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Best of Design: Out & About

Texas is teeming with undeniable design talent. Here, we pay homage to the Lone Star State’s hottest and brightest. 

Best Antiques/Vintage Store
Jean-Marc Fray 
“I love the deep and rich connection with art, history and my culture here,” says Jean-Marc Fray, who personally unearths the eclectic European treasures that make up his west Austin gallery. A native of Nice, France, whose clients include a coterie of celebrity designers, Fray enjoys sharing his passion for design with customers worldwide. “I feel an emotional bond with the right pieces,” he says, pinpointing his first interest in antiques to visits as a child to his grandparents’ richly textured home in Provence. Fray is passionate about every aspect of the business, which he runs with his wife and younger brother. “It’s a joy to engage with my dealers in Europe, to re-enact with and restore a piece, and finally to place it in the store as new decor.” Expect to find everything from 17th century chairs to art deco tables and modern paintings in Fray’s ever-changing salon. 1009 W. Sixth St., Ste. 102, Austin, 512.457.0077

Best Hardware and Fixtures Showroom

Alexander Marchant
Susan Alexander and Laurie Marchant have always been fascinated by houses—more specifically, by their preservation. The pair teamed up in 1997 when they purchased a furniture restoration company in Austin. But market trends led them elsewhere, and what started out as a side business blossomed into Alexander Marchant—Austin’s and San Antonio’s premier architectural, plumbing and fixture resource. Showrooms in both cities offer sought-after brands such as Bronzes de France, Frank Allart, Halliday + Baillie, Serie Rare and Formani. Alexander Marchant is also the exclusive Texas rep for Kreoo, the Italian furnishings brand renowned for bold marble products as well as plumbing for the bath, and for Boffi, the Italian bath and hardware company famous for its minimal, state-of-the-art style. 1114 W. Fifth St., Ste. A, Austin, 512.462.1444; 4335 McCullough Ave., Olmos Park, 210.320.2093

Best Tile Showroom
La Nova

La Nova’s motto, “In with the new,” was especially fitting last October when the Texas tile importer, which recently expanded its reach to the Dallas market, debuted a shiny new showroom five minutes from downtown Houston. Working with a dream team of Houston design pros—including Content Architecture, RIMA Projects and Putterman Scharck & Associates—owner Erick Calderon created an interactive space that showcases the company’s European-inspired tiles in innovative new ways. In addition to spacious design pods that offer interior designers and architects room to mix and match tile samples with decorative accents and other finishes, the showroom features specially designed racks that allow horizontal displays of large-format floor tiles, helping clients visualize how the surface will look in a space. A dedicated area for special events and a kegerator with Texas beers on tap round out the amenities at La Nova’s sleek new digs. To the trade, 2325 Fannin St., Houston, 713.796.9050

Best Art Gallery
Laura Rathe Fine Art 

With three revered Texas art galleries bearing her name, Laura Rathe attributes her predilection for fine art to her parents, who collect art and raised her “with the notion that taking risks and having dreams was an expectation.” She continues to seek new creative talent while showcasing a variety of artists, from German installation artist Michael Laube to porcelain artist Lucrecia Waggoner. “The art world has been far too intimidating in the past when in fact it should be open to all, and a conduit between the artists and the collector,” says Rathe, who has been in the art world for almost two decades. At the Houston Colquitt Street location, catch the gallery’s first show of the year, which runs through Feb. 18 and showcases contemporary Chinese artist Zhuang Hong Yi and California-based Cassandria Blackmore, a reverse-style painter. 1130 Dragon St., Ste. 130, Dallas, 214.761.2000; 2707 Colquitt St., Houston, 713.527.7700; 1700 Post Oak Blvd., 1 BLVD Place, Houston, 713.527.7700

Best of Design: Best in Biz
Best of Design: At Home
Best of Design: Products & Pieces