Designer for Hire

My Space


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Continuing our series on Tucsonans’ favorite spaces, historic preservation expert Demion Clinco tells the story of a 1940’s armchair.

Photo by Gillian Drummond

“I bought this chair in Sedona, from a vintage store. I’m guessing it’s from the 1940s. It was in the middle of winter and it was snowing and it was my aunt’s funeral. There were histrionics. Her ex-lover turned up. And in the midst of it all I was like ‘Oh my God, I have to have this chair!’

“Getting it back to Tucson was quite the production. My family and I had driven up there in a Volvo sedan and I was all for strapping it to the top of the Volvo and hoping for the best. In the end the ex-lover drove it to Phoenix, although he didn’t do it for a few months, so the chair and I didn’t see each other for some time.

A Picasso bowl – another secondhand find for Demion. Photo by Gillian Drummond

“I have a rule that if I buy something I get rid of something. When I do buy I much prefer to buy vintage. It’s green, and there’s so much more value to it. The ceramic bowl by the chair is by Picasso, from an antique shop. I’m pretty sure the owner didn’t know it was original.

“I bought this house, just south of Armory Park, in 2007. It was falling down, but I really wanted to be in an up-and-coming neighborhood that needed an advocate. I also wanted to be close to downtown Tucson and it’s close to the Mexican food district. If there was something original I could keep, I did. We restored the wood floors and door frames, and I had the kitchen cabinets repainted. There’s even a chandelier still hanging that looks like it’s been there since 1924, when the house was built.”

Demion Clinco is CEO of Frontier Consulting Group and president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. You can see his History Moment series on KUAT Channel 6.

Square Feet


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Michelle Hotchkiss, real estate agent and mid century fiend, has square feet and a nose for great property. Each issue she brings us her pick of the week.

living room of Highland Avenue

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

Michelle Hotchkiss real estate agent

Photo by Ellie Leacock

Where it is: Rincon Heights

Listed by:  Long Realty

The damage: $395,00

You’ll love it because: This is a compact, perfect, smaller, low-maintenance home just blocks from the U of A.  It’s energy efficient everything, with Rastra block construction.  People aren’t always aware of all the “off-gassing” that goes on in new homes and remodels, but it’s nice to see this one has used all natural paints and finishes inside, and non-formaldahyde cabinetry.

Here comes the but: All those upgrades to create such a beautiful home make this house an expensive one on a tiny lot. It works out at $386 per square foot.

Find more of Michelle’s property picks at Atomic Tucson

kitchen of Highland Avenue

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

living room of Highland Avenue

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

outside of Highland Avenue

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

Arizona is his middle name


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He makes his living behind a viewfinder, but makes a point of not living life through a lens. Meet Tucson-based photographer Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli.

If you know the work of photographer/TV presenter Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli, he’s the last person you think you’d find posing for a photo on Santa’s knee.

His resume includes National Geographic, Lonely Planet TV and Metropolitan Living. His website includes a snap from a photoshoot with Sting. He’s recently been making music videos. And when he’s not taking travel photos, he tends to create elaborate, highly styled images: a woman in a bathtub in a blood-smeared dress; a Steam Punk-esque scene  in an airplane graveyard; vampires; a mermaid.

The guy could easily have stayed in Los Angeles (where he went to college), grown an even fatter and more impressive resume, and an ego to boot. But instead he settled in Tucson. Why? For one thing, he thinks cities on the verge – satellites of the major metropolises – are more interesting. For another, he’s not into big egos.

Dominic on location
Photo courtesy of Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

Which is why on his Facebook page he unabashedly shows a recent photo of him and his girlfriend on Saint Nick’s knee at Tucson Mall. Dominic isn’t exactly grinning, and he can’t help but take a cynical tone with his comment: “Santa only smelled slightly of bourbon and despair.” But it’s telling that he even did it. It’s even more telling that every Christmas he dresses up his Jack Russell Terrier for a photoshoot with Santa at Petsmart.

His images may be lavish, epic, often very dark, but the guy himself likes to keep his feet on the ground, and is just about the most open, friendly, un-brooding person you could meet.

Dominic’s route to Tucson was a circuitous one. Brought up near Spokane, Washington, he moved to L.A. to attend the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema/TV. He began studying film, but after befriending a photographer there, he soon realized he wanted more instant gratification, not to mention variation, in his work. He also didn’t like the thought of huge crews, and all that schmoozing. “I’m sort of a loner. I’m an only child. I need solo time.”

