An Elusive Czech Glass Blower

The work at Found Object is always new and exciting, forever changing, and never ending. A big part of the business is discovering new sources of inspiration for product, be it through visits to trade shows or chance encounters.

Recently, Salvo embarked on a scheduled trip to Germany for the Heimtextil show, the largest textile expo in the world. The plan was to then visit Istanbul to check on production for the NY NOW show in New York.

But in between, he had scheduled a three day sojourn with Leslie to the beautiful city of Prague, mostly to gain a bit of rest and relaxation with his wife, partly to discover new product, but also, unbeknown to Leslie, to try to uncover a Czech glass blower named Borek Sipek.

Sightseeing in Prague

Salvo picked up Leslie at the airport in Frankfurt, and the duo rented a comfy BMW X3 for their 450km drive along the autobahn to Prague. Five hours later they arrived on the banks of the Vitava river and pulled up in front of their hotel overlooking the famous Charles Bridge.1

Leslie had a full list of tourist activities she wanted to do and places she wanted to visit, and their days were filled with sightseeing and eating. In the old town, they went to a classical concert in the Spanish synagogue and meandered through the eerily crowded Jewish Cemetery.2

4In the new part of city, they visited the National Theater, the modern (1930’s) Church of the Sacred Heart, and the expansive Olsany Cemetary, known for its incredible art nouveau monuments. They often took the underground metro and above ground trams to get around.53

67They feasted on delicacies such as goulash and svickova, a popular Czech dish consisting of sirloin and vegetables, boiled with double cream.


Famous Czech Glass

One of the highlights of this mini-vacation was discovering the ubiquitous stores selling beautiful hand-blown glassware. Goblets, bowls, wine glasses and vases – the array of colors and choices were mesmerizing. Prague is especially famous for its glass, precisely because the minerals specific to the soil in the region lends itself to an exceptional clarity to the finished product.1615

Salvo and Leslie were eager to discover new sources of glass product, especially after the great success Found Object has had with Moroccan glassware.

In Search of Borek

But all this time, Salvo had another goal in mind.  His real interest was locating one specific glassblower – Borek Sipek – whose work Jude had been avidly collecting for more than 20 years. Finding him would prove to be frustratingly difficult.19

After they discovered the contact numbers and addresses on his website were not current, they asked the concierge at their hotel, who told them about his glass factory which was over 200 km north.  No one knew if he had a local studio or showroom. They then started asking local storeowners, even knocking on the doors of private homes at his previous address, but again to no avail. They inquired at a local bookstore that sold hundreds of books on Czech design and glasswork, but again they came up empty.

Finally, after many vain attempts, they gave up and began walking out of the Old Town.  But a colorful window display drew then into one last shop. There they found a shopkeeper who seemed to know something, but was reluctant to share any info. When they asked if she had any Borek Sipek pieces, she became irritated. Realizing she wasn’t going to get a sale, she waved them out of the store and brusquely pointed to the back, indicating a small alleyway off the main street. Then she locked the door behind them.

Down the alley Salvo and Leslie ventured until they arrived at a small inner courtyard, where a lone art gallery, completely hidden from street view, featured and sold the work of Borek Sipek!

A Surprise New Friend

And the surprises continued. The gallery owner was lovely and shared all kinds of information about Borek with them. Thrilled as they were to have found his work, they selected a porcelain teapot crafted by the artisan himself in the 1980’s as a gift for Jude. But then, completely unexpectedly, the gallery owner offered to call Borek so they could meet him. Within twenty minutes, the elusive Borek Sipek arrived in the flesh.2021

They started chatting and he offered to sign a card for Jude. Before long they were at a local pub, dining on steak tartare and Czech sausage and drinking the local pilsner.

After a most enjoyable evening, they bid their farewells and readied themselves for the drive back to Frankfurt the next morning and the flight to Istanbul. Another fruitful, and completely inspirational, trip in the Found Object logbook.

Back to Early Roots — ShweShwe

Found Object’s latest creation is a colorful tabletop textile collection – napkins and runners – made from a unique selection of Shweshwe designs from South Africa.

This fabulous collection will be presented at NY NOW, the international gift show that begins in early February at the Javits Center.

