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Magazine    September 2001

Thomas Lavin Showroom, with Wendell Castle table and chairs, in Los Angeles

Kevin Kolanowski's mirrored Baldwin sconce

Les Gardiens de Dieu damask from JBN

Joy damask from JBN

Wendell Castle table at Thomas Lavin

A Look at Showrooms

In the United States, showrooms that sell contemporary furniture, fabrics and lighting typically have limited sales to the interior design and architecture trades. But in the last year a few showrooms in Florida's Miami Design District and in California—Protomaster & Company, the JBN Design Group and Thomas Lavin—have opened in areas outside of design centers and some offer special retail pricing for lines of furniture by Karl Springer protégé John Protomaster, Juan Montoya, Wendell Castle, Gary Hutton, Maxine Snider and other home furnishings impresarios as well as mohairs, cashmeres, chenilles, sheers and other luxurious fabrics by innovative designers such as Jeff Wade of JBN.

The Miami Design District, which is separate from the Design Center of the Americas mall, seems to be the hotbed of action. John Protomaster launched Protomaster & Company late last year in partnership with Carlos Queiroz, a cabinetmaker who builds furniture for all of the top interior designers in New York. Protomaster, who for 15 years headed product development for the legendary Karl Springer, has designed two contemporary furniture lines, the Cubist and Reed collections made of white oak and finished in a deep shade of brown, and displays them alongside an eclectic and lively mix of lighting, textiles and decorative accessories in his sublime showroom designed by one of his featured furniture creators, Jiun Ho.

New York interior designer Juan Montoya is debuting a new ensemble of sofas, chairs, dining tables and desks, as well as some antiques from his private collection, at Protomaster. Other lines that are represented are specialty hardware by Wainlands, the Manhattan metal shop that makes or restores railings, gates, tables, lighting and other steel, brass, aluminum, cast iron elements for interior designers and architects; Kevin Kolanowski’s repertoire of mirrored and metal wall sconces in a variety of styles that have been a hit in the designer’s home base of Los Angeles; teak garden furniture from Pearline; and Jiun Ho’s Art Deco-meets-Zen line of furniture.

A short distance from Protomaster is the JBN Design Group, which opened its doors earlier this year. The real attraction at JBN is its small, but exquisite line of couture fabrics for the home, including damasks (left), silks, cottons, linens, chenilles and woven raffia. Rich in texture and bold in design, the fabrics are meant to stand alone. Patterns incorporate large 12th-century Japanese crests, intricately drawn palace peacocks and Ekat designs, stylized Moghul flowers and African motifs.

“Each design can take up the back of a dining chair or an entire wall of curtains, and they’re not really meant to be used with coordinates,” explains JBN co-owner Jeff Wade. “Europeans design rooms using one main fabric for more of an impact, while Americans like to put a different fabric on every upholstered piece. We’re hoping to change that,” adds Wade, who, with one of his partners, Jean-Berenger de Nattes, offers interior design services.

Both JBN and the Protomaster Collection are represented at the Thomas Lavin showroom (top) in Los Angeles, a pioneer in bringing a wide range of high-end contemporary furniture, fabrics, textiles, lighting and accessories to Los Angeles. In just one year, the multi-line showroom, located in the hip Beverly-Robertson shopping district, has amassed nearly 40 contemporary and transitional design lines under one roof.

Lavin's featured furniture lines are by Wendell Castle (left), interior designer Gary Hutton, Jiun Ho and Maxine Snider. A broad array of textiles includes dyed-to-order leathers, raffias and hemps, sheers, chenilles, mohairs, cashmeres and silks—as well as the appliquéd and beaded pillows of 12th Night. Lavin shows many lighting styles, from wrought-iron chandeliers with an authentic-looking antique patina to a streamlined Moderne line. Kolanowski's Beatrice sconce, which has strands of rutilated quartz crystal hanging from its two arms, is a best seller.

Protomaster & Company showroom in Miami's design district

Chair from the Protomaster Collection Bench from the Protomaster Collection

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Protomaster & Company
30 N.E. 40th Street
Miami, FL 33137

JBN Design Group
180 N.E. 39th Street
Miami, FL 33137

Thomas Lavin Showroom
8935 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
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