Part of Dominic’s Underworld Vampyres collection. Photo courtesy of Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli Photography + Design

And so in his last year he took all the photography classes he could. He left L.A. with a small photo portfolio and hit Seattle. It was 1994 – “post-grunge, pre-Intuit, a great time to move there”. But after seven years as a freelance photographer, the weather got the better of him, and he got itchy feet. He put his stuff in storage, flew to Australia and bought a camper van. It was while traveling around Oz that he met some TV folks, and on his return to the USA  he began shooting and then presenting for Lonely Planet and National Geographic Adventure Channel.

Dominic (at right) with some acquaintances in Scotland. Photo courtesy of Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli Photography + Design

He moved to Tucson two years ago, although his links to the place started way further back. His dad bought a property in Oro Valley in 1988, while Dominic was still in Washington. That same year, acting on a whim and a dare with some best friends, the 16-year-old Dominic Alan Bonuccelli decided to formally change his middle name. It had to be something else starting with an ‘A’ (to avoid having to change his driver’s license) and he liked the idea of having a ‘Z’ in it, just for fun. And so Arizona it was.

His work now spans a wide range of clients, from travel show host Rick Steves to design firms and architects, to Seattle alt-circus company Teatro ZinZanni and Tucson singer Sahara Starr. But if there is a dark side to Dominic, it’s in the work he produces away from the travel and corporate gigs. Having to put smiling bodies in front of the Eiffel Tower for travel clients can get wearing, he says. “When I come back from a travel shoot I just want to shoot something dark and brooding.” A call this year on his Facebook page for people to model in vampire-themed photos sparked more interest than he expected. “Next thing I knew I had shot twenty of them.” And so for his 40th birthday in the Fall he threw a vampire-themed art show at Tucson’s Hotel Congress. Self-described “horror rock band” The Mission Creeps played.

Next on his list is mermaids – he aims to have a collection of ten of them. His other penchant right now is for “evil dukes and duchesses and queens… I always find the evil queens more interesting”.

The characters come first, he says; he dreams up a character – usually an evil one – and takes it from there. His filmmaking background shines through, and he is upfront about his influences – Scorsese and Ridley Scott, rather than Leibowitz and Avedon.

As highly produced as the end results appear to be, Dominic is not one to prepare well ahead of time. “I’m very scattered. There’s an element of adrenalin when you don’t plan everything.” He shoots many hundred photos at a time. “I never want to edit myself when I’m shooting. I can edit things later,” he says.

And although he adores doing what he loves, he makes sure he doesn’t live his life through the lens of a camera. He believes it’s important to put the camera (a Canon 5D Mark III, if you’re interested) down and enjoy a moment. The point was brought home to him on a safari in Kenya, where “so many people were living the entire trip inside a 1×1 viewfinder”. People’s preoccupation with camera phones and Facebook is “a double-edged sword”, he says. If you’re constantly documenting, whether on a phone or a camera, “you’re not in the moment and it defeats the object.”

“There’s nothing but now,” says Dominic. He gained citizenship in Italy; he has relatives living near Pisa. And it’s perhaps no coincidence that when he speaks Italian, it’s always in the present tense. The New Year should see him doing more work for Lonely Planet TV, and you can expect many more mermaids, plus a few naughty dukes and duchesses. But while there will undoubtedly be more travel, he has no plans to desert the desert. “If my only goal is to be famous or flush with cash I would move to L.A. Although that would be smart fiscally, it’s not the only thing.”

Note from the editors: We always like a scoop, and this story is no different. So here, as a special Holiday treat, is a Dominic Bonuccelli photo you won’t see anywhere else: the very young Nic on Santa’s knee.

Photo courtesy of Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

 

Gardening upside down


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How about some gardening that requires no digging, no weeding, and no mess? Welcome to the world of air plants. By Madeleine Boos.

Photo by Art Gray for Airplantman Designs

There are many reasons to use interior plants: air purification, to foster a sense of well-being, and simply for aesthetics. But what about just as downright decoration?

Air plants can be attached to walls, suspended on wire from the ceiling, paired with kitschy trinkets, and used as party favors. Not only does it look cool, but this upside-down gardening is about as low-maintenance as you can get.

Tillandsia on cholla log
Photo by Madeleine Boos

Air plants get their name from appearing to live solely on air. They take water and nutrients through their leaf system and use their roots like anchors to hold onto trees, rocks or other natural surfaces.

