Betsy Nathan has always been a collector. The daughter of a renowned Chicago gallerist, she grew up surrounded by an eclectic mix of fine and folk art and objects curated from around the world. After a stint in Beijing in the 1990s, where she studied Chinese craftsmanship, she returned to Chicago to open her first showroom, Pagoda Red, in 1997. Last year she moved into a vastly larger warehouse space in Bucktown, where her entire 4,000-piece collection of global fine arts and antiques is now available for designers and the public alike to browse. While there are many treasures to be discovered at Pagoda Red, we called on Nathan to share a few of her other favorite spots for sourcing goods around the city.
ROBIN RICHMAN BUCKTOWN
“Robin is amazing at creating interesting juxtapositions between clothes, jewelry and accessories. I go here to buy Mad et Len Lava Rocks, which are infused with perfume. They release an earthy spirit when you burn them, and I like to use them in the powder room.”
LE LABO WICKER PARK
“In China, I had an otherworldly experience when a friend introduced me to traditional incense–the kind that oozes from trees. It’s impossible to find locally, but it turned me on to rich, gentle, moody fragrances and beautiful incense burners to disperse them. I recently purchased Le Labo‘s amulet (a portable diffuser) as a gift for a friend. It becomes very personal when you infuse the stone within with a hand-blended fragrance specially made for the person you are giving it to.”
ASRAI GARDEN WICKER PARK
“Pagoda Red and Asrai Garden opened around the same time. We grew up together, so the designers understand our objects and containers. They know how to marry nature’s shapes and colors in fresh, modern ways. They use flowers and greens to frame, rather than overpower, a select object.”
“If you don’t want to wait months for a sofa, Interior Define is a great choice. They feel custom, the process is easy and the price can’t be beat. I’m working with a client now who wants her place finished fast, so we just ordered the Sloan Sectional in a plush onyx fabric.”