddha keeps watch on the RL Gueridon table next to the Heiress Bed. Perhaps the Buddha could watch over you at night? The Shoowa Cloth Panel is still in your hands. Place it on the table and realize it will fit perfectly in your existing bedroom. Now the living room beckons. Bathed in natural light from the immense skylight above, the RL Desert Modern Sectional has been updated with pillows fabricated from PRIMITIVE’s collection of museum grade Kuba Cloth. It makes perfect design sense. Behind the sofa stands a pair of antique Chinese compound cabinets. The painting on their doors is so interesting, further study is mandated. However, it’s impossible to contemplate the cabinets because the Duke Bar – one of the most famous pieces designed by Ralph Lauren – steals the sight line and the show. Its side doors are reminiscent of a gull wing coupe. The inspiration is evident. With cars in mind, Cuban photographs of classic cars are visible in the study. An unusual south of the border theme surfaces in the form of Magic Chuccu Tablets from the Ariquippa area of Peru. From the 13th century; they marry perfectly with the Ralph Lauren brass and mahogany bookcases where they are displayed.
Relax on one of a pair of Temple Club Chaises to consider all that you’ve seen on your journey through the new PRIMITIVE. Photographers call it a “target rich” environment. Collectors call it “paradise.” Critics singing its praises say it is stocked with “eye candy.” Designers from all over the world call it one of their “most valuable resources.” Everywhere you’ve looked, extraordinary collectible treasures – from functional objects to rare cultural antiquities made from just about every material – have been married to furnishings made notable by their design and craftsmanship. The marriages appear idyllic. Perhaps there is truth in the phrase opposites attract. Contradictions – old versus new, one-of-a-kind versus repeatable, decorative versus deeply meaningful, sophisticated versus casual, opulent versus minimal – are all surprisingly and pleasantly compatible. The new PRIMITIVE fully illustrates how people live with what they collect. It is not limited by cultural or stylistic boundaries. Everything presented and perceived on your journey has generated a more expansive dialogue giving new meaning and understanding to the phrase “be primitive.”