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A museum for home decor

From New York to Vientiane, Paris to Bangkok, American Efi Haninkes has made his way through the fashion industry, the UN, Central department store and the home textiles industry, and is now bringing a singular and unique contribution to the island of Phuket. Fascinated by crystals from an early age, Efi only recently decided to open Fe2 Decor.

natural-resources
By Shayan Amin

Thursday 9 June 2016, 07:00PM


While labelled as a home decor store,  it is more akin to an artistic museum,  chock-full of not just crystals and minerals, but with a myriad of inimitable  works of wood carvings and crystals,  handmade silks and jewellery that are  not only extraordinary in their creativity, but unique in their origins. The  quaint, tasteful shop bears Efi’s aesthetic and tastes distinctly.

Quite clearly, the magical emporium that is Fe2 Decor would not have come about without Efi’s almost haphazard path in life. From designing and producing prêt-à-porter in his early career in Paris, his beginnings in patternmaking brought him to Tunisia, where he learnt how to take his skills to an industrial level. In an expedition to bring beautiful hand-woven Laotian textiles to France, he wound up, quite surprisingly, working for the United Nations.

“Somehow I stumbled upon a UN development project called Lao Cotton. They produced beautiful hand-woven cottons and I wanted to make clothes from these,” Efi recalls. The UN offered him a job as a consultant in their sewing section, part of a project to empower and preserve traditional Laotian cottons, and Efi was key in organising the production process to make this happen. He stayed in Laos for seven years, but more importantly, his gallery carries the mark of those years: a selection of beautiful silk textiles is available, all hand-woven from Laos and Cambodia.

Despite having fallen in love with Paris, Efi, in his own words, “caught the Asian bug”. He opened his own outlets at Central stores in Bangkok in 1994, with the aim of bringing over from Laos contemporary fashions made from Laotian textiles. For Efi, of course, this was yet another door to another world to explore.

“All of a sudden, I was living in Laos and living in Thailand. I thought if I was selling in Thailand, I might as well produce in Thailand.”

That lasted, of course, until the 1997 Asian financial crisis, “I was a designer but here I was running a business. I can’t manage all of this,” he recalls. Efi closed down his label, and in yet another turn of happenstance, he began working in home textiles with a large home textiles manufacturer and exporter. This is the final piece in what makes the foundations of Fe2 Decor. In creating textiles for Europe, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, US, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Efi spent 18 years designing and travelling around the world, attending trade exhibitions and shows. He knows his interior décor, and his store is built around that expertise.

QSI International School Phuket

With his own store now in Boat Avenue, Efi does not travel as much as he used to. Instead, he has everything sent to him. The crystals, geodes and minerals alone: amethysts, copper, agate, sandstone, jasper, from Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Germany, Morocco, India. They come in a vast range of iterations: from intimate jewel boxes to massive 300 kilogramme geodes. Formed over millions of years, they are sent from the furthest reaches to here in Thailand, where Efi has graceful wrought iron and wood bases made in Chiang Mai to complement the pieces.

Laotian silks are accompanied by Laotian wood, elegantly crafted bowls made of stunning ebony and rosewood. Efi has rounded off his magical emporium with antique jewellery, made of ancient beads from private collections, put together into modern compositions that draw you in with eye catching asymmetry.

A highlight of Efi’s store are the two phonolite minerals from Argentina that act as gongs. Intense black in colour, smooth and cool to the touch, they sound clear and resonant when rapped. This interior decoration gallery, however, is best described in Efi’s own words, “Uniqueness, another dimension, giving a bohemian feeling to any space.”

Full of inimitable art pieces, the gallery reflects Efi’s wealth of skill and taste that provide for a unique range of pieces that are worth viewing, even if you’re not interested in purchasing anything. If you’re completely blind to aesthetics, some do believe in the energy and healing powers of crystals, in case you need some help there.

Fe2 Decor is located at 49/33 Boat Avenue, Baan Don – Cherng Talay Rd. To view some of the stunning pieces online, visit Fe2Decor.com

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