- Allow me to introduce you to Robin Wade. You might just want to go directly to his website. His furniture creations are some of the most eye-catching and unique ones you’ll ever see. Examples can be found in the lobby area of the Marriott Shoals, the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism and Visitors Center, Court Street Market, Bank Independent, and at the Reception Center of the Rosenbaum House. No. Mr. Wade’s work does NOT come under the heading of “budget-friendly.” His pieces are high-end, and are crafted over a long period of time.
His is a fascinating, environmentally-aware process. He seeks out trees (oftentimes, walnut) that can be harvested sustainably. He prepares the wood for an aging period, and then fashions it in the least-invasive way possible. Here are just a couple of examples:
2. The next name to learn is Natalie Chanin. Her clothing and home accessories company is called Alabama Chanin, and she, too, has a beautiful website. Think recycled materials. Think hand-sewn, as well as machine sewn by local seamstresses. Think one-of-a-kind. And, you begin to get a sense of her style and what makes her designs unique. The Alabama Chanin Factory is in Florence, AL. Tours are available, and a very upscale cafe is on site. There you will find a menu featuring fresh, locally-grown, organic produce with soups, salads, desserts and daily specials. The website’s calendar shows many times when sewing workshops are held.
3. The third name is one that you will recognize — Frank Lloyd Wright. But, it is significant here because the only house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Alabama is in Florence. The Rosenbaum House is also the only house designed by Wright to be open for tours in the Southeast. The house was bought from the Rosenbaum family by the city when Mrs. Rosenbaum could no longer live in it. Extensive restoration work was done, and it is now a stellar example of Wright’s Usonian style. In another interesting tie-in, Robin Wade considers Frank Lloyd Wright to be one of his primary design mentors.
And, here’s a bonus name for you — Betty Sue Matthews. She is not from The Shoals, but she is a native Alabamian and a folk artist with a story similar to that of Grandma Moses. Here are a couple of links to stories about her you might enjoy. The Troy Messenger profiled her, since she is originally from nearby Brundidge, and DetourArt also featured her. I found out about her when I was exploring the fitness area of the Shoals Marriott. Several of her works are on the walls, and they were painted on corrugated paper. I wish I had known about her when I was teaching elementary school art.
So, I hope you now have even MORE reasons to explore The Shoals.
Stay tuned for future posts about The Shoals:
2 Luxurious Places to Spend the Night
1 Long Wall That Will Inspire You