From Humble Beginnings

Shweshwe has a most complex and interesting history in South African culture. The presence of indigo cloth dates back to the 17th century when the Dutch brought back samples made in India. As its popularity grew, French missionaries are said to have presented Mishoeshoe 1, then ruling leader of a large clan in present-day Lesotho, with a gift of printed indigo cloth.banner1

A strong appeal was soon established, hence the name shoeshoe or isishweshwe. Over the years, the working women in South Africa adopted Shweshwe as part of their everyday clothing. The intricate patterns and designs became a highly visible part of the culture that still exists today.

From the Townships to the Runway

Starting in the early 1980’s, after a considerable British investment, Da Gama Textiles, one of the oldest factories in South Africa, began printing cloth with the unique patterns in earnest.  A decade later it purchased the sole rights to produce the known Three Cats range of designs and had all the copper rollers shipped out to its factory.7Sign1

Da Gama is now one of South Africa’s last remaining textile producers as so much of the printing business has moved offshore to China and India. Headquartered in Zwelitsha, an area in the impoverished Eastern Cape, Da Gama has made a significant imprint with its three most prominent brands, namely Three Cats, Three Leopards and Toto 6 Star, all of which are authenticated by a back-stamp on the fabric.banner2

One of the company’s biggest and most recent forays has been in the world of fashion. It has collaborated with and sponsored several up-and-coming South African designers to showcase the Shweshwe collection. Over the years, the patterns and colors have expanded greatly to become a very contemporary, hip and cool fashion statement.

A Blast from the Past

Jude and Salvo were very drawn to the original prints and textiles as part of their heritage growing up in South Africa.

About a year ago, during a trip to Cape Town, the duo ventured to Bellville, an urban enclave of Cape Town that is home to many retailers offering the Shweshwe fabrics. It was there that they were mesmerized by the full spectrum of colors and patterns available, from luscious pinks and oranges to warm browns, and of course, indigo. Salivating, they grabbed a host of samples in varying patterns and colors and brought them back home to the Found Object warehouse.

Their idea was to make a range of pillows and table linens, namely napkins and runners. They soon discovered that the table items were a huge hit with customers, and it was Leslie who then had the bright idea to create a range of product with bright colored trim.

Shweshwe on the Table

After the initial success, Found Object decided to import a few hundred meters of indigo fabric in a wide assortment of designs. They then created a line of napkins and table runners trimmed in bright pink.

Just last week they received a shipment of four different designs each in pink, green, orange, turquoise and indigo, with which they plan to create a whole new batch of napkins and table runners, again accented with bright color trim.Banner3

Many items in the Shweshwe collection will be available at NY NOW which opens February 2 and runs through February 6.13

The Wholesale Launch of a New Jewelry Line.

Jewelry is not new to Found Object’s extensive list of individualized products, however, a cohesive brand that has found its way into the wholesale market is entirely novel. For the first time, the company will sell its jewelry in a wide variety of boutique stores around the country, rather than solely online.

Introducing the CHAKRA COLLECTIONPostcard2

The Chakra Collection is made in Jaipur for Found Object. Named for the healing properties of natural stones, the pieces are very feminine, characterized by gems such as labradorite, golden rutile, green amethyst and prenite.Banner3

All the stones are set in gold plated brass and are cut individually to fit into each of Found Object’s designs so there is complete flexibility to select the type and color of the stones.

In addition, many of the individual pendant pieces can be removed from their chains allowing anyone to mix, match and add pieces of their own. The line is light, playful and highly affordable – many of the pieces retail between $75-$100.Banner4

The Hard Work Pays Off

The inspiration for the new collection came from three sources:  Jude’s personal jewelry box, ideas that had been in her mind for years and jewelry that was already on offer in the marketplace that she believed could value from Found Object’s spin and expertise.

Prior to NY NOW, the huge wholesale home, lifestyle and gift show held this past August at the Javits Center, Found Object sold its jewelry online. The goal had always been to wholesale pieces to specialty boutiques, so early this year, when Jude and Leslie traveled to India, they decided to develop several collections for the New York show.

They carefully and personally developed a palette and painstakingly selected stones. They worked with their jewelers – stone cutters and setters – in Jaipur to fashion pieces that were befitting of Found Object’s aesthetic. After months of hard work, they saw their project come to fruition with a new line, the CHAKRA COLLECTION.

