Betsy Nathan: Collecting Feng Xue
Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Betsy Nathan from Chicago about her business, Pagoda Red. Betsy had been collecting 18th and 19th-century Chinese furniture and putting them in a gallery until recently, where she is now beginning to branch out into African and European art. She and Nick talk about her inspirations and what fuels her interest in art and furniture.
China in the 1990s
Betsy is the youngest in a family of four siblings with a considerable age gap between her and them. Her older siblings traveled around the world as she was growing up and brought back exciting stories about where they had been, which inspired her to do the same when she grew up. Betsy’s mother was also a contemporary art dealer who exposed her to the world of art throughout her upbringing. In her adulthood, Betsy worked for a cross-cultural consulting firm in the 1990s that worked with many Chinese clients. This eventually prompted her to live in China for two years to study Mandarin. While studying abroad, she gained a deep interest in Chinese furniture from the 18th and 19th century because of the symbolic meaning tied in with the designs.
The Beginning of Pagoda Red
When she came back to the United States, she had collected a few furniture pieces that a friend of hers thought would be great to exhibit in a gallery. She agreed with the idea and thus the idea for Pagoda Red was seeded. However, this friend “chickened- out” (as Betsy put it) last minute, but rather than give up, Betsy decided to start the business on her own. When Pagoda Red first began, there was a bit of superstition surrounding Feng Xue, but since then the superstition has ebbed, allowing Betsy’s business to prosper.
Pagoda Red Today
Today, Betsy seeks furniture that are unusual examples of traditional or common pieces. She focuses mainly on Chinese furniture that was created for the middle market in the 18th and 19th century as well.Pagoda Red recently loaned a few of its pieces to the Chicago botanic gardens for their 10,000 orchid display. Pagoda Red also offers a trade program for designers intended to extend themselves the way they do in a gallery, online.
- Upcoming Events
BD West – April 4 – 5
High Point Market – April 14 – 18
HD Expo – May 2 – 4
ICFF – May 20 – 23
NeoCon – June 11 – 13
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