Imports evoke images of exotic places, travels

"On the road to Mandalay; Where the flyin’ fishes play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the bay." Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), English author, "Mandalay" (1890)


One of the joys of having the fabulous World Market Center here in Las Vegas is getting to preview the latest and greatest before it actually appears in retail outlets.

The most recent market in July didn’t disappoint with hundreds of showrooms jammed with new product displays, both from domestic manufacturers and suppliers, and a huge number of international ones. I happen to be a big fan of import furniture, not that it’s any better or fancier or has more status — I just happen to appreciate a lot of the designs.

Regular readers may recall that I have mentioned many times that Asian design, in particular, is one of my favorites. These designs can come from China, India, Bali or any of the far-flung places that invoke mystique and romance.

Not so long ago, the perception was that having furniture that had been manufactured in another country was only for the very rich or eccentric; and those folks who had it in their homes always had wildly exciting stories about "picking up this bombé chest in a dark, curvy alley in Marrakesh where the shopkeeper served strange, aromatic tea and you were at once in love and frightened by the whole experience."

Well, maybe not to that extent, but you get the picture. Let’s just say everybody didn’t have imported furniture and those who did were special, weird or whatever adjective we could use that emulated different.

Not so much today. For many years now, imported furniture has been available to the masses in any number of import stores, the most familiar being Pier 1 or Cost Plus World Market. And, import furniture has found its way into mainstream showrooms at markets such as our World Market Center Las Vegas, High Point, N.C., and the L.A. Mart in Los Angeles.

Today, if you have pieces of imported furniture in your home, you just, plain and simply put, have good taste. You may not want a houseful of Asian chinoiserie or heavy Mexican carved wood pieces, but when sprinkled in with other furnishings, import pieces just make everything more interesting and exciting.

Needless to say that since I like imports, I am instinctively drawn to these showrooms and stores. At the recent market, I ran across a new line and it is available at the Four Hands showroom at the Las Vegas Design Center at World Market Center year-round.

The line is called Old Java and it originates in Indonesia, south of Jakarta. Old Java is a hand-crafted, reclaimed-teak collection that exhibits sophisticated design with both classic and contemporary lines. It also recycles waste wood to make smaller items such as lamp bases, boxes, candle-holders, etc.

I’ve talked a lot about sustainable design and living lighter on the planet. Old Java is doing its part. It is part of the "Trees 4 Trees" program, an initiative of private manufacturers to support agricultural schools and to work with farmers and villagers to teach and promote environmentally friendly practices. Nice! I love folks who give back.

These pieces from Old Java would be a great addition to spice up your décor — and if you are adventurous, you can make up your own story to tell your friends. Old Java doesn’t need much embellishment, but who doesn’t like a good story?

Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home section of the Review-Journal. Send questions to

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