The collection is now available at a variety of specialty stores throughout the United States. Please contact us at 212 254 1515 for further details. You can also visit our website at to see additional pieces available for sale.

Uncovering the Many Rewards of Turkey – A Photo Album

Found Object recently embarked on a buying trip to Turkey, traveling by car, bus, plane and boat to uncover a trove of goods. Luggage was lost twice en route, but the many rewards the country has on offer  – colorful markets, beautiful bazaars, hidden gardens and restaurants, intoxicating aromas, delicious food, quaint towns, turquoise coves and, of course, warm, welcoming locals – made up for any inconveniences.

The pictures that follow capture the many facets of this most mesmerizing country.   Untitled-1 Untitled-2 Untitled-3Untitled-6Untitled-8Untitled-11photo 2photo 1Untitled-10Untitled-12Untitled-14

The Insane, Circuitous Voyage of a Package of Scarves

Many businesses go through shipping nightmares from time to time, and Found Object is no exception. The company receives multiple packages daily from all over the world, so it’s expected to witness a few snags along the way.

But none was as hairy as a recent shipment of scarves that finally made it to the warehouse with only hours to spare before a projected sale event. Panic, angst, fear – only a handful of the emotions experienced recently by the entire Found Object team.

The story of how a package of scarves managed to travel the world in the period of a week really sheds light on the realm of shipping and how product miraculously makes it to market.

Scarves finally at our warehouse.

A Moment of Panic

It all started last February, when Jude and Leslie were at the Noida, India trade show. They happened upon a beautiful selection of cotton and linen blended scarves they thought would be wonderful for a spring and summer collection.

When the duo returned home, they offered the scarves to a particular online site that, with only rough images and detailed descriptions, agreed the pieces would be perfect for a Summer Pool event slated for early June.  The scarves were ordered, production was scheduled and delivery confirmed.

All good, except the scarves didn’t arrive until 18 hours pre-sale!  Typically, Found Object and its online partners need a three-week lead time to photograph, edit and upload product images, so one can imagine the sense of urgency the week before the items finally did arrive.

Frantically pacing the warehouse, Leslie was at the forefront of the panic-stricken week, checking online tracking hourly, stalking the FedEx delivery guy every day as he made his rounds.

Leslie was closely monitoring the situation.

From Kolkata to Brooklyn

The shipping debacle began May 28 at 7pm, when the package was received in Kolkata. On Thursday, May 30 a tracking message stated “a delay beyond our control” and the package remained in Kolkata. By Sunday, June 2, the package had traveled to New Delhi. It was then in transit finally arriving at Paris, Charles de Gaulle, on June 3.

June 4 and 5 were busy days for the package, with multiple postings on the FedEx tracking site. On June 4, tracking indicated the package was in transit in various locations – first Paris, then Munich, then Lombardo, Italy. At 10:32pm the package was still in Italy, but then managed to clear US customs, arriving in Memphis, Tennessee at 12:32am June 5 (the sale was slated for June 6 – less than 36 hours away!)

It took all the wee hours of the morning before the shipment moved out of the Midwest and made it to Newark. The package then arrived at the Brooklyn FedEx facility at 9:56am and was finally delivered to Found Object at 2:11pm on June 5. Phew!

Quite the tracking history.

The beautiful scarves were all unpacked, photographed, edited and uploaded just in time for the event.  And, as both partners in the sale had hoped, they sold very, very well.

A selection of scarves from this shipment.

From Artisan Tool to Objet d’Art

Jaipur, India has been home to the art of wood block printing for hundreds of years, producing textiles with some of the most elaborate patterns and colors. Over the years, automation and computerization has taken its toll, but the craftsmen in this region still vie to keep their art alive.

On a trip to India, Salvo visited a few of the local artisans, greatly admiring their work.  He was particularly fascinated by the actual wood blocks themselves – intricately carved pieces depicting certain motifs and patterns, many specific to the royalty that once thrived in the region.

He noted that many of the older blocks, those that had lost their sharpness and were no longer usable for printing, were in great abundance and pieces of art in their own right. True to the message of Found Object, he decided to collect them and display them in a way that could be sold as decorative art.

