Import Asia and the World into Your Living Room

August 6, 2004

INDONESIA, China, and India maybe on the other side of the world, butmany people in Costa Rica are bringingthe east into their homes with Asianimport furniture.“For three years its popularity hasbeen increasing,” said Jose PabloAlvarado, a salesman at Gado Gado inEscazú, southwest of San José.The chicken-or-the-egg nature oftrends makes it unclear whether the availabilityof Asian furniture has led to itspopularity or if demand has forced storesto increase stock, but either way, it’s clearthat buyers are snapping up exotic furnishings.“People are looking for things fromother parts of the world,” Alvarado said.“I think that it’s about design, becausethere’s good quality furniture in all countries.”ALEJANDRA Golcher, general managerof the high-end Artemarmol inEscazú, attributed the trend to the increasingavailability of high-quality furniture atgood prices.“You have a lot of choice, and theprices are really good. The quality is verygood for the price,” Golcher said.“The import furniture is more availablebecause it’s more popular,” saidMonique Harris of Monnry Lighting andHome Accents in Guachipelin, southwestof San José. “It’s a trend, like if you seeeveryone wearing black pants, thenthey’re in all the stores. When somethingtakes off everyone wants it.”Golcher noted the aesthetically pleasingcontrast of Asian style in Costa Rica’stropical setting, a contrast Harris commentedon as well.“It’s what’s in style right now; it fitsthe décor of the houses down here. It’s agood fit for homes being built in CostaRica right now,” Harris said.ASIAN furniture has a style that isrustic but not simple, according toAlvarado. “It’s elaborate, with a lot ofdetails.”The styles vary widely depending onthe country of origin, and different storesreported different trends.“Oriental style is very finished, withsimple, clean lines,” Golcher said. “TheBritish Colonial style is different, moreintricate. The Indian style is very decorated,with a lot of rivets.”She added that Indian furniture isinspired by Indian architecture, and istherefore quite ornate.The British colonial style, a meldingof Eastern and Western design created inBritain’s Asian colonies, “is very carved,with a certain classic style,” according toGolcher.Golcher said that Artemarmol’s mostpopular furniture comes from Indonesia.Javanese furniture is also increasing inpopularity, because it is “contemporary ormodern, furniture that has simple straightlines.”“EACH country has its own distinctstyle, but they are all lovely,” Golchersaid.Harris identifies furniture fromIndonesia, the Philippines and China asthe most in demand.“They use a lot of natural fibers, teakwood, rattan, coconut fiber,” she said.“The style is more decorative, more a traditionallook than modern, though youcan get away with some pieces in contemporarydécor because of the straightlines.”Prices vary widely and depend on thematerials used and the quality of workmanship.“The price depends on the materials,”Golcher said. “Some teak comes unfinishedand is finished here, and so it is verycheap.”But she added that teak is one of themost expensive woods. Handcrafted teakfurniture is “very beautiful, much morefine, and more expensive” than most furnitureon the market.HARRIS placed Monnry’s prices inbetween cheap manufactured furnitureand the very high end of the market. Mostof Monnry’s stock, Harris said, is handmade.“But they are not antiques which arereally expensive; handmade antiques arevery expensive.”Clientele, the stores reported, is a mixof resident foreigners and natives.“We have a lot of foreigners and CostaRicans,” said Harris. “It’s 50-50. They’reboth buying it.”Artemarmol is open Monday-Fridayfrom 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Saturday 10a.m.-5 p.m. Call 228-0443 for moreinfo.Call Monnry Lighting and HomeAccents at 288-2669. The store is openMonday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.Gado Gado, named after a city inIndonesia, is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m.Monday-Saturday. The phone number is228-2309.

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