Global style, tea, and textile at Rivendell

Rivendell Entrance
Source: Ivan Chan. The entrance to Rivendell, with its sign obscured by grapevines.

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.

A delightful collection of Asian teas.
Source: Ivan Chan. A delightful collection of teas and herbs.

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.

Shelves of teaware from China and Japan.
Source: Ivan Chan. A fine selection of teaware and cakes of tea from China and Japan.

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.

Antique kilims and other textiles are reincarnated into gorgeous pillows.
Source: Ivan Chan. Pat gives new life to antique kilims and other textiles by reincarnating them into pillows.

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.

Beads from various cultures.
Source: Ivan Chan. Beads from various cultures.

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.

Lovely teaware.
Source: Ivan Chan

 

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.

Rivendell is located at 1001 Center Street, Santa Cruz, California 95060.

Featured image source: Ivan Chan

5 Comments

    1. It is indeed charming! I’ve been going for roughly twenty years. I miss the vintage, industrial, iron works building–but it was definitely a drafty place with similarly “vintage” wiring and plumbing. I think those places may be for the young, because after awhile, you just want things to work and to focus on what you want to focus on! Not that I’d ever give up the Millennium Falcon or Serenity, which most repurposed industrial places remind me of.

  1. I do miss Rivendell. They had a shop in Felton for awhile, and for that I was most grateful, but then they didn’t–not sure if they gave it up before or after a fire that left the building roofless for years; it was still roofless when I moved out of SLV this past summer. Just the textiles and rugs…could make my teeth ache with desire…as always, Ivan, I am grateful for your curation of memories and images.

    1. Hello Maria! Thanks for your comment and sharing your memories. How long ago did they have this store in Felton? I don’t think I plumbed that part of Pat’s story when I interviewed her, but I was probably more swept up with her finding the location in Squid Row Alley where I first met her 20-odd years ago. Pat has clients from all over the world who visit her shop as part of their trip to Santa Cruz, so if you ever come back to town, let’s make a trip together!

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