In the Days of the Mughals

The practice of block printing most likely originated in China about 2000 years ago. The art traveled to Rajasthan in the medieval period where the Mughal artisans began printing and dyeing cottons for royal processions and festivals.

Jaipur is one of the great centers for this style of printing, the process of which is intricate and extensive with more than one hundred specific designs that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Despite the advent of digital printing methods, a handful of local artisans have rejuvenated the craft of traditional hand block printing to a level of popularity that has made its way to the forefront of today’s interior design circles.

Repurposed at Found Object

The wood block is a relief matrix – areas that will depict “white” are cut away while the images that will depict “black” are left intact at the surface of the block. Ink is then applied and either stamped or rubbed on a piece of cotton cloth. For color printing, multiple blocks are used, one for every color.

Over time, about 10-20 years, the wood blocks wear out and do not form an even print. At this time they can no longer be used. Enter Found Object.

Many of the pieces Salvo discovered had been discarded and were covered in print ink. The team decided to mount some of them on metal stands and apply paint to the fronts to highlight the intricate patterns.

They decided to stack some of the big collections of wood blocks. Others were placed in various colorful containers – vintage egg baskets and brightly colored carved wooden bowls that had begun to fade.

These curious wood blocks, each with a unique history, have come full circle – from their humble beginnings as artisan tools to the hands of Found Object, where they have been repurposed, redesigned and elevated to veritable objets d’art.

After the Fire…..

About a month ago, the Stoch family was awakened very early one morning by the smell of smoke and the sound of fire engines outside their apartment in lower Manhattan. A fire in the commercial building next door was the culprit.

The following morning, the family was brusquely woken once again, this time by firemen with hoses and lots and lots of water. Another fire next door, and this time the roof had collapsed.

The Stoch’s had no choice but to leave. Their apartment was completely water logged, walls were badly damaged and everything – from clothes to furniture – reeked of smoke. Plus, the city issued a mandatory evacuation order, effective immediately, until the building next door was demolished, and a structural assessment of their apartment was determined.

First Things First

Luckily, Jude was away in Cape Town, so she missed all the chaos. But Salvo, Leslie, the kids and their dog, Blue, swiftly mobilized to a nearby hotel.

The first issue of the day was shopping for clothes. They had none but the items on their backs. Next on the list was packing up the apartment in order to get everything cleaned, and then shipping everything into storage for the duration of the ordeal. Finally, they had to deal with insurance and finding a new place to live. At this stage of the game it became clear that moving back into their apartment was out of the question for at least three to four months.

Found Object to the Rescue

After about ten days of hotel living and with Jude soon to return home, the Stoch family was catapulted into a pair of temporary digs in very different areas of town, both of which were mighty short on furnishings.

In true Salvo fashion – he who is never afraid to take the opportunity to get things done on the fly – a truck was hired, the Found Object studio was raided and two homes were decorated in the blink of an eye.

Two diverse landscapes, two opposing elevations – both equally beautiful abodes after the Found Object makeover.

Apartment One – Sky High

The view to the west.

Window seat in the sky.
Silk velvet ikat pillows and cube. Vintage central Russian serving bowls.

Indi happy as a clam in her new pad.
Suzani upholstered sofa and cube. Silk velvet ikat floor pillow and vintage central Russian bowl.

Jasper in his new bedroom.
Vintage Kantha stitch blankets on white damask embroidered quilts. Micro-fleece plush throw blankets, and cork wall/floor tiles used as bulletin board.

Sophie’s bed and her homework, waiting to be started.
Vintage Kantha throw blanket with white cotton damask embroidered quilt and sham set.

Apartment Two – Street Level

The view to the west.

Jude’s new living area. Seating for 6.
Vintage hand embroidered Suzani ottoman, cube and chair cushions. Silk and velvet ikat throw pillows. British colonial cane chairs. Teak Indian long bench with kuba cloths from Zaire.

Zimbabwean Reed Basket filled with rattan pod beads, African dinka ring and carved camel bone amulets.

Tea time at Jude’s.
Moroccan hand-etched tea glasses with vintage central Russian teapot.

A Little Visitor.
Eating almonds in a bowl, from Granny Becky’s tea set.

