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Asian-Chicago Fusion: The Golden Triangle Takes a Local Turn

jw

New City Design - May 21, 2013

By Marla Seidell

Within the 23,000 square-foot space of The Golden Triangle, a stylish Asian and European antiques store in River North, a mid-century art deco cabinet made with high gloss wood from Budapest catches my eye. It sells for $9,500. Directly across from the shiny cabinet is a pair of gleaming white armchairs with round backs. The art deco pair is 1930s, from Transylvania. These art deco pieces appear perfectly preserved, and there's a reason why, says co-owner Douglas Van Tress. "The antiques were hidden for years behind the Iron Curtain," he explains. Most of the store's art deco comes from Central Europe—a virtual gold mine for antique lovers like Van Tress.

The Golden Triangle—which Van Tress started with his partner in 1989 as a 500-square-foot store on Chicago Avenue—refers to the northern part of Thailand, where Burma, Thailand and Laos come together in a triangle. "It's our Asian roots coming out," he explains. And those Asian roots are unmistakable in the Golden Triangle's present address: where Chinese roof tiles and courtyard tiles are shipped from China in twenty-foot containers to recreate an authentic look and feel. "From walls to floor it's all imported," notes manager Matt Nguyen. "It's fair to say we have a high standard that makes a different environment and creates an authentic experience—that's why customers keep coming back," Nguyen adds. Clients include high-end designers and celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Leann Rimes.

With the event "Made in Chicago," The Golden Triangle focuses on good design and workmanship, done locally, with a major group show that opened on May 16. "It's kind of full circle," explains Van Tress.

Included in the show are four Chicago-based artists: Wener, who showcases an expanded collection of metal and hardwood furniture made exclusively for The Golden Triangle; jewelry designer Margaret J. Harris, with a collection of hand-crafted jewelry that draws upon European and Asian elements; photographer Laurel Feldman, whose bold photos of flowers are reproduced on a large scale using state-of-the-art materials such as Fuji archival crystal, metallic paper, and acrylic; and abstract painter Pamela Staker.

"I am a person in love with antiques, so we'll still find things around the world," says Van Tress. "But in terms of things for now, such as dining tables and chairs, we can use our antique knowledge and redirect some of the energy to locals making it today," he adds. "It sounds really weird—what is the Golden Triangle doing with all this new stuff?" he points out. "But we're good people to be directing new pieces," he adds.

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The GoldenTriangle

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