The Art of Living Well at The Barlow
There is shopping, and then there is shopping for the art of living well at The Barlow in Sebastopol. Strolling through stores designed to connect artists with the community definitely falls into the latter category. And there are few better places for that experience than at The Barlow, with small shops that specialize in bridging the gap between art and everyday living, form and function. Here are just a few:
The Passdoor features two distinct approaches to the this connection, all in a setting that shows a deep reverence for the artist’s work by presenting it against spare white walls, with lots of natural light and clean display spaces. You’ll find a stunning collection of pieces by northern Europe’s iconic designers - those artists who became leaders of modern design from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. It’s a joy just to wander among the sophisticated, simple and magnificently elegant designs showcased here… some from workshops that have been in operation since the mid 1600’s. Tomorrow’s innovative young artists get their share of the spotlight here too – you’ll also find everything from wall art to wind sculpture and light fixtures to furniture, by our own local craftsmen and artists.
Littlefour is a shop and design studio combination that works to connect those who purchase goods with those who make them. In fact, owner and designer Danielle Rodrigues will no doubt be right there, in the back of the shopping space, working at her sewing machine or designing table, creating the unique women’s and kid’s pieces that are hanging on the racks. And she is just one of the many independent local artists who add their work to the array of housewares, clothing and gifts displayed – each of whom make it a point to produce one-of-a-kind, beautiful pieces that are ethically and environmentally sound.
Another craftsman working and selling at the Barlow is Emma Mann, a remarkable woman who has somehow transformed her life experience as a Merchant Mariner who served during Desert Storm, a natural product developer and a single mom into a passion for richly nurturing, artisan soaps and skin care products made from the purest of local ingredients. Experiencing her Soap Cauldron collection is nothing short of a stroll through sensory bliss. The unique alchemy of her products depends on using what is the best of our locale, including such varied ingredients such as local olive oils, fresh Santa Rosa plums, Mission figs and Gravenstein apples, as well as fragrant coffee from the gourmet roaster next door and herbs used in the gin from a local distillery. Don't forget to check out the product line especially designed for dogs: the Soapy Tails soaps, each designed for specific breeds and coat types. You'll find her products at local retailers and Circle of Hands, a children's store at The Barlow, specializing in beautifully handcrafted kid's toys and apparel.
These are just a few of the many more shops that feature the artistry of the internationally famous to the locally cherished artisans. This is sort of an anti-department store experience. The curators and creators of each shop know their product intimately and are delighted to stop whatever they are doing to tell you the history and stories connected with each piece.
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