Storefront: Post 27
Monday, January 3rd, 2011
Some creative types see design as a solitary adventure. NotAngela Finney-Hoffman. As the brains behind eclectic furniture store Post 27, Finney-Hoffman stresses that owning a shop is as much about collaboration as it is about hawking unique home decor. “Ninety percent of [what’s inside] my store is made locally, whether it’s old or new,” says Finney-Hoffman. “And everything I source is within 90 miles of the city limits.”
In the spacious flea market-meets-gallery space housed inside a former lampshade factory on the West side of Chicago, Finney-Hoffman and her co-owner/husband Barkley curate an array of home finds scoured from local auctions, estate sales and flea markets, often refurbishing the pieces and giving them a modern update.
The life of a thrifter seems a natural fit for Finney-Hoffman who began flea marketing with her mom as a toddler. While in elementary school, Finney-Hoffman says she began saving her allowance to stock up on her market finds. “By the time I went to college, I had my entire apartment furnished,” she says. She went on to hone her abilities as a designer and stylist while working for interior design legend Holly Hunt, as well as through her own personal experimentation with pottery, jewelry, textiles and metals. Now, Finney-Hoffman’s flea market-finding skills are so finely tuned that her friends joke she can find the one gem in an enormous pile of junk. “It’s not easy, but the hunt is the fun part,” she says.
I love that I know exactly who makes everything, and exactly where everything comes from.
While Finney-Hoffman’s keen eye is essential to the success of Post 27, she will be the first to admit that, from top to bottom, her store relies heavily on the other creative types in her neighborhood. “My refinisher is down the street. My upholsterer is down the street,” says Finney-Hoffman of her teamwork approach. In addition to locally refurbished antique goods (including a headboard crafted from the old bleachers of Chicago’s St. Ignatius High School), her vintage-meets-modern stock includes nesting tables from Metal + Works, ceramics from Up in the Air Somewhere, industrial felt pillows from designer Noel Ashby and visual art from Cody Hudson—all artisans based in and around the Windy City. Even her window displays are a team effort; Finney-Hoffman recently worked with an artist friend to cover an installation of vintage lampshades with layers of live moss. “I love that I know exactly who makes everything, and exactly where everything comes from.”
But Finney-Hoffman is not just a shopkeeper with impeccable taste—she is also a furniture designer. She works closely with custom cabinet experts Shaun Owens-Agase and Tyler Peterson of Stone Blitzer to create Lapel, a line of fine furniture inspired by industrial designer George Nelson’s office series from the 1960s. “We want to do design for things that are needed, and owning a furniture store, I know what people are looking for,” she says. That insider perspective helped the team create its first piece: a walnut credenza with multi-hued doors that functions as a media console. The design is clean, simple and perfect for a variety of homes and styles.
Her collaborative spirit extends beyond Post 27 and Lapel, with her latest efforts focused on bringing good design to the community at large. This year, she’s rallied a group of creative neighbors, friends and vendors for a monthly “Inspiration Hour,” an open exchange of ideas and resources. She also helped start up Art Camp, a four-day cabin gathering at a restored 1940s summer camp on Lake Wandawega in Wisconsin. At Art Camp, more than 30 established designers and artists—including many Post 27 vendors—indulge their inner craft-maker spirit by participating in a slew of art activities involving restoring and reusing old materials. At a past camp, the collaborative crew built a giant treehouse from scraps and reclaimed parts. “We collage, we make birdhouses…it’s a real sense of community,” Finney-Hoffman says. During breaks, the campers swim, sit around the bonfire, cook meals and draw inspiration by viewing slideshows of each other’s work.
“I feel so fortunate to be surrounded with talent,” she says. “Collaborating is a meeting of the minds, and a product is so much richer and well-designed if there are multiple people involved.” She adds, “Collaborating creates community and new relationships, and that’s my favorite aspect of owning the store.”
Molly Each is a freelance writer, storyteller, editor, and teacher living in Chicago.
Photos by Jane Gaspar
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