In the next three months, Keith Johnson plans to visit England, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Scotland, Morocco, Laos, Thailand and Australia.
As the buyer-at-large for Anthropologie - and the Man in the Sundance Channel's new "Man Shops Globe," premiering Wednesday - Johnson purchases vintage items, antiques and one-of-a-kind pieces, and commissions pieces from artists and craftsmen around the world. The items end up in Anthropologie stores or serve as inspiration for the company's design team.
We caught up with Johnson between shopping excursions.
When you are on the road, where do you find items? Dealers? Local artists?
The advantage of going to places all the time is you really establish a network of people. You find people that you love what they do, and you love the things they find. If you find someone who has found one or two good things, chances are if you go back to them, they've found more.
Where can people find these sorts of items, without traveling to the far reaches of the world? Do you go to your local Chinatown and poke around?
There's all sorts of things that you can find. The trouble when you do buy things in the States ... you're not immersed in the culture. I think you bring something that's unique to you on a shopping trip, and you see things that perhaps others didn't see. There's nothing to replace travel, but sure, I go to every market. I'm not a snob about it.
Aside from watching the show, what can people do to educate themselves on what is out there?
For me, obviously my reference, travel is a great privilege. But you can go a long way in the museums, and if you find people, you respect their stores and their eyes, you can really educate yourself. It's just being open and curious. I know people with the most extraordinary taste who've never left (their area).
You can't overrate curiosity.
I have traveled with people who have taken in so much, and then I've been with people who've been to a place a dozen times but they just don't get it, they just don't see it. I love to go with people who are like a sponge. It's so refreshing for me because I can get jaded about these things.
What is your favorite piece at home?
I happen to be home right now. I'm looking at a chair I bought at a design fair in London. The guy designed it on a computer, and it's based on a Queen Anne chair. It's hundreds of slices of plywood, and he put it all together in a very uneven pattern. I had to have it, and it's definitely one of my favorite things. It's an antique form re-created on a computer and made in a very contemporary way. It's everything I admire rolled into one. It's very cool.