OLD SAYBROOK — If you want to know where Akil Tanriguden has traveled in the world, just walk through his shop, Re-Unique Art and Antique Center.
At the new Boston Post Road location, the store is a treasure trove of found objects that Tanriguden has collected over years of globetrotting for both work and pleasure.
Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Tanriguden moved to the United States with his wife Cindy Usluca seven-years ago after retiring from their careers in business and law. However, it wasn’t long after their move before Usluca was offered a job as a paralegal, and she turned to her husband and asked, “What about you? I want you to do something!”
In that moment, Tanriguden decided that it was the right time to share his one-of-a-kind collection of unusual finds from all corners of the globe. “Everything was in storage that I had collected over the years. Lots of bits and pieces wherever I traveled...Europe, the Far East.” he said. Three years ago Tanriguden opened his shop, and just recently moved to its current space.
The layout of Re-Unique is sort of like a map of the world, with Italy being the first stop. Tanriguden pointed to a bell topped by a decorative angel with outspread wings hanging on the wall.
“This is the oldest piece I have dated 1740. I found it in Rome at a Vatican shop. It was from an orphan school with the Latin inscription, ‘If you touch me, you can hear me.’”
Ornate mirrors and paintings from Florence, brightly colored Capodimonte (Italian porcelain) figures, and an 1800s hand-carved horse tricycle are part of the eclectic mix to browse.
If you are looking for furniture or decorative accents from Asia, you’ll find painted wood chests, silk screens with vivid Far Eastern motifs and sculpted sea animals, bronze elephants from India, and gold and red Chinese Foo dog statues.
Tanriguden naturally carries treasures from his home country of Turkey.
“The cushions on these couches are typical of Turkish design from Anatolia. They are handmade embroidered rug cushions and bamboo on the inside so the shape of the couch does not change. It’s a very old style from the mid-18th century that is still seen today in villages.”
The back of the shop is reserved as an art gallery currently featuring works by East Haddam/Key West resident Ineke Dorjee deRaad and one time Old Lyme resident Mary Connors whose paintings depict idyllic scenes of the town.
Showcasing all of Tanriguden’s unique finds is the special job of his wife Cindy who enjoys her role in designing the space and displays
“I absolutely love decorating the store. I created four separate and distinct design flavors: the Shoreline, the Asian/Far Eastern, the European Classic and the Moroccan.”
She also delights in meeting people who come in the store.
“It has been fun meeting people from all over the country leading to delightful conversations. The best is having them come back to visit our store again and becoming friends.”
With such a diverse mix of inventory, Tanriguden said that he is always looking for new pieces through his personal contacts, auctions and large exhibitions.
“An item has to be really unique and eclectic. When I see something I love, I buy it.” In addition to searching for one-of-a-kind objects for the shop, he will track down that special piece for a customer, too.
For Tanriguden, traveling the world and bringing a piece of each locale home is a labor of love.
“Old objects always have a story, always something behind them. I investigate and learn. I love that!”
Re-Unique Art and Antique Center, 891 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook 860-388-1999.