Friends Bring Love of Art, Fashion, Design to Ancient Game of Mahjong

Four friends from Preston Hollow and the Park Cities gathered to play mahjong on a new automatic table one day in September 2023. They loved the automation — the plain green mat on the tabletop, not so much.

“We thought, how can we make this more us? Because we love the game,” Ally Abbasi said. 

The short life of the table ended that day. The friends, who had already struggled with the table’s assembly due to a lack of instructions, took it apart trying to figure out how the table functioned and whether they could switch out the unsightly green top.

Eight months later, Park Cities residents Sheri Wood and Abbasi, and Preston Hollow residents Caren Krumerman and Krista Shea, have managed to build something that’s much more them. 

They’ve combined their diverse professional backgrounds with their mutual love for art, fashion, and design to create their own business selling unique automatic tables, game mats, mahjong tiles, and accessories with bold, beautiful designs.

As Bespoke Mahjong, the four have already shipped their automatic tables nationally from California to Arkansas. Their diverse group of customers even almost included one fraternity brother who wanted to buy a table for his frat house. (Teach everyone to play first, Shea told him, and then we can talk about a table with your fraternity logo.)

On May 8, the four officially opened Bespoke House of Mahjong in Carrollton, a place where players and potential players can gather to learn or enjoy the game. House of Mahjong offers classes, hosts private parties, and, beginning in June, will offer open play for $10 a player. 

“We want to make it a fun place for people to come, and meet, and make friends, and learn, and just experience all the fun getting to know each other,” Krumerman said.

Near the entrance to House of Mahjong, the friends have hung a copy of their first tabletop design, a square with each of their avatars as imagined by Krumerman. “She made this without our consent,” Abbasi said. “And she told me that I have pink hair!”

Another wall in the House is bright pink with leopards, a tribute to the friends’ mutual love of animal print. Nearby is a table Abbasi described as “a piece of art” made from pink leather, glass, and steel. A few feet away is a wooden table with a floral design and leather base. Both those tables have matching toppers so that they can continue to decorate a space once a game is over. 

“They’re not just mahjong tables,” Abbasi said. “They’re also a table you can use to eat, to play chess, to do whatever you want.” 

For those short on space, other tables fold up and can be rolled away after a game. All the tables are automatic, a feature that Abbasi said gives players a chance to play four times as many games. 

Bespoke will custom design tables in colors to match interior designs, and also offers uniquely designed machine-washable mahjong mats for those who aren’t ready for a table yet.

“Women like to be together. Families like to be together,” Krumerman said. “And this is just a way to bring people together, and we love that.”

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