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My Favorite Room: Mark Sage

Inspiration abounds in the Atlanta headquarters of BoBo Intriguing Objects design guru Mark Sage

photo: Emily Followill

Mark Sage’s office doesn’t exactly look like a place of serious business. But don’t let the antique motorbikes, the stack of tobacco leaves, or the occasional sounds of a billiards game fool you. As the co-owner of BoBo Intriguing Objects, an Atlanta design firm specializing in antique reproductions, Sage makes his living finding cool stuff.

He has spent the last twenty years on the hunt for inspiration, traveling to more than fifty countries in search of one-of-a-kind items. His office—cluttered with curios brought home from his travels—operates as both a laboratory and a showroom for his designs.

“When friends or customers come in and they say one of the antiques is cool, I know I’ve got a market for a reproduction,” Sage says. The double-tufted lounger—which he created with business partner Rudi Nijssen for Restoration Hardware—was inspired by a rare twenties-era French chair that was tufted on the front and the back. The wine sphere pendant lights and wooden wine barrel chandeliers that float from the ceiling were built with vessels and barrels sourced from Italy and the South of France.

Some pieces he keeps around merely as mementos from his trips. He discovered the motorcycle—a 1952 Norton ES2—hidden underneath a drop cloth on a farm in Argentina. It’s one of five antique bikes he stows near the door for the occasional spin around the neighborhood. He has a particular fondness for circus paraphernalia—he found the portrait of a strong-man performer (on his shelf at far left) at a flea market in Texas. But it’s his collection of religious santos that he is most proud of.

“I revisited one church in France multiple times over a period of three years to convince them to sell me the big one,” Sage says. “I love it because it’s unexpected—a six-foot statue on top of my desk, presiding over the room.”

Other items are more subtle, like the mud-stained round metal tabletop nestled behind a stuffed fox on the shelf. “I look for things with a perfect patina, something that has steeped in its own juices and shows the passage of time.”

As enthralled by their stories as he is by their design, Sage is at home among the objects of others’ pasts. “Both of my parents were only children,” he says, “so I don’t have a strong personal family history. That’s why I’m fascinated by a two-hundred-year-old chair.”