A mother and son team up to bring a little of Europe and a lot of gusto to West Palm Beach.
By Jesse Bratter
The exterior is unassuming. The converted warehouse on Georgia Avenue with its garage-door entrance might not catch the attention of design enthusiasts when they first pass by. But a closer look and the secondary custom steel-and-glass ingress starts to hint that the newly opened Casa Gusto is a formidable addition to its nearby neighbors on Antique Row, save for the serious buyer who visits the shop with intention.
“The area is scattered with design workrooms, stone suppliers, glass companies, iron workshops and other antique warehouses,” says Charles Peed, who co-owns the shop with his design maven mother, Cris Briger.
Much like the shop’s collection, “the neighborhood has a sense of discovery and is inviting in atmosphere and anticipation,” says Briger.
Immediately upon entering, it’s clear that Casa Gusto lives up to its name—down to the lively soundtrack of music likely to be resonating throughout the shop.
A stroll through the expansive, open loftlike space will take guests on a journey past olive trees and hanging chandeliers; furnishings; and objects ranging from 13-foot-long French château benches from the 19th century to 18thcentury consoles from a chapel in Italy to a midcentury-modern daybed by Paolo Buffa that Briger and Peed had reupholstered in rich green velvet. If you’re not careful, you
might think you were transported to an antique buying trip in the Belgian countryside.
The shop also represents reproduction Talavera pottery, paintings by Catharine Warren, beaded coral accessories, papier-mache forms and a line of glazed ceramics from Europe. But a favorite, if you ask Briger, is “a Chinese Chippendale console from Mexico,” she says. “To me, it represents gorgeous craftsmanship and the history of furniture, even in remote places from the 18th and 19th centuries. I love the embracement of different styles and their interpretations depending on where they are made. The Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibits three examples of the same style of chair from Boston, Philadelphia and New York—and the differences are astounding. So the Mexican Chippendale is overthe-moon for me.”
Briger and Peed are typically drawn to the same piece, so it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Briger spent much of her career as a partner in her furniture and accessories manufacturing firm, Briger Design, with her husband, Paul, whom she shared a passion for traveling and living with antiques and decorative objects.
Naturally, they took their son to every flea market and museum they could find, so Peed grew up surrounded by furnishings and art. After he explored a career in the culinary field, and then design and real estate, Peed joined forces with Briger to open Casa Gusto so they could design interiors together and find a home for their discoveries. “We could say where we were in the case of every piece bought,” says Peed, “and we would like the person purchasing from our space to have the same memory and continue the story of where it came from.”