Material Culture, located in an off-the-beaten-path enterprise zone in northwest Philadelpia, is a 25,000-sq.-ft. converted train garage where rugs, furniture, basketry, tapestries, pottery and crafts from cultures as divergent as Romania, China and India coexist. Co-founders George Jevremovic and Teddy Sumner are rug merchants who, on their travels throughout the world, realized the potential market for furniture and other items created by craftspeople in the villages they've visited.
The "store," with its 35-ft. high sloping walls, exposed ceilings and plaster walls, is a collection of merchandise vignettes carefully composed by the two owners. 19th-century, curve-backed Chinese chairs are paired with rustic chests from Nepal and India. Tapestries adorn the walls and rugs are grouped with hand-carved totems, baskets and sofas, chairs and tables. For dramatic backdrops, Jevremovic and Sumner hired artists to paint primitive murals and create vivid milk-paint washes on the walls. Rather than placing ads to attract shoppers to their out-of-the-way store, the owners stage events such as lectures by well-known folklorists and parties with ethnic bands and food and drinks.
Design: Material Culture, Philadelphia -- George Jevremovic and Teddy Sumner, co-founders; Margot D'Amico and Maria Churchill (graphics); Michael Heffernan (fixturing)
Murals: Rebecca Johnson, Philadelphia
Signage: Robert Alford, Philadelphia
Photography: Gary McKiniis, Philadelphia