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 was created by internationally recognized architect/developer
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
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
"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
"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.