The Thrill of the Find

It’s true that the thrill is in the find. What’s even more true is that the find can be where you least expect it – at a corner store in some remote land or even at an outdoor market right in your backyard.

On a recent trip to Cape Town, Jude uncovered some exquisite hand-woven baskets in a very serendipitous way.

While strolling the streets, partly as native, partly as tourist, she spotted a giant basket hanging on an office wall right next to a corner store. The intrepid shopper that she is forced her to hit the local street-side market to uncover its origin. She quickly discovered that these special baskets are fabricated from river reeds found in a remote and hard to access village called Binga, which lies in Northern Zimbabwe on the shores of Lake Kariba, close to the border with Zambia.

Without haste, she grabbed her nieces, Louise and Jessica, and the trio ventured to Green Market Square in central Cape Town where they were approached by vendors in all directions plying these Zimbabwean beauties in a grand variety of sizes. Some carried them in feed sacks or hemp bags, others stacked piles in their arms, all hoping to make a sale.

Selection was tough because each basket had a wonderfully individual design and quirky nuance.

Through a series of crazy and colorful coincidences and introductions, Jude and Louise met Lorraine and her sister Margaret. Originally from Zimbabwe, the two regularly make the three day slog from Cape Town to Harare, buying baskets so they can bring them to market in Cape Town.

The final choices came down to size. They only selected those that were easy to ship back to the US and that the Found Object team would be able to group into sets of three, photograph and make readily available for future sale.

Sadly enough, baskets more than 18 inches in diameter did not make the cut and had to stay behind for someone else to discover.

Shopping in the Souk – Salvo and Leslie Travel to Morocco

Last year at the Paris trade show, Salvo and Jude bought Moroccan tea glasses and bowls that were a tremendous hit in the U.S. So, they decided it would be best to go directly to the source to uncover new product.

On the trip to Morocco, Salvo brought Leslie, hoping they could mix a little pleasure along with business. While they did manage to squeeze in one day of fun, they spent the first four days from dusk until dawn shopping and meeting with suppliers.

Baskets, rugs, teapots and more

In Marrakech, the duo worked diligently with a local guide and his assistant to select among rugs, blankets, textiles, glasses, ceramic bowls, metal trays, teapots, leather bags, poufs, slippers, kitchen utensils and wooden cutting boards, fossils and geodes, woven baskets, brass hardware and many other treasures they encountered as they traveled through the city.

Around every corner there seemed to be another amazing find. In the market, they met a woman weaving the most vibrant and colorful flat baskets.

Further along, they encountered a plethora of rug merchants. Each time they decided on the pieces they liked, they would find yet another, more beautiful rug, that they just could not leave behind.

One day, they went to the warehouse of a basket supplier who Salvo has been working with for more than ten years. Just outside of Marrakech, in a modest building with a bleating goat tied up at the entrance, was a wealth of creativity stemming from basic palm leaves – baskets, hand bags, and furniture.

The workman was incredibly weathered looking, but his demeanor was gentle and he was obviously proud of his hard labor over the years.  He shared techniques for braiding baskets, cutting leather handles and stamping leather trim.

Inside the Medina – not all work

When they first arrived, Salvo and Leslie hoofed around town, soon realizing they couldn’t really cover enough ground. The solution was the motor scooter – perfect to navigate the market and its crazy, crowded maze of narrow streets and corridors, jam packed with people, donkeys, horses and carts. 

They found the locals to be incredibly welcoming and warm, the city safe and clean. The food was a slice of heaven; varied, delicious and abounding in exotic flavors – tagines served in traditional bowls, delicately spiced keftas, aromatic mint tea, luscious dates, and freshly squeezed orange juice.

It seemed they always ordered too much. Despite the fact that a tagine is made mostly of vegetables, the dish is unbelievably filling. Likewise was the case with many of the other local delicacies. It took until the last day before they finally learned portion control.

Despite such a hectic shopping schedule, Salvo and Leslie did go on a couple of tourist outings. The first was to a dam about an hour outside the city. Along the way they cited some interesting sculpture on the side of the road.

They also made a trip to Jardin Majorelle, an exquisite indigo outdoor garden with a varied collection of trees and exotic plants. The museum there houses many pieces depicting Berber culture, as well as the full collection of Yves Saint Laurent’s “Love” collages and designs, which were used as his annual New Year’s cards.


