Shane Robuck speaks Italian so well that he is often mistaken for a native when wandering the booths of the Parma antiques fair. “I learned to speak Italian from the Scuola di Vita, or what translates as the School of Life,” says Robuck, who, along with co-owner Kristen Walls, operates Robuck, an Atlanta emporium for the finest Continental antiques, most dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Robuck seems to have graduated with other “degrees”, too, from that particular school, for he has become so attuned to the provenance of antiques during his decades in the business, particularly items made in Italy, that he can accurately guess much about their authenticity. “That’s the most fun aspect of what I do. I can look at a piece of furniture at some booth or small shop in Italy and reasonably tell whether it came from Liguria or Venezia or the Piemonte by its craftsmanship and details, when dealers in New Orleans, in particular, especially the shops lining Magazine Street. “I loved looking at the French furniture and accessories,” he says, “but when I found something Italian, I’d jump on it. Those pieces from Italy were rarer and, so, finding them became more exciting.”
He credits Walls as being the guiding force who devised a business plan that melded their two independent businesses in Atlanta into one that has now been in operation since 1999. So attuned are they both to what they want in their store that, as she says, “We handpick, curate, and collect whatever stands out to us.” Walls and Robuck believe, too, that every item they carry should be either something they would want to live with in their respective homes or that would have a singular presence in someone else’s home. “One designer who has been a big inspiration for us is Darryl Carter,” says Walls, referring to the Washington, D.C. interior designer (who has been featured in numerous issues of MILIEU). “Darryl’s is basically a neutral palette against which he positions wonderful pieces that stand out. That’s how we buy everything we have at Robuck.”
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WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MALI AZIMA
This story appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of MILIEU.