Also called Tillandsia, air plants are part of the Bromeliad family – those plants native to the tropical Americas. They come in many species, sizes, leaf colors and flower colors.  Most of them flower annually and are in color from two weeks to a couple of months a year.

Tillandsia thrive in a tropical climate. But according to Dr. Mark Dimmitt of the Center for Sonoran Desert Studies, Tillandsia ehlersiana and hildae are best suited for our arid desert climate.

And the best part? There is no weeding, no digging, and no mess.

Josh Rosen is a landscape architect and creator of Airplantman Designs based in Santa Monica, CA. He has created a series of aesthetically pleasing vessels and frames for air plant display. Both the frames and the vessels encourage air circulation and ease of watering, vital to air plant health.

See section on air plant care at the end of this article.

Photo by Josh Rosen (aka Air Plant Man)

Photo by Art Gray for Airplantman Designs

Having lived in Tucson as a student at the U of A, Rosen understands the desert climate.

“For airplants in Tucson, use species that are adapted to arid climates such as xerographica or tectorum and avoid direct sun and frost.  Arid species will typically have grey leaves that reflect sunlight.” Catch up with Airplantman Josh Rosen on his facebook page.

Architect Darci Hazelbaker of HA|RU remembers discovering air plants in the tropical deep South. “The first time I visited my husband Dale’s parents in southern Florida we were strolling through their woods and the ball moss and southern needleleaf were everywhere, anchored to every branch and limb of the old live oak trees.  I became infatuated with their ability to survive without soil. I would bring a couple back with me to the desert and hang them in our bathroom to soak up the steam from our shower.”

Taxonomy of Air Plants: Baileyi, Stricta Rio, Harrisii, Caput Medusae, and Andreana
Photo courtesy of HA|RU

“Now we have our air plants neatly cataloged in our kitchen near the window so they receive plenty of indirect light. They are excellent plants if you don’t have a lot of horizontal surfaces for pots, if your thumb isn’t so green, or if you just want to be creative in how you display them. The possibilities are endless,” says Darci. (See 3Story’s profile of HA|RU in issue 3.)

When the new Habitat for Humanity headquarters opens in Tucson in the Spring, it will feature a lobby with wall mounted powder coated steel panels holding Tillandsia. Hanging from the ceiling from cables will be suspended tubular steel planters also filled with Tillandsia.

Why air plants? Jason Isenberg, owner of REALM, which is doing the interior and exterior landscaping, says simply: “They’re such cool plants. If you neglect them, they’ll deal with it.” A spritz with water a couple of times a week is sufficient to keep them thriving, he says.

How to use them

 1. Place them in a vessel

Floating displays can be strung from the ceiling or stand gracefully on any surface.

Hanging airplant pods, $32 – $42 each
Mudpuppy on Etsy

 

Hanging glass bubble from West Elm, $9 each
Photo courtesy of West Elm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist Michael McDowell is a clay craftsman in Denver Colorado. His hanging airpalnt pods are available on Etsy.

Limb Garden, Air Plants in Doll Limbs on Etsy

Created by designer Robin Charlotte, this very special air plant garden features a doll arm or leg with an air plant growing inside. These doll part treasures came from the depths of a garage, so they may have some beautiful weathered markings and rust stains. Available on Etsy, $38 each.

Also check out Robin’s party favor air plant sea urchins on Etsy. A set of 25 goes for $145

Airplantman_Designs_Josh_Rosen_Airplantbox_Ceramic_05-e1350938886512

 

 

 

Air plant vessels by Airplantman Designs. For more information, visit www.airplantman.com or e-mail josh@airplantman.com.

 

 

 2. Hang a Vertical Garden within a frame

Airplant Frames, $195 each, (with plants $249)
Photo courtesy of Flora Grubb Gardens

Photo courtesy of Flora Grubb Gardens

Air plant frames provide an an architectural and minimalist way to display Tillandsias. Designed by Air Plant Man, (aka landscape architect Josh Rosen), they are sold through Flora Grubb Gardens.

 

Photo courtesy of AirPlantMan Designs
Photo by Josh Rosen (aka Airplantman)

3. Create  your own wall composition

Thigmotrope Satellite Fleet, set of 3 $40
Photo courtesy of Flora Grubb Gardens

Flora Grubb Gardens has come up with ‘Thigmotrope Satellites’, special fasteners designed to be screwed into the wall and hold Tillandsia air plants. Create your own wall composition.

