Back in 1995—when I was still young and naive—a customer walked into my newly-opened store and looked-around approvingly.
"I really like your taste" she said. "Do you have a yellow vase?"
"No," I replied, "but I could find one for you."
"Yes, please do!" she exclaimed.
I asked her to describe the style of vase she would like. "Oh, I don't know. I don't have something particular in mind. Anything is fine. I just want a nice yellow vase to put into my kitchen. I leave it up to you. I like the other things you have here; use your judgement."
Well, that should be easy! I took her name and number and committed to finding her a nice yellow vase within two weeks. Now, in truth, the reason I did not have a yellow vase is because I didn't like yellow vases! But this woman looked like "a live one." I would set-out and get her what she wants. Easy, right?
When I did find her vase, I called her and she came in.
After a long stare at the newly-acquired yellow vase, her nose crinkled and she said, haltingly, "It's--not--what I had in mind. But thanks! Call me when you get another yellow vase!" And, on that, she turned and headed-out the door. At that moment, I learned two lessons: 1. I should never buy something on speculation, I should only buy something which I like (and I can live with); and 2. I hated yellow vases more than ever!
That stupid vase sat in the shop (on a bottom shelf) for three years!
Well, 25 years have passed. And while I still don't like most yellow vases, I have come to appreciate the rare example that perfectly combines form and color. This vase, made in the 1930's by Stangl (New Jersey), combines crisp Art Deco classicism with a sunny shade of bold yellow. And I like it so much, I (briefly) considered keeping it for my personal collection. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
One final point: while it is true that I am not usually drawn to yellow vases, another reason for their scarcity at LEO Design is because I never had a "yellow section" in the shop. Longtime customers know that I merchandised my store in "color stories." In a tight Manhattan storefront, I had to make tough decisions about what I could and could not fit-in to the shop. There was never enough yellow merchandise to create a proper display—and because there was no dedicated "yellow story," I did not buy merchandise in that color. I guess this circular logic exemplifies the classic "chicken or egg" scenario.
Now that I have closed the Manhattan store, and space is far less costly, I have loosened-up on yellow. Now I will buy the (rare) piece of handsome yellow pottery. "Hey, Lady! Are you still looking for a yellow vase?"
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248