Talk of the Town - Magnificent Obsession April 06 2005

Eddie Lawrence makes collecting a form of art

The simple gray and white exterior of Eddie Lawrence's Spring Lake home belies the complexity of the collections that the rare book and art enthusiast has amassed within. Shelves house classical busts and small sculptures while contemporary art lines the walls and Swedish funkis furniture dots the interior.

A successful dealer in decorative and rare books, Lawrence's personal collection graces bookshelves at his home and includes everything from Swedish texts used mainly for ornamental purposes to old English prints. Filled with decorative objects, his home's accessories each feature their own story, with Lawrence carefully choosing the designers and artists whose work graces his home. Pieces include a Philip Evergood picture, a mid-19th-century German rocking chair, and dozens of colorful Erik Hoglund glass creations. Lawrence is about to unleash his obsession upon the city with the opening of a vintage furniture shop in the old White Meat Packing Plant at the corner of 14th Street and Howell Mill Road.

Creative Loafing: Looking at your home, I can see you collect art of all sorts. How did this passion arise?

Lawrence: I'm a collector. I used to like to mix traditional furnishings with modern art, but art is a very personal thing for everybody. I have a lot of facets to my personality, so I have a lot of different styles in the house.

Tell me about your personal book collection.

My collection's got a little bit of collectible forms, but most of it is English in finer bindings. Much of these are late-19th-century and many of them are prime bindings.

By looking at a book, how can you tell a fine binding?

I can practically look at a book and tell you how old it is. I know the periods - I learned all this from working with books for five to six years now.

Why would somebody care to have an old book in the house that is in a language he or she cannot understand?

It's just like I have vases in my house that don't have flowers in them. They are beautiful home accents.

You also have a collection of Swedish funkis furnishings.

This is one of my favorite eras from Sweden dating to the late 1940s. It's part of the Swedish functionalist movement. This is the line I'm going to be carrying in the store. It has a modern edge to it, but it's also very functional.

You mentioned the store. Tell me more about it.

The store will be called My Century Modern. The reason for this name is it shows the whole 20th century, and it will carry anything that has modernist influences or a modern feel to it. It's going to be Swedish, American, Danish and Italian furniture.

Why do you like searching for old treasures?

I really like the books and the furniture. I've always been fascinated with history and there is a lot of history involved in what I do. I learn a little bit more every time I go on a trip.


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