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Conte Design Group brings imagination to Ligonier

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:06 p.m.
Rebecca Ridinger | for the Ligonier Echo
The Conte Design team stands in front of the new shop after the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce's ribbon-cutting ceremony last Wednesday. From left are Sonja Stevens, owners George and Olive Conte, daughter Elizabeth Fuchs, Sally Watt and Jeff Brugh; Second row: Lynn Rost and Dave Wensel.
Rebecca Ridinger | for the Ligonier Echo
Owners Olive (left) and George Conte (right) talk with friend, June Penta, of Greensburg . Penta came to the opening of the couple's design shop Wednesday in Ligonier.

You may have noticed the festive shop window and the humorous ‘Not Yet' sign posted on the bright red doorway of the new Conte Design building located at 113 E. Main St.; the decorative shop isn't hard to spot. ‘Not Yet' has officially changed to ‘Welcome In,' as the team, along with family, friends and those curious, celebrated the ribbon cutting last week.

Conte Design, which is owned by George and Olive Conte, is a group that plans and creates interior spaces for larger-scale projects. The group has a vast repertoire of past and present endeavors, with a resume that spans across the country and includes upscale hotels, Oglebay Resort in West Virginia and the Dulles Mall in Virginia. Locally, the team has designed much of the decor at Seven Springs ski resort, including the spa and hotel.

Now, the consulting firm has made Ligonier their official home. The Conte's, who reside in Ligonier, decided to move the company headquarters here after having been in the Greensburg area for more than 30 years.

“We always talked about how nice it would be to mingle with locals; to step outside and walk to the coffee shop or a restaurant,” George Conte explained. “Everyone in this town has been extremely receptive; the people are wonderful.”

The couple, who bought the building in August of last year, immediately set to task revamping the entire space, which was once an antique shop. They did a complete overhaul, recreating the entire building. The personalized finished product has now bloomed into a retail, work, office and showroom space that is serene, bright and pristine.

All of the company's projects are drafted and crafted on the shop's first floor by the Contes and their dedicated employees, many of whom are from the local area and have been with Conte Design for more than 15 years. The store also has a second level, which the Conte's are still deciding on how to use.

“It might become a gallery of sorts,” said George Conti. “We're still figuring it out.”

The retail space offers a spectrum of unique and unparalleled items, such as floating lanterns, bendable trivets for hot pans, leather wine bags and original artworks. Glassware from Italy and Slovakia, German stained-steel pieces, Italian porcelain, French linen and sculptures from around the globe lend an international flair while products made here in the USA, such as the all-recycled Adirondack chairs, contribute to domestic manufacturing.

When choosing purchase products, the Contes familiarized themselves with what neighboring shops were already offering so that they could showcase things exclusive and unique, without creating any competition.

“We didn't want to take away from anyone else,” he said.

Prior to the recent opening, the store space had not gone unnoticed. “A lot of people have been anxious to get over here and see what we're doing,” George Conte said.

That generated curiosity recently led to the couple's first sale. The purchase? A solid rubber door wedge from German company Blomus. “Old neighbors stopped by,” the couple chuckled. “They asked to have it saved. So that was our first sale.”

Though the process and progress of renovating the building while simultaneously continuing on with clients and business has made for a busy time, the Conte's are ready to switch some of that energy onto a few things other than design. “I want to stand outside and talk to people,” Mr. Conte laughed. “Make it less intense and more social; enjoy the Ligonier area and the people in the community.”

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 10-5.

For more informaiton, go to georgecontedesign.com. or call 724-238-4230.

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