Big Pagoda is that rare thing, a furniture design house and gallery with a completely unique take on moderism.
Big Pagoda's web site bills the Sutter Street showroom and retail space as a place for "modern furnishings, Asian antiques, and art." In our opinion this undersells the singularity of their furniture line, which riffs modern on a traditional Asian vernacular by simplifying and streamlining its classic forms and adornments. The line includes chairs, stools, tables and media centers, but is heaviest on chests of various kinds (dressers, consoles, etc.).
These are also the strongest pieces: modern versions of the Japanese or Korean tansu, made graphically bold with simplified versions of the distinctive, ornate metal plate hardware you see on the originals. (The store also sells a small selection of original antique pieces.)
Big Pagoda's chests are not cheap, but they're built to last. They are constructed in Shanxi Province, China using walnut and elm farmed from sustainable forests, by craftspeople who eschew the use of nails and staples in favor of traditional Chinese mortise and tenon joinery.
The store also has a wide selection of complementary housewares: lighting by James Dieter, artisan ceramics, original art, pillows, glassware and other kinds of tableware.
Dwell Design Source says: "A gallery in every sense, Big Pagoda sponsors showings of some of the most intriguing local and international painters, sculptors, and other visual artists. Big Pagoda is a marketplace for the design-conscious." Also available online. Edited from a post that originally appeared 4.20.06