by Edmund Morris
Pulitzer Prize-winning author (and dearly missed friend of the Modern Shop)
The low, pedimented shape of George Champion's shop on Main Street in Woodbury, CT harmonizes with many other classical facades in that lovely old town. But if visitors are surprised to find the little building filled with exquisite modern furniture, nobody suspects - until escorted across the yard by the genial Mr. Champion - that his massive, turn-of-the-century mansion next door houses an even more lavish display: room after room, floor after floor of dazzling design. The cornucopia keeps changing as buyers buy and Mr. Champion replaces, exercising his virtuoso ability to juxtapose, mix, and match objects whose only common quality (aside from modernity) is their pristine condition. As you step into the main room, you may see, gleaming in the bay window to your left, a magnificent, Ferrari-red Vespa 150 scooter from 1964 or a Ducati 996 motorcycle with Italian tricolor panels. Ahead, between the elegant curvature of an Eames recliner and a pony-print Memphis sidetable (found, with original label intact, in Monaco), the blue "eyes" of an array of 1960s McIntosh amplifiers bid you a stereoscopic come-hither. Beyond and upstairs, more and more masterpieces call out to be seen, sat in, or stroked: from the enormous, multiangular "Rotor" table of Piero Lissoni (2008) to a custom sofa for Ada Louise Huxtable, and a Jazz Age beret by Elsa Schiaparelli. Take the virtual tour on this website -- but don't expect it to be half as prodigal as the real thing, or half as informative as George Champion himself.