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Friday, September 21, 2007

boston design guide!

i've wanted to put together a boston design guide for some time. it's one of the cities readers request guides for most often but sadly i always end up forgetting to take my camera around with me when we visit ac's family outside of the city. thankfully, while chatting with the lovely elisabeth of black pearl press she offered to help me out, as she's an actual local. her finds (with a few of my personal favorites added in) are now in guide form (arranged by neighborhood) and perfect for anyone heading up to boston on weekend vacations or over the holiday. elisabeth also included some great places to eat while you're shopping so click here to read the full guide. happy boston shopping!


  • Bliss: Jonathan Adler’s ceramics are mixed with Bernardaud china, Chilewich placemats, and other modern accessories for home and table. `Gift registry available.
  • Comptoir de Famille: French country tableware, linens, accessories and simple furniture styled after antiques.
  • Waterworks: Simple bath furnishings, towels and shower curtains, sinks and hardware.
  • Lavender Home: A beautiful little shop that carries European country antiques, soft linens, French soaps, and lavender honeys and jams. Gift registry available.
  • Kitchen Arts: This little shop is filled to the brim with everything a home cook could possibly need – a huge selection of quality knives, cookware, glass canisters and pepper mills, to name a few.
  • Paper Source: Fantastic source for all things paper. Cards, crafting, you name it.
  • Winston Flowers: Boston’s favorite florist for lush, modern arrangements of exceptional quality.
  • Mitchell Gold: The place for well-made, tailored upholstered furniture and other basics, plus lamps and pillows. Great deals can be found during their sample sales.
  • PLACES TO EAT: Parish Café (361 Boylston Street); Bar Lola (160 Commonwealth Avenue)
  • IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware

  • Period Furniture Hardware: The place to find brass drawer pulls, door knockers, and lighting, as well as whimsical weathervanes.
  • E.R. Butler: Exquisite porcelain from Hella Jongerius and Ted Muehling takes the stage alongside period hinges and door pulls, lanterns, votives and pitchers.
  • Good: Exquisitely curated selection of gifts for home, including John Derian decoupage, delicate jewelry and mint condition vintage finds. Gift registry available.
  • Linens on the Hill: Bed, bath and table linens from Sferra, Matouk and Yves Delorme, as well as gifts for baby.
  • Koo de Kir: A sophisticated collection of furniture, gifts and home accessories, often in neutral, earthy tones, mixed with Sarah Cihat and Tord Boontje dishware, screenprints and other whimsical gifts. Gift registry available.
  • Rouvalis Flowers: Tucked just a block away from Charles Street, Rouvalis sells potted orchids, hydrangeas and the like, in beautiful moss, terracotta and ceramic planters.
  • Rugg Road Paper Company: locally-owned paper and craft supply store.
  • Baranzelli Silk Surplus: A huge selection of velvet, cotton, crewel and silk fabrics can be purchased by the yard in this showroom below street level. Custom upholstery service as well.
  • PLACES TO EAT: Café Vanille (70 Charles Street); Paramount (44 Charles Street); Upper Crust (20 Charles Street)

  • Hudson: A sense of laid back sophistication is found in this boutique that mixes classic New England with California casual. Oly furniture, re-upholstered vintage armchairs and ceramic gourd lamps are mixed with feedsack pillows, Dash and Albert rugs and John Robshaw bedding collections. Gift registry available.
  • Urban Living: Taking over where Fresh Eggs left off, this space at the edge of the South End acts as both gallery and boutique, with an eclectic mix of tableware, furniture and textiles.
  • Urban Living Studio: 58 Clarendon Street
  • Lekker Home: Simplicity reigns here, with tableware from Heath Ceramics, white porcelain vases and simple wood furniture. Splashes of whimsy can be found in a lasercut patio umbrella, printed drum pendants and an antler coat rack. Gift registry available.
  • Turtle: emerging urban design- mostly accessories and jewelry but fun if you love local artists.
  • Diseno: interesting selection of home goods from South America
  • Red River Trading Co.: Fine, reasonably priced selection of Asian antiques and reclaimed teak furnishings, some ornate, others brightly colored, some simple. Planters, containers, glass lanterns and the occasional abacus can also be found here.
  • Vellum Fine Paper and Gifts: local one-stop shop for beautiful cards and paper gifts
  • Michelle Willey: This airy space stocks everything from Tivoli radios to the Binth baby book, with a nice mix of table linens, teapots, garden planters and French bath products.
  • On the Side: This showroom and shop space showcases Boxx Furniture designs alongside pure, beautifully simple textiles, home objects and lighting from Simplemente Blanco
  • Voila: European antiques galore!
  • Twig: This small florist is practically overflowing onto the street with lush cut flowers for chic and colorful arrangements, as well as some potted plants.
  • Tadpole: Clothes, games and toys for kids, with a selection of Oeuf furniture and Dwell baby bedding. Gift registry available.
  • Aunt Sadies: great for gifts, can run a little candle-heavy though
  • PLACES TO EAT: South End Buttery (314 Shawmut Avenue); Picco (513 Tremont Street); Francesca’s Café (564 Tremont Street)
  • In the Neighborhood: DWR

