TASTEMAKER: a conversation with Anne Hart

Text: Mary Greene | Photographs: Anne Hart

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OCH: People who visit your store, Domesticities & the Cutting Garden in Youngsville, NY, often comment on how inviting it is and attractive to browse through. What are your secrets?
AH: It is important to make people who visit the store feel welcomed and comfortable. One of the ways to do that is to make it easy for them to maneuver through and to see what is across the room as well as right in front of them. For me, a sense of light and space is most conducive to a good browse. There are several key vendors, and rather than arrange their goods in a space just their own, we try to group things in logical places that people can easily find. It is also fun creating vignettes that suggest a little story.
OCH: Do you consider color, shape, texture, etc. when arranging things in your store?
AH: I tend to think of seasons in terms of colors, and that affects the kind of things I buy for the new and fair trade section of the store, as well as the displays throughout. The local artists that we feature are always coming up with new work, and it’s great to showcase that work, which also leads to a rearrangement of display.
OCH: How did you learn the design skills that you have?
AH: I grew up in a family that placed importance on “the way things look,” and simple design concepts were introduced to me and my brother in the same way that we learned how to ride a bike or swim. My mother loved flower arranging, and won many awards. When we showed her our newly designed logo, her first comment was that it was traditional ikebana design, representing “heaven, man, earth.” It was unconscious on our part!
OCH: Do you carry these ideas into your home, and how can others create space that is attractive, liveable and uplifting in their own homes?
AH: I live in an old house, and spent some time letting the house tell me how to furnish it. It took about five years to find the right china cabinet for the kitchen. I appreciate a mix of old and new and the house reflects that. It pleases me to create a small display of antique Chinese pottery, mid-century modern pottery and a new piece by a local potter. I do believe that “less is more.” There are collectors who believe that if you are going to collect something, it is better to have 30 than just three. I’d say keep the very best three and enjoy them to the fullest. It’s better to be able to see what you love, than lose it in a cabinet or on a shelf. I believe that your home should be your refuge, and arranged in a way that gives you the most peace.
OCH: In season, your customers can pick wonderful bouquets of fresh flowers from your garden next to the store. What is it about flowers that are so special?
AH: As a customer once remarked to her impatient husband, “beauty is necessary, too.” Both small bouquets and large arrangements do a lot to bring the beauty of nature into the home. The very act of placing them in a vase and arranging them makes you stop and consider each bloom. It’s humbling to think that flowers evolved their various shapes and colors to attract pollinators that will ensure their survival. There is a civility to flowers. Flowers also follow the season, with something new in bloom almost every week. It’s an inexpensive way to “redecorate” regularly.


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