Photo courtesy of Flora Grubb Gardens

Air Plant Care

Photo courtesy of Flora Grubb Gardens

Although they do not require watering, air plants do need some TLC. They must be soaked overnight once a week to keep them hydrated. At least once a month add a teaspoon of fertilizer to the water, and mist daily.

Provide the brightest light possible short of burning. White-leaved species need more light than green ones. Many of them will also tolerate our wide range of temperatures except for hard freezes.

They’re immortal if something (or someone) doesn’t kill them.

 Where to Buy Them

Air Plants are available at $7 per plant at Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery, 8005 E. Speedway Blvd. Tel:  338-8642

Or buy them online from a number of vendors, including the Air Plant Supply Co.


 

Photo courtesy of AirPlantMan Designs
Photo by Josh Rosen (aka Airplantman)

Fasten your seatbelts


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Who knew so much fun could be had with airplane parts? They’re cropping up as furniture, sculptures – even bathroom fixtures.

Airplane parts as furniture

Parts of a jet engine form a shower in Ron Fridlind’s home. Photo by Gillian Drummond

It’s fitting that, in a city with close connections to flight, airplanes are sneaking into the design world. Airplane parts as furniture, fixtures and sculpture that is.

Mention Tucson and you’ll hear the names Howard Hughes and Bombardier. There’s the Pima Air and Space Museum, Davis Monthan Air Base, not to mention an airplane boneyard currently being celebrated by artist Eric Firestone.

Tucson architects and designers are, quite rightly, celebrating the city’s aviation links, working airplane parts into their own projects, and with stunning results.

Airplane parts as furniture

Ron Fridlind’s unique shower head. Photo by Gillian Drummond

Architect/builder Ron Fridlind is all about salvaging. And when it comes to the remodel of his midtown home, his favorite material by far is metal. Fridland is something of a human magpie, trawling junk yards and finding unique purposes for the pieces.

When he spotted a GE engine of a military jet at a Tucson salvage yard (now closed),  he bought half of it for $200. He then installed it in his guest bathroom to form the ceiling of the shower. The 3ft by 3ft nickel alloy piece – so thick that you have to use a special torch to get through it – juts out of the roof of Ron’s house. He built a special skylight to accommodate it.

Airplane parts as furniture

Airplane steps form part of Ron Fridlind’s Japanese ofuru. Photo by Gillian Drummond

The large shower head is attached by special hangers, and the plumbing fed through it via a torched hole. “This is the part of the engine that burned the kerosene or jet fuel. It’s all hand-made and hand welded. These engines are worth a couple hundred thousand dollars. When I shower under it I think ‘Wow’,” he says.

Ron used some jet engine cowling as the outer part of the shower head. Metal sheets curve around to form a cylindrical shower wall, and saguaro ribs are used as a handle.

He has also used airplane steps outside his Japanese soaking tub, or ofuru. And he is working to use aircraft tail wings to create counters in a 1948 Airstream trailer he is refurbishing.

Airplane parts as furniture

The rest of Ron Fridlind’s guest bathroom.
Photo by Gillian Drummond

Scott Baker, a furniture and interior designer, and a partner in the Tucson firm Baker + Hesseldenz, has used aircraft parts in two pieces of furniture. Just don’t ask him what they are.

“I get the parts from the scrap yards in Tucson and from government liquidation auctions,” says Scott. “I don’t know what the parts were originally for. The shapes just speak to me and then I buy them, and create the furniture piece around the part.”

He favors aircraft parts because they are primarily aluminum, making them lightweight and therefore easy to use. But, like Ron, he also likes their quality. “They are always very well made. I like the precision milled look that they have.”

Airplane parts as furniture

Emma wall shelf, $2400.
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

For his ‘Emma’ wall shelf he used aluminum aircraft parts, mahogany and ebony.

Airplane parts as furniture

Sophia cocktail table, $1200.
Photo courtesy of Baker + Hesseldenz

His ‘Sophia’ cocktail table is crafted of curly maple, glass, and aluminum aircraft parts.

