It’s been over 30 years since brothers Mark and Rex Panther opened furniture specialist Brougham Interiors in North Vancouver, and for the past 15, they’ve made a point of carrying Baker’s American classics. This spring, as they celebrate the three-year anniversary of relocating to an expansive, 15,000-square-foot showroom in Vancouver’s Armoury District, they have another milestone to recognize: a space for Baker to call its own.
In the refurbished “annex” adjacent to their showroom at West 2nd Avenue and Fir Street, a bright, sleek area houses a multitude of the American brand’s designs from industry heavyweights such as Barbara Barry, Laura Kirar, Jacques Garcia, Bill Sofield, and Thomas Pheasant, the latter of whom was recently on hand with the Panther brothers to offer a preview of the new space.
“Baker is one brand that is truly sophisticated and elegant, and it requires its own space to be translated properly,” explains Mark. “Any collection requires a certain amount of product to be displayed to have a meaningful presentation, and because of the detailing on the Baker pieces—the style and the finishing—it requires the space so that you can see it in the proper context.”
Baker’s collections are inspired by various historical periods, which the company is well versed in. From the brand’s founding years in the late 1800s, Baker’s lines have come to reflect the spirit of the West, the postwar influence of the Far East, and the modern classics of today—all while maintaining a commitment to Old World craftsmanship, a point that was reinforced further when Kohler bought the company in 1986. Pheasant joined the company’s designer roster in 2002 and is contributing his own bit of history to the Baker bloodline: a pair of night tables from his inaugural Baker line are now at Blair House, the official state guest house of the President of the United States, which he was invited to redesign. “I’m playing with colour, I’m playing with pattern,” says Pheasant. “It should reflect America—it should reflect the best of what we have to offer within the romance of this history.”
That history stands out in the upscale designs of Baker’s current lines—including Pheasant’s Blossom Mirror, inspired by a kimono with cherry blossoms—which shine bright in Brougham’s new space. Speaking to the creative freedom and encouragement given by Baker, Pheasant reveals that the process for creating the piece was incredibly hands-on. “At a factory in Italy, they made me 500 of these different shapes, and I just laid them out on the floor and they welded it just as I had it. The next day, I used pink and yellow Post-its to show where I wanted the crystals to go. It could have just been a drawing, but it wouldn’t have been as good because I got to create it with them right there, and it gave us a better product.”
Clearly, the Panther brothers are eager to show off Baker’s detailed products to Vancouver’s design community. “It’s terrific because it’s so open. With the tall ceilings, light colours, and all-glass front, it has more of a modern execution for classic pieces,” says Mark. “And the reality is, this is just a little snapshot of what is available in the collections.”
Photo: ©2013 EMA Peter Photography.