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One Mercantile



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Style Shopping: Material Man Peter Fasano

Rural Intelligence Style
No one can accuse Peter Fasano of failing to see the forest for the trees.  He sees both the big picture and all the details—the forest, the trees, the branches, the bark, the leaves, the veins within the leaf, and, just as important, the empty spaces in between that make each shape perceptible.  Some of the patterns Fasano sees in his mind’s eye eventually get silk-screened by hand onto vast lengths of luxurious fabric at his Great Barrington studio.  From there, they are shipped to top-flight decorators, who, since 1975, have been using them in some of the grandest houses in the land, including those of Oprah Winfrey, the mayor of New York City, and the President of the United States.

“When I graduated from Parsons in 1972, I found that three-dimentional work didn’t interest me,” Fasano says.  “But I loved making patterns.” 

He also loves the Berkshires.  Just one degree of separation from Bunny Williams, the New York City decorator who has been famously weekending in Falls Village, CT for over thirty years, led Fasano to migrate from Manhattan to Great Barrington in 1990.  Those who’ve read Williams’ bestseller, An Affair with a House, will recall that her great friend, the late textile designer Alan Campbell, was such a frequent guest at her house that he ended up buying the place directly across the road.  There Fasano and his wife Elizabeth Hamilton (both above), and their then baby son Nicolas were Campbell’s frequent guests.  On one visit, the Fasanos decided to take a look at some real estate.  The rest, as they say, is history.

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Another serendipitous encounter in the Berkshires with the owner of a small silk-screening concern changed the way Fasano works.  “When I started out, I hand-painted fabric that I had tacked to a 4’ x 6’ hollow-core door,” he recalls. Today, inside a non-descript warehouse on a charm-challenged stretch of Route 7 a mile or so south of Guido’s, several very long tables stand side by side. Each is about 1/3 the length of a football field—31 yards, to be precise—and is topped with fabric stretched end to end.  One worker stands on each side of a table, and together they carefully position a magnesium-framed screen of nylon that has been photographically etched with a stencil.  The partners work their way rhythmically down the table, applying one color, one screen-length, or repeat, at a time.  Once that layer of the print has dried, they start again at the beginning with the next screen.  Color by color, shape by shape, the pattern forms and the fabric comes to life.

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Peter Fasano Ltd. employs up to 15 people to help create the thousands of yards of fabric that decorators order from the firm each year.  Wholesale prices start at $62 and go up to over $100 per yard.  All that quality and hand work is expensive, but, as luck would have it, we neighbors get to buy custom overruns, display panels, and memo samples large enough to make throw pillows for a relative song.  At Fasano’s outlet shop within the Great Barrington Antiques Center, stock, which is sold by the piece (not, as customary, by the yard), is usually replenished once a week.  Recent finds: 12 yards (enough for two pairs of curtains) of red velvet, $125; 5 yards (enough for a tailored bed skirt) of a fresh linen stripe, $50; a 99-inch by 32-inch fully-hemmed length of pale chartreuse glazed linen (good to go as a table runner), a mere $20.
Peter Fasano Ltd.
Great Barrington Antiques Center
964 South Main Street (Route 7)
Great Barrington; 413.644.8848
Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/17/11 at 09:21 AM • Permalink