THE HUNT FOR TREASURES

BY TATYANA MURPHY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Today’s world of fast speed, immediate gratification and on-demand shopping is seriously at odds with the bygone era of elegance and opulence. In this world of gadgets and information, we continue to long for the sense of romantic nostalgia and tasteful richness that comes from lavish objets d’art and distinctive accessories of the past. Inside Park + Eighth, a unique designer boutique in Fort Worth, you will find this exact atmosphere of lavish sophistication created by layers upon layers of unique treasures and fabulous finds.

Run by design expert Christina Phillips, Park + Eighth encapsulates an eclectic style that is fashioned by the mix of vintages, colors and textures of the art and furnishings. Scattered throughout the showroom are statement pieces with charming histories that long for a new place to call home. At the turn of every corner you see recaptured beauty of objects from the past. The inventory is like new … but not, which is exactly the point.

The aesthetic at Park + Eighth is upscale vintage. Most items are fully restored with lacquer, fabrics and polish. A variety of styles are mixed in a unique way; popular mid-century modern pieces are neighbors to other vintage French, Italian and American furniture and décor. A walk through the store is a discovery, a treat for the senses and a source for ideas.

Phillips boasts an illustrious career in interior design. She contemplated opening a store for a few years before an ideal place became available. The time was right and the inventory was … extensive, so Park + Eighth was born. Phillips loves the combination of Hollywood Regency style and mid-century modern mixed with modern art. These eras impacted her design aesthetic the most, but overall the store is very eclectic and prides itself on not following any specific rules. “I love showing people how they can mix the styles and have fun breaking the designer ‘rules,’” says Phillips. “If you like it, buy it. We encourage our customers to follow their instincts.”

The most impactful aspect of the store presentation is the juxtaposition of modern art and vintage furniture. It adds fun and whimsy to the space, and makes it less strict and rigid. “I knew art would complete the look of our vignettes but had no idea how much art we would sell,” muses the designer, pointing out that supporting local artisans and showcasing their talents adds a special dimension to the business.

Phillips believes that vintage furnishings and modern art can be incorporated into most interiors in a way that freshens the space without tossing out previous purchases. “We keep the baby and the bathwater— and add bubbles,” she says, laughing.

Unlike art galleries, Park + Eighth’s selection of art and artists happens organically: some come to the store, others are recommended or are hand selected by Phillips. The artists represented ebb and flow, which keeps the showroom interesting. Customers never know what they may find from one visit to the next.

“Being a designer-run store, we are able to help our customers select things that are right for their personalities and spaces, and give them confidence that they made the right purchase,” says Phillips.

The most appealing quality about Phillips is her passion. She laughingly admits to her addiction to buying furniture and going on treasure hunts of her own. Anything unique and unusual sets her heart racing; she doesn’t like “run of the mill.”

Asked to describe her work, Phillips says, “I am a rule follower, but I like to bend them a little, especially when it comes to design.” She also quotes famous interior designer Dorothy Draper, who said: “I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.”

This refreshingly fun attitude best reflects the funky style of Park + Eighth. Explore the treasure trove, think out of the box and imagine the possibilities.

Tatyana Murphy is a Dallas-based creative professional, freelance writer and editor, who specializes in fashion, art and design.