SELLING SEASHELLS NOT BY THE
When Nicole Giessman was decorating her new master bathroom, she ordered two oval mirrors lined with mud starfish and scallop, abalone and pearlized turbo shells. "Itís probably the first time Iíve used a seashell motif," she said. "A lot of the things Iíve seen out there are a little overdone, but I liked the simplicity of this one."
Seashells, corals and starfish used to be the kind of things primarily sold in seaside tourist shops, but lately theyíve been showing up more in mainstream design, incorporated into furniture or as stand-alone art pieces costing as much as $1,000. Ms. Giessman bought her $99 mirror from Harvest of Barnstable, a Cape Cod, Mass., retailer and wholesaler that makes shell based decorative objects. After one of its designs appeared in a shopping magazine, the company received 40 orders in two weeks.
coastal beach theme has really taken off," said David Myers, owner of
Sheashellworld.com, an online retailer. His
yearly sales of decorative seashells have increased at a steady 20% for
the past few years, he said. One thing the company has strived to stay
away from, said Mr. Myers, is the "Ď60s and Ď70s campy feel of
little seashells." Instead, the store specializes in a selection of
large shells such as nautiluses and conches meant to be used as
stand-alone display pieces.
From Renaissance to Rococo
Updating this old glamour,
Christopher Gowís line of home accessories adds silver touches to seashells,
oysters and corals. His designs sell at retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman and
Neiman Marcus, as well as his own New York boutique, Ruzzetti & Gow. A
mother-of-pearl nautilus shell partially dipped in silver and mounted on coral
costs $900. Since 2000, sales have more than doubled. "People with taste
have realized that something can be either very tacky or very chic," Mr.
Gow said. "Itís the way you put them together."
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