Published on April 5th, 2013 | by Donna Martin0
Island Collection – An 8,600 Mile Odyssey
Every once in a while I stroll along Flagler Avenue for a quick respite from my studio work. Several times, I’ve passed by a shop called Island Collection. I’ve paused and thought, “Island Collection – sounds like another beachwear establishment.” And since I’ve thoroughly exhausted that shopping experience I continue my jaunt.
But serendipity recently brought me past the threshold, face to face with Phil and Regina Carpenter, creators and owners of their ‘Island Collection.’ I was not prepared for what lay before my eyes.
First of all, it is not a casual beachwear store, as I so unwittingly determined. It is a treasure chest of exotic furniture and a myriad of decorative accessories from the faraway island of Bali. I was surrounded by hand carved and hand tooled works of art by the Balinese artists who are masters at their craft. Some art works are antiques, or just castoff dusty pieces laying around and, with a keen eye for beauty, Phil culls them from a corner or some other remote area. They find their way here and take on an exquisite look.
Many of the furniture pieces are designed by Phil who holds a master’s degree in interior design and is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers. The furniture is then executed by the craftsmen. Most of the furniture is teak wood as are the accessories. And many pieces are only slightly altered from their natural state. A portion of an undulating tree trunk becomes a table base.
By the way, as the crow flies, from Los Angeles to Indonesia, is 8623 miles or 13874.41 kilometers, whichever you prefer. Since the one-of-a-kind objects of art are obviously not chosen through a catalog, how do they pull this off? Ask Phil and Regina, and they will give “shopping trip” a whole new meaning.
For me, each room is an aesthetic feast for the eyes. There’s so much to see in every direction, it would be chaotic if it wasn’t for Phil’s acute ability to arrange groupings in harmony. I found myself studying each one and soulfully appreciating such unity.
There isn’t one item in Island Collection that’s not a perfect work of art. It would be a task to even choose a favorite, but I have a group of favorites. They are the stylized renditions of Bali’s ancient mythical bird that appears in so many of the carved pieces. You must see them. Another single piece I love is a large intricately carved wooden grillwork that might be used for a wedding portrait backdrop, as Phil explained, or maybe act as a screen. Since it’s currently not in my budget, I visit it regularly. I don’t know what I’ll do when I turn the corner and suddenly it isn’t there. The piece is a perfect creation and has a spiritual effect on me. I also covet the enormous crocodile that graces a central part of one room. When you look closely you will see it’s composed of cast off metal thingamajigs. I picture it encroaching on my pool – a real conversation piece.
With Phil as a guide, (I refer to him as a museum curator because everything in the store reflects the history of the people) he exuberantly led me through each room with an accompanied colorful description of how he discovered a particular piece, a word about the artist, and the folklore behind some of the artwork. “I get so attached to certain pieces, I’m almost sad to see them go,” he laments.
Every spot in this small shopping cove is brimming with one stunningly beautiful piece of furniture and accessory after another. Phil, with his interior design background and Regina, who is an accomplished photographer and jewelry designer, have made this a symbiotic venture. The Carpenters have latched onto a genius idea – that is Bali, where they have visited over thirty times. They offer this opportunity to clients who would also want to take shopping to another dimension. Be sure to bring your walking shoes.
Oh, and I was almost out the door when I spotted this beautiful multi-stranded necklace with hundreds of tiny turquoise beads taking on a macramé flavor, gracing one of the silk wraps. It beckoned to me and I bought it. Soon I hope the colorful carved screen or the crocodile will by mine.