The duo also had an interesting encounter with a snake charmer. Salvo posed and gave Leslie his phone, rushing her to “take the picture! take the picture!” Nervous as she was and afraid to get too close, she fumbled with the phone and shut it off. As she waited for the phone to turn back on, the snake charmer became inpatient, got up, left all his snakes with Salvo, and took the picture himself. All the while, Salvo stayed still as a statue with snakes squirming on his shoulders and hissing alongside him.

Many of Salvo and Leslie’s finds in Morocco will be available for sale in the upcoming months. Please plug in to our Facebook page at for a roster of upcoming sales and events.

Mastering the India Trade Show

The trade show is a business necessity for a company like Found Object, and the dynamic trio – Jude, Salvo and Leslie – frequently traverse the globe in search of fresh product and new supply sources.

A recent trip by Jude and Leslie to Greater Noida, a booming industrial town two hours south of Delhi, India, was special in that significant progress was made on the buying front.

In the early days of Found Object, visits to major shows posed certain difficulties: meeting reliable suppliers, fulfilling minimums, selecting product that would sell, as well as making new, trustworthy contacts. This time around Jude and Leslie knew exactly whom to see, thanks to countless visits in the past by Salvo to secure suppliers and resources. They reconnected with trusted sources and were able to purchase goods in bulk due to the business’ increased distribution network.

The Chaos that is India

Still, India is always a jolt to the system no matter how often one visits. Upon arrival there is a palpable culture shock and a blow to all five senses at once. Drivers generally don’t speak a word of English and maneuver like madmen, expertly avoiding every possible form of movable life – cows, dogs, goats, chickens, countless kids – not to mention bicycles, cars, trucks, buses, carriages, and rickshaws that jostle for space on any given street.  As one passes by, there is a sense of an invasion of privacy, as the daily routine is witnessed firsthand – families eating, children playing, others bathing, styling hair, shaving – living life right out on the streets.

Developing New Product Lines

This particular visit consisted of three days of intense product development – meeting with suppliers at the show, selecting and creating new items – as well as two days visiting potential new suppliers in Delhi and Jaipur.

Jude and Leslie worked diligently, putting together new lines of product for Found Object. Their choices promise a whole host of creative ideas for the year ahead.

Scarves have been very popular selling items.  Previously, product had been sourced in wool, but they’ve added beautiful new pieces in silks and cottons to the collection. Blankets also sell well. Mohair product in multiple color blends were selected as well as pricier items made from lamb’s wool.

Other purchases consisted of napkin rings in carved wood, resin, bone and shell; wooden bowls, cake stands and serving trays; blue and white ceramic mugs, plates, teacups and saucers; linen napkins, table runners and kitchen towels; decorative accessories, such as tassels in cotton, jute and silk to hang on door knobs or tie back curtains; drawer knobs made of glass, metal, ceramic and wood, and men’s bags in burlap and jute to add to the popular leather collection.

A special favorite find was paper product, namely origami birds, as well as beautiful handmade designs that Jude and Leslie plan to transform into a holiday paper collection – wrapping paper, colorful twine and special scissors.

Also new to the collection will be intricately wood-carved wall art that ranges in size from 6 to 36 inches.

Last but not least were the trove of gems selected for three new jewelry lines: Bridal, consisting of pearls, gold, white quartz, hand-cut crystal, white topaz and Indian diamonds; Spring/Summer, which will include a variety of blue and green stones, golden rutile and chalcedony; and Fall/Winter, featuring darker beads, such as ruby, amethyst, tourmaline, prenite and labradorite.

The Chaos Comes to an End

By the end of five lengthy days, the mayhem had turned into a certain kind of normalcy, at least as normal as can be expected in India.  And Jude and Leslie had amassed a trove of treasures for Found Object.

The show closed with ceremonies in full pomp and swing.

For their sendoff, Jude and Leslie were donned with a couple of ornamental pieces – a “small” diamond necklace and a trinket in Maharajah style, both of which unfortunately will not make it into the Found Object collection.

As they departed for home with their bags full of samples, notes and purchase orders, they kissed India a sweet goodbye for now. They both know many more visits lie ahead to this wonderfully, chaotic land.