Scott Baker won’t reveal where he gets his parts from – that’s how precious he is about using them. “The yard I go to is pretty patient with me but is generally not open to the public.  It makes it easier for me to find parts on a regular basis if I don’t let everyone else know where they can get them too.”
Airplane parts as furniture

The jet engine cowling as sculpture at Rob Paulus’s office.
Photo by Madeleine Boos

 

Architect Rob Paulus has turned a jet engine cowling into a sculpture, and tourist attraction, in front of his Tucson offices. “People just walk in and take photos of each other next to it,” he says. His daughter plays in it with her friends. And it’s lit up at night, with an LED light that shines directly onto it, for added drama.

Rob picked the piece up at Aircraft Restoration & Marketing, a Tucson aircraft services firm that also sells parts, for $1200.  “To have something that big and in such a perfect shape, to me that’s a great deal. It’s something specific to the southwest, which is a cool gesture to where we live,” he says.

Restoration Hardware has got in on the aerodynamic trend, with furniture pieces “inspired by the gleaming nose cones and fuselages of mid-20th-century aircraft”. They feature polished aluminum panels, exposed steel screws and rounded corners – although, unlike our own local artisans, RH doesn’t use real aircraft parts.

Airplane parts as furniture

Restoration Hardware’s 1950s Spitfire Copenhagen Chair, $1375-$1975 at www.restorationhardware.com

Airplane parts as furniture

Restoration Hardware’s Blackhawk side table, $825-$1700 at www.restorationhardware.com

 

 

 

 

Et Cetera


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This year there’s no excuse. If the thought of heavy carbon footprints and a fragile local economy don’t force you out of Target, then we will. Because the choice locally is huge and, naturally, much more interesting. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order.

1. FORS Shop for modern amenities

Known for their hip, modern interiors, architects Sonya Sotinsky and Miguel Fuentevilla have launched a new retail venture in front of their design studio. Gifts run from the cheeky, like this Mustachifier pacifier ($10), to the chic. Check out the stainless steel and resin  jewelry by Stubborn, $50 and up.

FORS architecture+interiors, 245 E. Congress, #135 . Tel: 795-9888

2. Yikes

Feeling a little rebellious this Holiday season? Then how about foregoing gingerbread men for Ninjabread men? For that and more grown-up fun, pay a visit to Yikes toy store, 2930 E. Broadway Blvd at Broadway Village. Tel: 320 5669. (Read our profile of Yikes owner Patricia Katchur here.)

 

3. Buster & Boo

We’ve loved Buster & Boo’s vintage typewriter jewelry since we stumbled on it at a Tucson Museum of Art craft fair some years ago.

Husband and wife team Sara and Eric Sacks, based in Tucson, make pieces for women and men, all available via etsy. Price: $22 to $69. We ask you: who doesn’t want to lead a happily punctuated life?

B&B are giving a special offer to 3 Story readers: order via its own website and use code FREE SHIPPING at the checkout, and they will automatically deduct the shipping cost.

4. Catherine Harrison

Tucson artist/weaver Catherine Harrison takes plastic bags and works magic with them. Who’d have thought the likes of a plain old Safeway grocery bag could look so stylish? She cuts them into strips and weaves them together, then adds a cotton fabric lining and clasp to make some striking clutches.

As a special gesture to raise awareness of breast cancer, Catherine has developed a line of custom pink clutches, with half of all proceeds going towards the Southern Arizona Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can find them for $32 each on etsy or at the Komen Southern Arizona shop, 4574 E. Broadway, open Monday to Thursday, 9am-5pm. Tel: 319 0155.

 

5. Bon

Just because it’s childsplay doesn’t mean it can’t be tasteful. Go on – turn your kids into sophisticates with these gifts from Bon, the boutique owned by mother-and-daughter team Bonnie and Crystal Flynt. From left to right: Wood bark pencils, $9.50; 3 25-piece puzzles of the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and the Arc de Triomphe by Vilac, $34; Bronnley triple-milled handmade soap in the shape of a duck, $13.95. Bon is at 3022 East Broadway Boulevard. Tel: 795-2272.

 

6. Augustus Paris Antiques

Amidst the French antiques at Augustus Paris Antiques are vintage accessories to die for, belts, clutches and jewelry for $40 and up. We couldn’t resist the handmade holiday snowballs bearing the names of French beauties such as Anaïs Nin and Catherine Deneuve. Priced at $40, each snowball contains a scented soap, candle, and lip balm wrapped in a French cloth and sealed with a vintage brooch. Throw one at someone you love! Augustus Paris is at 2522 E Fort Lowell Rd. Tel: 777-5454.