  • Shake the Tree: An eclectic little shop where Dwell linens, Thomas Paul pillows and Orla Kiely totes share space with jewelry, candles and small home accessories.
  • Cadia Vintage: Small vintage accessories and clothing are packed from floor to ceiling in this even smaller storefront.
  • PLACES TO EAT: Antico Forno (93 Salem Street)

  • Greenward: one of my favorite spots for eco-friendly home goods. A must visit if you're into green design.
  • Nomad: Exuberant, colorful suzanis, embroidered pillows, and pierced lanterns are sourced from around the world, as are folk art and jewelry.
  • Cross: The well known pen shop also stocks a great selection of reasonably priced desk accessories, notepads, binders, books and other gifts.
  • Black Ink: Grace's favorite shop for design-based accessories for the kitchen and table. Great selection of Japanese tableware and gadgets, too.
  • Marimekko Cambridge: Marimekko's Boston outpost- it's a great way to see their bold fabrics and accessories in person.
  • Harvard Bookstore: The best book shop in town, with a friendly staff and a selection that goes far beyond the best-seller list. And it’s one of the few bookstores that can claim to carry a wide selection of art and design books.
  • Reside: Mint-condition mid-century furniture can be found here, alongside interesting glass and ceramic vessels and textiles.
  • Buckaroo's Mercantile: a modern "variety" store carrying all sorts of vintage/retro home and fashion accessories. This is a great place to shop for the person who has everything and might want something different- like vintage bookends, pillows or vases.
  • Museum of Useful Things: The name says it all: this shop is filled with all sorts of practical things you may not have realized were missing in your life.
  • Abodeon: Mid-century furniture, lighting, and vintage dishware and containers, along with games and unusual objects.
  • Brattle Square Florist: Cut flowers and potted plants can be found here, in the heart of Harvard Square. Reasonable prices and a huge selection.
  • Woolcott and Company: This shop sells everything you could possibly need to knit sweaters for the whole family.

  • Bromfield Pen Shop: Pens galore, calligraphy nibs and beautiful inks from J. Herbin – this is the only shop of its kind in Boston.
  • Windsor Button: Hidden on an otherwise drab street, this shop sells yarn, ribbon, craft supplies, and, of course, has a huge selection of buttons new and old.

  • Birch and Willow: Hand-crafted pendant, table and floor lighting woven from grapevine, seagrass and willow, to name a few.
  • Machine Age: Mid-century central: Vintage Wormley, Eames, Dunbar, Knoll and Nelson, in exquisite condition.
  • PLACES TO EAT: Flour Bakery and Cafe (15 Farnsworth Street)

  • Fire Opal: This shop can skew a little "art teacher" sometimes but I love their collection of paper goods and ceramics. Their jewelry is great, too.
  • On Centre: A new shop with housewares and gifts (Thanks guys!)
  • Axiom Gallery: experimental fine art work and installations
  • Honeyspot: gifts, stationery, jewelry and more (thanks, Dawn!)

  • Persona: Grace loves this shop for accessories from designers like Alexis Bittar (her favorite) and Alberian & Aulde
  • Grettaluxe: Grace loves this store for up-and-coming clothing designers. Pricey but pretty dresses
  • Stil: Grace loves Jovovitch-Hawk so she loves Stil. They have a great selection of clothing from indie designers (the store alone is beautiful to walk through)
  • Magpie: This store is out in Somerville but is super cute and full of home accessories. Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.
  • Modhaus: Grace has bought several pieces of furniture from tihs great warehouse store. Perfect for mid-century style dressers, table and chairs. Great ceramics, too!
  • Pod: a well edited collection of products for the home and body. Thanks, Meg!


Friday, August 03, 2007

san francisco design guide!

The D*S San Francisco Design Guide was written by Amber Clisura and supplemented by Victoria Smith (who shared her favorites on the guest blog) and D*S. The guide is broken into four quadrants and includes some Bay Area must-visits. Be sure to catch the dining recommendations as well.

