“Think the Jetsons.” That’s how Stan Chaman characterizes the furniture he and his wife, Nikki, have been selling at PreviewMod since 2004.
Their Fort Lauderdale store specializes in furniture and objets d’ art from the 1930s to the 1990s, with a particular focus on mid-century moderne. The couple also offer classic clothing and jewelry.
But it’s the furniture that is front and center.
“It is the beauty, the simplicity of the furniture, the lack of clutter, the less is more, the lines and shapes, the use of negative space, the play of light and shade created by the lines and the quality of the materials and workmanship that attracts us,” Nikki says.
The couple ferret out the provenance of each item they sell. “That makes us different from a lot of other dealers,” Stan says.
For example, the piece in their shop of which they are most proud is a 1969 white cast-fiberglass desk. It was designed by visual artist Vittorio Introini and produced by Saporiti of Italy. Its white chair has black leather cushions. The duo is priced at $14,000.
There’s also a white and taupe Artema Isola or “floating island” sofa by Paolo Piva, one of Italy’s leading architects and designers. The striped and white back pillows down the middle of the oval seat let you sit from either side ($2,500).
While Stan searches for special merchandise at auctions, by word of mouth and from dealers throughout Europe, Nikki heads to a workroom in the rear of the store. Here she refinishes wood, patches veneer, lacquers and reupholsters furniture.
Join her and she’ll proudly point out her shiny black 1959 Necchi sewing machine that she likens to a Rolls Royce. It was a gift from a customer.
“I love to be back here tinkering and dabbling and making everything beautiful again,” she adds. That means most items in the shop are in excellent condition.
She recently refinished a 1937 bedroom suite of Brazilian rosewood with a mahogany inlay ($9,500). It was designed by Gilbert Rohde, a pioneer of American modern design, and produced by Herman Miller.
She chose a lime green wool by Maharam to reupholster the curves of a Womb Chair by Finnish designer Eero Saarinen ($2,500).Stan and Nikki originally got into this business in 1986, when they lived in London. They had visited family in Vancouver and while shopping for on the city’s antiques row, they fell in love with a purple, red, green and yellow 1959 Wurlitzer 1100.
On a whim, they bought the jukebox and then had to figure out how to get it up to their fifth floor walk-up in London.
“We had no idea what we’d do with it,” Nikki says. But on the flight home they realized they could also import vintage Coke machines and gas pumps, which they sold along with jukeboxes from a store in Soho.
Now they’ve settled in the North Beach Arts District of Fort Lauderdale. “The area reminds us of Europe,” says Nikki. That’s because they can walk between home and their shop.
Here they have become a mainstay of the monthly art walk sponsored by the shops and galleries in the area. That’s when Stan sets up his steel drum on the sidewalk to play Caribbean jazz.
He marks these occasions by hanging an iconic light overhead. It looks something like a glowing, oversized red bowling ball with blinking green and white tubular lights sticking out of it.
Yes, it could be Sputnik. But for Stan, this one-of-a-kind Jetson-era orb is a symbol of what PreviewMod is all about. And, he says he’ll never sell it.