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The Mystique of ADAC

For years, fashion-conscious shoppers have been drawn to the upscale retail shops of Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, well known throughout the Southeast as well as to locals. Less known is that another of the nation's premier "shopping centers" is located in the heart of Buckhead, at 351 Peachtree Hills Avenue.

Situated midway between Peachtree Road and Piedmont Road -- and close by the Lindbergh MARTA station -- the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center is a five-story treasure house of showrooms and galleries for "to the trade" advocates of fashionable homes and offices.
ADAC entry

ADAC was created by internationally recognized architect/developer John Portman Jr., FAIA.

"To the trade" translates to "wholesale," and admission to this enclave of uniquely attractive furniture, fabrics, accessories and artwork is limited to professional interior designers and their "guest" clientele.

Five days of each week ADAC is brimming with decorators and customers from all over the Southeast, many of whom fly into Atlanta and take MARTA from the airport. Locating ADAC in proximity to the (then unbuilt) Lindbergh MARTA station is another tribute to the vision of Mr. Portman, whose major contributions have been in downtown Atlanta (with one other notable exception: design of the Varsity Jr. fast food restaurant on Lindbergh).

ADAC visitors will discover many familiar brand- name companies, such as Baker Furniture, Schumacher Fabrics and furniture and fabrics from Brunschwig & Fils, as well as local celebrity names, including showroom owner/interior designer Dorothy H. Travis (known affectionately to her peers as Dorothy Draper Travis), Jerry Pair (whose companion company distributes the exotic Jim Thompson Silks nationwide) and Leslie Holland (whose heritage traces back to the venerable Atlanta design institution the W.E. Browne Company. W.E. Browne was his grandfather.). 

At one time, 25 years ago, ADAC was almost impossible to find (even veteran cab drivers often drove past) when it was unseen in its little "design valley" on Peachtree Hills. After two major expansions, it spilled over into space next door, known as ADAC West. There, esteemed interior designer Marie Warren displays the handsome artwork of Robert Mendoze, the charismatic Susan Smith markets wares from all over the world at International Art Properties, Alabama's Joe Blunt headquarters his national Pierce Martin company, and the energetic Selma Wang presides over Renaissance Tile & Bath.

ADAC is managed by the capable Mysty McLelland, currently at work planning a gala "Design Impact 2000" event for May 3-5 (see the Buckhead calendar for this and more events). Additional information can be obtained by calling (404) 231-1720.

Here are some design terms and names you may encounter at ADAC:

"To the trade": Often "To the trade only." Meaning that the showroom permits only professional interior designers or decorators to make purchases. Some establishments allow the public to browse, but no prices are quoted and no photographs or samples are offered.

"Trade pricing" or "trade courtesies": Frequently seen in the advertisements of retail shops, indicating that a discount is offered to accredited professionals (this is their profit for resale to clients).

"Interior decorator" / "interior designer": Interchangeable terms. In earlier times, a "decorator" actually performed the crafts of applying decorative motifs to walls and furnishings. The late Edith Mansfield Hills considered herself to be an "interior decorator," although she commissioned artisans for most tasks. A historical note: When the neighbors complained that her decorating activities, conducted from a home studio at Lindbergh and Plaster Road "threatened" the sanctity of the residential area, Ms. Hills accepted a gracious offer from John Portman and relocated her business to a space at his nascent ADAC project not far away, becoming a pioneer tenant at the decorative center.

"C.O.M.": The term used when a designer elects to provide the "customer's own material" to upholster an item of furniture, instead of applying a fabric offered by the manufacturer.

"French polished": Term used to identify the painstaking process of multiple hand operations to achieve the lustrous finish on fine antique and reproduction furniture. A master of this application is Buckhead's William Word. He has just opened an expanded area of his Miami Circle showroom gallery. "Billly" Word is considering our recommendation that he identify his space as ww.II (read that "ww dot two) as he purveys worldwide acquisitions of museum-quality furnishings from 709 Miami Circle in that design district.

"Joseph Konrad": A familiar name to Buckhead home furnishings shoppers seeking fine home furnishings and accessories. The showroom, located at 693 Miami Circle and now owned and operated by two young knowledgeable merchants, Channing Mercer and Lloyd Chapman, was founded by former Neiman Marcus veteran Joseph Wosinski, who is now introducing the Windsor Antiques Collection in the ADAC showroom of Ernest Gaspard & Associates.

"Sherle Wagner": Considered to be the Rolls Royce collection of finest quality bath fixtures, these elegant creations are now offered at an ADAC showroom owner by another familiar Buckhead resident, Ruth Dobbs Bryant, of the fabled Dobbs insurance family. Located on the fifth floor of ADAC, in space 501-A, this is a "must see" destination for any homeowner engaged in renovation or construction of a new residence.


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