 

7. Atelier de La Fleur

As well as floral arrangements, orchids and native plant selections, Atelier de La Fleur, the latest addition to the Historic Train Depot downtown, sells unusual gardening tools, and gloves that turn a green thumb into a fashion statement. Find them at 410 E. Toole Avenue. Tel: 548-1338.

 

8. UNICEF Store

Shop an exquisite and diverse selection of textiles, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, sculpture and Christmas ornaments from all over the world at the UNICEF Store (United Nations Children’s Fund). Chunky jewelry, silk scarves and stylish recycled totes are fit for the likes of Angelina Jolie and Audrey Hepburn, but priced for the masses.  Proceeds benefit UNICEF and the United Nations Association of Southern Arizona education program. 6242 E. Speedway Blvd. Tucson (520) 327-0314

 9. Phil Smith

For a slice of Americana with a clean-but-funky edge to it, try the mixed media photo collages of Tucson artist Phil Smith. Phil takes photos of everyday objects and buildings, then mounts some of them on foam board for a 3-D effect. He adds wood, wire, paper, stamps, paint, pencil and beads for the final presentation, framed under glass in antique boxes or on canvas. Prices range from $25 up to $500. Buy them direct from Phil by emailing photoarts@comcast.net

10. Museum Shops

Museums bring you the art and the education. Their gift stores let you take it home with you. That’s why, if you’re really stuck for gift ideas, we urge you to hit the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 North Main Avenue, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson at 265 South Church Avenue  Tucson. While you’re at it, check out what has to be world’s most elaborate nativity scene, El Nacimiento, at the TMA. Worth a look at MOCA is an exhibit by Peter Young, who has shown around the world but now resides in Bisbee, AZ.

 

Pleased to Meet You


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Roberta Franzheim, owner of Augustus Paris Antiques, on the theatre of antique selling and why top hats rock.

Photo courtesy of Roberta Franzheim

Are you an early bird or a night owl? “The Tucson sky is magnificent in the early morning. I wish I could see more of it. I struggle to get my son Gus, who is 9, to school every morning. When I was growing up the school bus stopped and honked for me and I would jump out of bed, grab my clothes and shoes, and the bus would circle back around after a few blocks and pick me up. Having a shop has allowed me to open at a civilized 10:30 a.m., so I have found my niche.”

Roberta Franzheim and her son Gus
Photo courtesy of Roberta Franzheim

Favorite accessory? “A top hat. I try to find and buy one hundred year old silk or beaver top hats in their original boxes in Paris. I sell them in my shop. Whenever there is a dressy, special occasion I immediately think of what I can wear with a top hat. A fresh gardenia in the band is wonderful, especially in the middle of winter. It’s too bad men no longer wear top hats, but I like to and so does my son. They add a little je ne c’est pas quoi.”

Favorite faux pas? “Asking, ‘What do you do?’ Americans like to know pretty quickly what people do, so they can size them up and put them in an understandable socioeconomic category. The French consider this question gauche and rude. They wait for a person to reveal themselves. When people come into my shop and talk to me, I’m often tempted to ask, ‘And what do you do?’ but try and restrain myself.”

Dream customer? “Someone who comes in and suddenly appreciates what I’m trying to achieve. What I do has a theatrical element. I create a scene in which to live. I bring pieces over from Paris that are far from home. They sit and wait. When people come in and realize I have gone to a lot of trouble to bring interesting pieces to the middle of the Arizona desert, I am rewarded. When they take a piece home and it means something to them, that’s the best.”

Inside Augustus Paris
Photo by Roberta Franzheim

If I weren’t a shop/boutique owner I would…“Be a writer. I would like to do the same thing with words that I do with the unique pieces I buy and sell – to express myself and create a narrative on paper. The shop is a novel, or a collection of short stories. Both come from the same place in me. I’m moving antiques and art around to create scenes and a sense of place. I work closely with people every day, which is fulfilling. Being a writer is much lonelier. It takes a certain courage.”

If I could change one thing I would…“Have done this sooner. Having a business I’m passionate about is not a job, but a way of life. It is fun. The challenges are brain twisters, and back twisters. Each day I get better at what I am doing. I’m fine tuning my eye and educating myself about history, and people. When I walk into the shop, turn on the lights and some cool music, I am home. I’m ready for the world to walk through my door.”

Visit Augustus Paris at  2522 E. Fort Lowell Rd, Tucson. Tel: 520-777-5454. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. As well as selling antiques, it features vintage accessories and jewelry.