At a time when so many of us are starved for inspirational browsing, news of Kostas Anagnopoulos’s recently-opened upstate New York antiques shop, Pidgin, sent ripples of excitement throughout the design world. Kostas himself could relate: since his purchase of a pelican-shaped Art Deco bottle opener at the age of 14 , he’s been on the hunt. “I think all antique and vintage dealers who go into business do so in part because they’ve been accumulating for so long that it’s just time to practice detachment and share the finds,” he tells us. “That’s certainly true for me.”
Kostas is also a poet and a seasoned salesperson—he and his husband, Jesse James, founded the creative consultancy/design firm Aesthetic Movement, which we have been chronicling for years: see the couple’s city apartment here and the upstate tent resort they designed here. As anticipated, Kostas’s offerings are far-ranging and soulful: “I’m a very democratic collector. I like patina, and often gravitate towards the homespun and anonymous, how something feels in the hand. The thing has to have nice lines, like a drawing within a larger space.” Come see.
Not all is vintage but everything has a story: the wood-handled knives in the glass case are by The Shin Blacksmith, a fifth-generation Korean family business. Writes Kostas on Instagram: “Master Shin hand makes each piece using the repurposed carbon steel of railroad track, which is rich in manganese and can be heated to a very high temperature. The handles are chestnut, slowly dried in sunlight for years, so it is lightweight, strong, and rot-resistant.”
Shown here: a driftwood lamp—”the most monumental I’ve ever seen,” says Kostas—and, on the floor, an outsized ceramic fruit of mysterious origin.
Of the materials he gravitates to, Kostas explains: “Glass is always good to brighten an area and create reflection. Wood is extremely soulful and has a sense of life. Metal can be weighty and formidable or shiny and delicate.”
Above L: Kostas is the son of Greek immigrants–he grew up on Chicago’s West Side speaking Greek before English. His Uncle Dionysus tends the family orchard on an island across from Puglia, Italy, and oversees its small-batch olive oil production. “The olives on the island are a bit spicy. Because the oil is always from the first cold press, it’s the most beautiful shade of green. I didn’t want to add a label; I wanted the olive oil to say it all, but my husband convinced me that some sort of simple label was necessary. We chose Didot for the font: the Didot family were among the first to set up printing presses in the newly independent Greece in the early 19th century. Above R: Pidgin’s honey is from photographer Victor Schrager’s nearby hives. Photographs by Jesse James.
Pidgin is at 7811 Route 81, in Oak Hill, New York, a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of NYC (and 30 minutes west of Hudson). Kostas will soon be selling shop offerings on his website. You can read some of his poetry here.