Soul Searching

It all started with a vacation to India. A motorcycle trip through the Himalayas. Going off the beaten path. Making a pit stop at an architectural salvage spot in Rajasthan and dipping into an exotic, hospitable, soul-satisfying culture; wanting to experience it, and savor it, but more importantly, share it.

“I just fell in love with the textures, the food, the colors, the people,” says Bass & Bennett Trading Co. owner Matt Bass. “And I wanted to figure out a way to share it with people here. Bass & Bennett is the embodiment of that vision.”

It started out as an idea to pick a few favorite pieces and bring them home. Over time and multiple return trips, a few pieces became one fully loaded shipping container after another, which then evolved into a sprawling shop at Rosela Farm in Coraopolis, meticulously curated with authentic, handcrafted home furnishings and décor, all thoughtfully repurposed and reclaimed.

“You feel connected to the people that preserve these items,” says his wife and business partner, Michele. “There’s a history. There’s a story behind every piece and there’s a sense of warmth that you don’t get from manufactured things. There’s a soul to it. The wear, the patina… it all tells a story.”

That story has also been unfolding in their contemporary Sewickley Heights home. Natural light from floor to ceiling windows dances across the open space, where earthy metals and naturally weathered wood is spiked with punchy, hand-embroidered silk and cotton Kantha textiles that were once worn as saris and have been repurposed into throws, table coverings, and cushions.

“It’s really about having these pieces complement what you already own. Most people don’t have households of globally purchased items,” says Michele. “We can work with what you already have and add that special piece to give your space a hit of extra interest. We love to do that. Even in this house. It has a modern aesthetic, but we’ve added warmth. It just shows that you can have a linear space and add things that bring color, life, depth, and texture. What you see here is a living diary of our lives.”

It’s also a testimony to the hunt. “You pull that thread and try to trace each piece back to the origins,” says Matt.  It’s finding intricate, hand-carved blocks used for printing textiles, identifying the village they originated from, and paying a visit on the next trip. It’s repurposing bamboo into decorative ladders, intricately carved grinder tables into ottomans, and treating centuries-old, 20-foot tall solid teakwood doors that were salvaged from sprawling havelis as art. Because they deserve it.

“None of these pieces are manufactured,” he adds. “All are made by hand from wood that can be over 100 years old. You can see the wear marks from people having used each piece for specific purposes. They have incredible value, history, and culture. We are preserving all of that, giving them new life in a new form in a new way.”


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