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Frieze may be tiny -- as in perhaps 600 square feet -- but what it lacks in space it more than makes up for in atmosphere. Stepping into this combination gallery/home furnishings shop in the eastern reaches of Fort Lauderdale's Gateway area is a multisensory experience. The subtle fragrance that hangs in the air comes not from incense but from potpourris made of little, scented, decorative rocks. A warm glow radiates from the exquisite lamps that dot the room like sculptures, and the soft music is accented by the low gurgle of several fountains. For a real aural treat, bask in the lingering aftertones of the huge Japanese wind chimes. Owner Robert Ricard opened this serene space about two years ago, taking its name from a specialized architectural term he thought conveyed the shop's focus on objects that work as both art and décor. Artbeat wonders whether the term does the place justice. Where else might you find thin, elegant slabs of Vermont slate that double as placemats, trivets, and coasters? Or trays, bowls, and storage bins made from water hyacinths? The well-traveled Ricard traffics mostly in hand-crafted items from the Pacific Rim, supplemented by pieces from India, Africa, and elsewhere. (Those wind chimes, for instance, are tuned to a Japanese scale but actually made by a Texas-based artist.) Ricard says he's drawn to an Asian aesthetic that emphasizes such basics as fire, water, wood, metal, and stone. There's a small but impressive selection of antique Chinese furniture as well as such purely decorative items as "mollusktrees" (eroded trunks of trees salvaged from areas that have been flooded), Burmese bible panels (hand-pressed palm leaves with Buddhist calligraphy), and matted color photos taken in Africa and Thailand by local photographer Gary Schwartz. Give yourself plenty of time to take in Frieze's amazing variety. (Frieze is at 1912 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-523-7224.) -- Michael Mills

 
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