Asierica: East Meets West

Shop Talk by Kitty Kaufman

Beyond Harvard Square along the north end of Mass Avenue in Cambridge where the street widens out and parking is easy, small specialty shops cater to a discerning audience. Asierica, aptly named for its winning marriage of chic gifts from Asian and domestic makers, has set its sights on attracting destination-bound shoppers with an eye for the unusual.

Grackle glaze sushi sets with artful wooden chopsticks sit beside teapot crockery. Asakusa notebooks show off the ancient Chinese art of bookbinding with woven cotton bamboo leaves. Books on feng shui stacked near water fountains bubbling beneath whirling wooden wind spinners and gently scented candles complete the Asian feeling.

For the modernist not afraid of color there's a Groove glossy black hydraulic equipped table for two with fire engine red bar stools. Crafty shoppers will go for whirling solar-powered wire figures and funky salad bowl sets with '50s accents of turquoise and purple. Find Gilitzer German porcelain and Eastern Design handmade striped glassware. For the ultimate in beach glassware there are sets of six martini or Champagne glasses with twelve-inch long rounded stems that sit upright in the sand.

Stocking stuffers will go for French Pre de Provence soaps in lavender and verbena; Italian hand-cut soaps with names like milk, lettuce, and carrot; small picture frames, tiny humidifiers, and neatly bundled chopsticks. You can't fry eggs in Asierica's hand-crafted copper frying pan whose bottom sports a clock. But you can hang your hat on a wall-mounted coat rack complete with pink flamingos.

Owners Hong Shen and Stanley Yu, combining the best of eastern and western creativity, have created a haven. As Yu says, "For any retailer, it's hard to find things that are really interesting. My goal is to create a store with things that appeal not only to the eye but also to the mind. And most of the things we sell are useful."

© December 10, 2003 for The City Shopper
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