Neat Neighborhood Find: Dragonfly Design/Decor

IMG_7180, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

It never ceases to amaze me how many unbelievable cool shops I randomly come across. I stumbled upon Dragonfly Design/Decor this past weekend at 1457 Church St, NW. At first I was thinking Dragonfly, Dragonfly isn’t that a terrible night club that recently closed? Thankfully this turned out to be a completely different Dragonfly. I had the chance to chat with owner Kim Hessler. While new to me Dragonfly has actually been at this location since January 2006 and prior to that was located in a faraway province called Virginia or something like that. The store is filled with unbelievably cool pieces from Central and Northern China. You can also find many period pieces here ranging from 100-250 years old. Of course you are going to pay for that coolness. Period cabinets range from $1200-$3000 and period tables run from $700-$2200. Of course you will also find less expensive pieces as well. Ms. Hessler explained to me that the store is stocked with goods from many Chinese provinces. Each province has its own style but Ms. Hessler’s favorite is Shanxi in Central China. Hessler also points out that many of these pieces blend so well with contemporary pieces because “they bring warmth with the aged wood that is a nice juxtaposition to contemporary pieces.” Hessler also points out that the store used to be an old auto garage yet surprisingly resembles a traditional Chinese home. Even if you’re not going to purchase something here it super cool to admire almost like visiting a museum. Check out some photos of the interior after the jump.

6 Comment

  • Does anyone know if this was the old location for the Rainbow Body Shop or was it further down Church St.?

  • Further down, I think. If I’m remembering correctly, Dragonfly is closer to the corner of 15th than Rainbow Body Shop was.

  • Look, I think this is very cool, but a friend of mine from college lives in China as a business consultant and the factory he works in is on the same block as an antique Mao statue factory. Which is to say that there are modern factories making modern Chinese items and selling them as antiques. I do not want to besmirch Dragonfly, but I wouldn’t view ANY Chinese antiques except through the eye of a skeptic. My friend also claimed there was a thriving business of seamstresses copying vintage 1950s and 60s designer dresses and selling them to Japanese collectors as originals. I really don’t trust the modern antiques industry if you can’t trace the provenance entirely within the US.

  • Yes, having lived in China, I can assure you that China itself is full of shops selling antiques from special antique-producing factories down the road. I think I once found an ancient Buddhist statue circa 2 weeks prior.

  • I’m with DCer and blicious. I lived in China and saw lots of faux antiques. All the vendors claimed “yes, yes, Ming Dynasty!” Dragonfly has beautiful pieces, and I’m sure many may be real antiques, but I see many in the pics that could be found in plentiful amounts, mass produced for the marketplace. The important thing is you buy a piece because you love it, and not just because it’s an antique.

  • I appreciate the noted cautiousness surrounding antiques from China. As the owner of Dragonfly Design Decor, I travel to remote provinces in China to hand select the items before there has been any cleaning, refinishing, and resculpting so that I can personally guarantee that each piece in our gallery is authentic and supports the specified information on our item tags. Period pieces (late Qing Dynasty) are becoming scarce and there are many skilled craftsmen churning our fabulous repros that are sold as “antiques’. Come in – I’d love to talk with you about some of our treasures.

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