Rivendell, if you’re at all familiar with The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, was a place of rest, recuperation, and protection founded by the High Elves who valued beauty and the arts. In looking for a name and location for her shop back in 1992, proprietor Pat Moore found the hidden street, Squid Row Alley, in Santa Cruz, California, and saw the space between the 150-year-old repurposed Enterprise Iron Works building and Santa Cruz Art Center as the split valley for which Rivendell was named.
Originally in the Enterprise Iron Works building, Rivendell moved in 2011 across the alley’s divide into Santa Cruz Art Center, taking up a coveted corner location made more visible by Pat and her associate’s addition of arbors, trailing grapevines, sculpture, and a thriving garden complete with a little table for tea tastings.
Although the new location doesn’t have the history of the older neighbor (which made pickaxes and shovels for miners during the Gold Rush), it’s still charming with interesting architectural features like brick walls, wide windows, and an almost labyrinthine layout that enhances the feeling of discovery when browsing.
Rivendell also offers Whole Leaf Tea’s selection of teas, some of which are from plants that are “over a thousand years old,” according to Pat. The mix of decorative and practical objects, in this cabinet with exposed shelves for easy perusing, creates a beautiful and engaging display that may be used in your own home or shop to show off your collections.
Whole Leaf Tea is the business venture of her associate, Wayne Brennan, who has helped Pat with Rivendell since its founding over 20 years ago. He also assists in the design and decoration of the shop, changing it up every few weeks so that it is almost never the same place twice when I have visited, although the eclectic spirit remains the same.
Below, notice the lovely way he has displayed the teaware, grouping most of the iconic blue and white ceramics together, while keeping the dark wood utensils and clay teapots (probably of Yixing origin) on their own shelves. Using color, use, or other common feature among the objects you are displaying helps to establish an order that is calming and pleasing for the observer. Notice also the rhythm of the shapes, how they repeat and flow on each shelf like notes on a music sheet.
Pat’s passion is for textiles, and she trades with travelers, artisans, and tradespeople alike. She strives for the unique and handmade, staying as close to the creator of the item as possible. I imagine, like the soul she has imbued Rivendell with, she seeks the same heart placed within each item she curates in her mystical shop.
When visiting, be sure to check out all the treasures she’s gleaned from her trading partners, including etchings, folding screens, Japanese kimonos, beads from around the world, and more.
When you visit, be prepared for a bit of adventure. You’ll find it’s a fascinating space full of wonderful objets d’art, vibrant colors, and luxurious fabrics that constantly change; a place where you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea while sharing stories of travel and to-be-seen marvels of the world.
Rivendell is like its namesake: a refuge for the traveler, both armchair and inveterate. Who knows what you will find there, but for sure you will find beauty.
Featured image source: Ivan Chan