The Dallas Design District is an interesting destination in Dallas! A mix of designer showrooms, art galleries, antique and home decor retail stores, emerging restaurants, and even a hip bowling alley, I always enjoy spending the day “treasure hunting.” One of my favorite haunts….the eclectic Griffin Trading Company.
The charming proprietor of Griffin Trading Company is Stephen Hansrote, and he’s been in the decorative arts business for a long time! While eyeing several of the awesomely eclectic pieces he has in his Howell Street gallery, I was able to interview him about how he got into the business.
Q: Stephen, I love your gallery, and pretty much want everything in here! Tell me how you started!
A: My wife is an interior designer, and many years ago she worked closely with several restaurants and bars, finding art and accessories to decorate the spaces. Sort of creating a visual theme through the pieces she would identify and install. My role was to help her procure the pieces, and I thoroughly enjoyed the hunt, but eventually wanted to do something more than simply shop for others. I was finding so many pieces that were fantastic, but didn’t meet the theme requirements of her clients, and letting those pieces go became harder and harder.
I got a space for the pieces that really spoke to me personally, and that one space eventually became five spaces, including booths in area antique malls throughout the Dallas area, and even storage units.
Q: Oh my gosh, I totally relate. My husband and I are both HUGE collectors, and while we try to fit in everything we collect in our home, we have two warehouses with the overflow.
A: Yes, I think all collectors are the same. Unless you collect thimbles, and then storage is not such a problem. I was collecting industrial pieces, large mid-century lighting and art, antique doors…basically items that needed a large space to really be seen properly.
And, because I had been “picking” for so many years on behalf of my wife’s clients, when many of those restaurants closed, I got the call to come see if I wanted to buy anything for myself. And in those days, the decor was not reproduction. It was the real deal. Real 1920’s tennis racquets, real mid-century canoes, authentic 1950’s vintage jean jackets, porcelain signs, neon lights. My taste and interests are varied, and I amassed quite a collection.
So, I knew that I needed to consolidate all my things in one location, and I bought my current space on Howell Street.
Q: Who is your primary client, these days?
A: I work very closely with many residential designers who are looking for that special one-of-a-kind piece for their clients. For example, French, Italian and Danish mid-century pieces are highly sought-after, and I always have a good assortment. European service pieces, like bar-carts…I can’t keep those for long at all before they get scooped up. And in addition to working with The Trade, of course, I love clients like you, who come to my gallery, not necessarily looking for one particular piece, but want eclectic, unique and well-made pieces. I love to offer Hans Wegner sets, Brno and Barcelona chairs designed by Mies Van Der Rohe…truly iconic pieces.
Q: Are most of your clients local to Dallas?
A: Not at all. My client list is all over the world, and with our recently redesigned website, it’s easier to see our current collection, as well as create a “wish list” of items clients want me to keep an eye out for. I’ve also found Instagram to be a great marketing platform for Griffin Trading Company (@griffintrading). I often get calls and emails from pieces I have featured on Social Media! It’s a Brave New World for sure!
I chuckled! Yes, it sure is!
I know that many of my readers are avid “treasure seekers” and I highly recommend checking out Griffin Trading Company’s web site…and even better, stopping by! Stephen is open Monday-Saturday 10:00-5:30, or by appointment. I’m always a big fan of gallery owners and dealers who hold sacred those real and authentically eclectic objects that make a space infinitely more interesting!
All photos courtesy of Griffin Trading Company.
When in the Dallas Design District, be sure and stop by The Dallas Contemporary. I wrote a post on this cool space not long ago, as well as this post highlighting other funky and cool shopping destinations in The Big D!