My Material Life

Window Dressing

In the early 2000s, I worked as a design assistant at Martino’s Interiors on Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos. Having spent the previous eleven years managing and providing various programs at a nonprofit organization specializing in career development, you could say this was an unexpected move. What’s even more surprising is that it was precipitated by two feral cats named Mary and Rhoda, but that’s another story. I had a good time at Martino’s. The owner, Ron Martino, is one of the most gracious and generous men you could ever meet. And in addition to the usual design assistant duties of drafting plans and elevations, working with sales reps, dusting furniture, etc., I was able to get involved in advertising and display – yes, even window dressing! You see window dressing is my fantasy job. Such a neglected art. Ron had these giant canvases made and we’d ask the guys in the warehouse to paint them various colors depending on what was displayed and they just made everything in them pop – they were stunning! It’s funny, about the only cool window displays I see any more are at an optometrist’s shop in Los Altos and those are designed by a patient. Anyway, Ron moved his shop and his interior designers to a gorgeous showroom on University Avenue a few years back and now he’s decided to find a new, smaller space which means he must sell his inventory of beautiful furnishings and that’s why I’m telling you all this now.

Martino Interiors (as it’s now known) is having a moving sale. Today I purchased an antique Korean four-panel screen – with what looks to be a snowed-in village at the foot of a mountain scene – for $50. It has some damage, but still – $50! I think it will be perfect on the wall above my living room couch or sofa as designers prefer to call couches. When I get the courage to actually hang it on the wall, I just might post a photo here because it probably sounds a bit odd the way I’ve described it. Do visit the showroom and take your time poking around because you never know what you might find. Ron is a bit of a “man shops globe” himself and in addition to fine furniture from makers such as Baker, you’ll find treasures from his travels to Asia and Italy. Plus an original vision of beauty that is becoming harder and harder to find.

Martino Interiors, 630 University Avenue, Los Gatos, Open Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm, 408-354-9111,

If you are interested in window display, here are some books I can recommend:
The American Store Window by Leonard S. Marcus
Confessions of a Window Dresser by Simon Doonan
The Invention of Chic, Therese Bonney and Paris Moderne by Lisa Schlansker Kolosek
A Store to Remember by James Thomas Mullane (the story of I. Magnin & Co., very enjoyable)






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