It may take a little advance work to gain admission to the Geoffrey Diner Gallery north of Dupont Circle, but if you're interested in quality, turn-of-the-century decorative arts, the effort will be worthwhile.
Diner specializes in British and American Arts and Crafts furniture and Tiffany Studios lamps and objects, which he shows to visitors who arrive "by appointment or by chance" at his handsome 1896 town house.
At any time, you might find a Frank Lloyd Wright table, a mix of Stickley or Roycroft furniture, and some Liberty pewter and silver for sale at the gallery. Diner likes to say, however, that his prices "are not for the timid." They range from $1,500 for a Liberty piece to $200,000 for a Tiffany lamp or rare piece of furniture.
Many of his sales result from the networking he does at art and antique fairs around the country rather than in the Washington area, says Diner. But he welcomes any new clients "with taste."
Diner, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and went to college in California, has been operating out of his current space, which doubles as his home, since 1987. He possesses a casual candor as he shows off the two lower floors that make up the light-filled gallery. Built-in shelves on one wall are packed with books, suggesting he does his homework.
The Arts and Crafts movement began in Britain in the late 19th century, with John Ruskin and William Morris as its "philosophical gurus," Diner explains. These designers rebelled against busy Victorian ornamentation and the dehumanization of the Industrial Revolution. American Arts and Crafts offshoots adopted an even more rectilinear style. Production peaked about 1910 before sales began to slump due to changing aesthetics and "cheap imitations," he says.
-- C.J. Mills