Thursday, December 4, 2014

High Design in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL ~ I try to visit several art museums and galleries every year. It's a chance to slow down, be still and reboot, creatively. I always wrap up these excursions with a visit to their accompanying gift shop. To be honest, it's often the highlight of my trip. One of my favorite shops is here, on the corner of Franklin and Columbia streets in the heart of Chapel Hill (UNC)—the Ackland Museum Store, an offshoot of (obviously) the Ackland Art Museum. 

The store is bright and airy. The walls, ceiling and shelving are all white—a blank canvas if you will—allowing the products to shine. Natural light streams in from two walls of windows. The store showcases the talent of local, national and international artisans and crafters.
A great range of products are sold here: wooden bowls and gift wrap to checkerboards and winter hats; plates, paper, prints and pottery; cups and cards; stationery and stoneware. And if that's still not enough, check out their everyday objects like tape dispensers and water bottles, which are all taken to a new (higher) level of design. Just because something is functional, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful! 

Some of the products here are whimsical. There are stuffed animals throughout the store, each with their own personality. Picture books, for both kids and adults, line cubby shelves; intricate painted deer heads (made from cardboard) emerge from walls; and delicate paper lanterns and slow moving mobiles hang from above. 
The curators of the store do a wonderful job seeking out unusual products made with impeccable craftsmanship. In a day and age where it seems everything is mass-produced, it is nice to be reminded of the talented artisans that live among us. The prices are reasonable as well. Everything in here gets high marks from me. I love this place! Go check it out.

For more information on the Ackland Museum Store, click here.