A Thoroughly Modern Market, with Thoroughly High Prices

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This weekend marked the annual Houston Modern Market and Art Attack stopped by to take in the mod festivities. The Market overtook the Winter Street Studios and spread throughout the studios' two large floors. The setup was slightly confusing; most of the actual market was on the second floor, which took some aimless wandering to realize.

In the main showcase, small sections of the area were dedicated to individual vendors flaunting their wares. On display were a variety of vintage and modern furniture, jewelry, electronics and tchotchkes. There was a wall of old-school headphones that demanded attention, as well as a "vintage" Walkman for $75, which is probably three times its cost in 1983.

The majority of the vendors, however, were selling furniture. A new furniture company called base, which is slated to open its doors this summer, was on hand. Their striking pieces (chairs, armoires) were impressive, many made from a rich, burnt mahogany. Plodes studio, whose furniture is made of real-world materials and looks like it could furnish the house of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in Total Recall, displayed their ultramodern living room set. The set consists of a block-like couch and chairs that appear incredibly uncomfortable, although they were surprisingly lovely to sit upon.

Space Montrose, a newish store that now fills the unfortunately ever-tenant-changing location next to Brasil on Dunlavy, had a small space in the market. Their table, featuring American-only artwork, jewelry and clothing, was highly trafficked with the hipper crowd of people visiting the market.

Washington Avenue's Mid-Century, Metro Retro Furniture was also on hand, to taunt patrons with their über-cool desk lamps and 1960s chairs. Their whole get-up made you feel like you had just stepped into a Don Draper-style swingers' party and made you wish you were drinking a Manhattan at that very moment. Another highlight of the market was a brilliant turquoise "Papa Bear" chair and ottoman. The set, a Hans Wegner original, was selling for the astronomical price of $13,900.

"Ridiculously expensive" is how most of the asking prices seemed to be. For a serious collector this may be the norm, but for a casual admirer it felt pretty steep. Then again, the ten-dollar entrance charge probably turned most casual admirers away. This may have been on purpose; however, it's doubtful a modern market would have been infiltrated with riff-raff. They might have gotten a little more business had they nixed the door fee.

While it was fun to walk around and daydream about how hip your house could become, even daydreaming felt expensive.

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