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Pergola Home: Landscapes for the Mind and Eye

pergo1By Dale Stewart

It all began as an accident. “Friends of ours bought the building, and they had a tenant back out at the last minute. They suggested that we just try it as a pop-up shop.” So David Whitman says, remembering the beginnings of his and Peter Stiglin’s eight-year-old garden and home-furnishings emporium, Pergola Home.  “So we thought, let’s just throw something together. We filled it up with special plants, beautiful pots, and odd natural curiosities. We put it together in two weeks and sold out of everything in stock that weekend, and thought, now what?” In 2012, Pergola expanded into the building next door, and the lot currently numbers more than 1,400 square feet. Whitman adds, “We thought it’d be a little weekend thing, but as anyone knows these things take on a life of their own.”

Pergola HomeArtfully inspired by nature, Pergola Home is a mix of exquisite things that work in unpredictable ways. The space overflows with nature’s wonders all year round; during the fair weather months, it opens up to the outdoors. Clients get a stunning waterfall view while perusing the well-chosen outdoor furniture for sale, such as the Fermob Garden Chair by designer Frédéric Sofia ($300), which can be also be found in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Stiglin (pictured to the right of Whitman above) admires them from an upper terrace, saying, “Those chairs are so smartly done. They’re lightweight, you can stack them, and they’re designed to never touch so they don’t scratch.”

derianWith garden landscapes mixed with aged-teak dining sets ($1,500 & up) and rustic benches, plant containers ($24 & up), and seasoned stone garden ornaments ($345 & up), The New Preston destination spot is filled with uncommon finds, picture-perfect houseplants, and orchids — carefully selected from local growers — plus finely aged pots, on-topic coffee-table books, and weathered antiques. “David is our in-house creatologist,” Stiglin says. “He carefully edits the best out of the collections we carry.” Some of the hand-picked selections include pieces from John Derian; Ben Wolff unglazed pottery; Noguchi lighting; Campo de Fiori; Christopher Marley’s “Pheromone specimens,” and Stephanie Wargo botanical cards. Astier de Villatte incense are from a “Japanese company that’s been making incense for 600 years. It’s a perfect collaboration between a Japanese traditional maker and a French sensibility. Whenever you get those two together it’s fabulous.” Another fab find are Atelier Rain’s triple milled soaps from a local artisan. “He had a little shop up the street, but he was never there; he just had a little sign that said ‘Go to Pergola.’”

screenThe pair also travels to Japan every year to bring back classic, rustic Japanese antiques. “Peter is fluent in the language, he went to college there, so that makes it easier,” Whitman explains. His own pre-Pergola life was in creative marketing and merchandising, while Stiglin drifted around the globe, living in Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, and (Communist) Leningrad before returning to his New York City hometown, where he was involved in music and theater productions on a large scale (think Madison Square Garden big) and later worked as a magazine editor for a national environmental publication. One sought-after piece from their latest buying trip is a large-screen traditional Japanese folding screen that already has various designers and clients vying for it. “We mix old and new things: Japanese items work well with the French designs. We find a common thread between everything in the store.”

Stiglin and Whitman see the store from different sides, and that’s part of what works, Stiglin feels. “David is the genius of Pergola; he really approaches this from an artistic standpoint. He creates these well-thought-out interior landscapes. My approach comes from the brain and his comes from the soul.” Together they breathe life into the OCD perfect vignettes with their selection of topiary and preserved botanicals, aged terra-cotta planters, 300-year-old stone garden fixtures, botanical books, and wall art.

perg2Stiglin also serves as the de facto New Preston block captain, organizing summer and winter strolls, maintaining the village website and “gently” getting vendors’ participation. Suzanne Cassano from Privet House swears the only reason she was able to open her re-located shop on time was because he made her. “Peter really put the hammer down and made me come up with a firm date and stick to it. It’s the only reason we opened when we did.”

Both Whitman and Stiglin seek out artisanal craftspeople near and far, and artisans seek out the store as it has developed a reputation for intricate, off-the-beaten-path goods. Whitman sums up the store by saying “We love to find people doing interesting things. The best way I can describe Pergola is to say what we are not. We are not a card store or a paper store, but if we are going to have a card, it’s going to be the most extraordinary one you’ve seen. We are not a flower or home-garden place, [but a] nature design store. It’s always changing here. It’s an ongoing puzzle. I don’t think we will ever figure it out.”

Pergola Home
7 East Shore Road, New Preston, CT
(860) 868-4769

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Posted by Dale Stewart on 07/16/13 at 02:15 PM • Permalink