Haight Street (Upper, Lower) + Inner Mission

[Accessible by: 7, 71, 22, 14, N, J, BART lines]

Haight street can be a drag (there is little to see in terms of fresh, new design) but sometimes you just have to go here so here are a few exceptions if you're in the area:
  • Kid Robot: Ok really, I’m not allowed in here. All the best and brightest in independent and Japanese toy makers can be found here and then some. Who is Gloomy Bear? What is a Dunny? You need to know. You need to go here. Amazing pieces by Japanese wunderkinds Nara and Murikami.
  • Giant Robot: Giant Robot was around before Kid Robot hit town, but it was only in magazine form. But now Giant Robot has been on the street and the two Robots have lived happily ever after. Why? Because Giant Robot has separated itself by having a really top grade gallery associated with the store. Some great work has gone through this place and I always love taking a peek no matter when I go to the Haight.
  • Doe: This is a simply beautiful store. Almost all local designers. The store owner takes the time to thoughtfully pick out everything in there. Doe is full of unique jewelry, textiles, fashion and home tschotkes. I find this a very safe place to stop for easy designed goods.
  • Rooky Ricardo’s Records: This is heaven on earth… mostly because this is where so many DJs go to get the beats they love so much. This place is a TROVE of old records and 45s… all things that Ameoba wouldn’t be bothered with because it wouldn’t make their margins. This place is top notch and worth a browse. How can you decorate without music?
A quick jaunt down the street is the Inner Mission. I qualify the inner Mission as anything from 12th street to about 24th. Once you hit 24th you’re in the outer mission. The Mission has had resurgence in the last 10 years; and by resurgence I mean an overcrowding of fixed gear riding hipsters. But besides all that they have left some great stores in their wake.
  • Candy Store: One of D*S' favorites for indie designers (clothing, home design and otherwise)
  • Needles and Pens: This little store is more vegan and punk rock than you’ll ever be. But that’s ok. They don’t chide you for it here. Stop in for great up and coming artists, zines, magazines and clothing (more of the T-shirt variety than anything.)
  • Therapy: This place has been around since the early 90s and has weathered the storm quite well. They have found their niche in selling well crafted furniture and clothing and home goods. Neither cheap nor outrageously expensive this place can fill a void of “I need something “designy” but don’t want to pay $175 for it… more like $50!” fix. A good selection of local craft as well.
  • Painted Bird: This place is too good. So good that I’m not going to write about it for fear of more people shopping there and all the great clothes going bye bye.
  • Paxton Gate: Forget the stag antlers and the nautilus shells I mean really, more coral? A taxidermy alligator head attached to the body of a badger dressed like a 19th century dandy? Watch out Domino Home!! This place is an AMAZING trove of the perfect odds and ends to decorate your home with.
  • Pirate Supply Store: I don’t know what you heard about this place – but that tutoring inner city school kids thing is all a front. Really. Dave Eggers hates kids and only loves pirates. That is where this store comes into play. Fantastic selection of independent authors and superb hardcover books like “Giraffes? Giraffes!” are perfect for any and all libraries. Pick up a pound of lard and watch out for falling mops. Make sure to stop by and say hello to King Carl.
  • Gypsy Honeymoon: This store is great. Along some similar themes of Paxton Gate but far more refined- it's as if Paxton Gate was the insane love child of two uptight Victorian Lesbians. Does this make any sense? Amazing antiques, taxidermy, some clothing, but mostly things to make your apartment look like you stepped into a Parisian Victorian apartment and not the “junior one bedroom” you have.
  • X-21 Modern: Oh jeez don’t start me in this store. It is like this store has culled all the weirdest and best designed pieces in the country and have brought them here for you. For a price, a big price, hat will send you crying in most cases. The basement holds some good deals though and is always worth checking out. This place will give you a million ideas on things for your home and color combinations you never thought of doing. A must stop.
Hungy in the Haight? Southern BBQ (think dry rub and sauce on the side) at Memphis Minnie's is good. Or keep it simple and get some Indian food at Indian Oven. Want cheap but tasty noodles? Upper Haight’s Citrus Club suits almost the pickiest eaters. Even cheaper? Escape from New York Pizza – WARNING TO NEW YORKERS – this is NOT, repeat NOT, like any pizza in New York. It’s good – just not “New York Pizza (tm patent pending)”.

Hungry in the Mission? Burritos. Everywhere. Have one. Now. Cancun, El Toro, El Farolito, Pancho Villa are some of my favorites [D*S loves La Tacqueria].

Pacific Heights/Polk Heights

[Accessible by: 1,2,3,19,21,22]

  • Timeless Treasures: Victoria says, "I always visit Timeless Treasures for vintage letters and unique gifts. This place is what I like to call 'Alphabet City' and owner Joan is a wonderful hostess."
  • Kinokuniya Book and Stationery Store: If you have never been here before you are about to be initiated. This is the Mecca for ALL things design. Inside they have Japanese and English magazines on everything from fashion to foundation pouring. You can get a book here on Sock Puppets that you would swear was designed by Jessica Helfand. I mean, sock puppets! They are more than willing to help you order subscriptions, special editions… anything you want. Don’t be shy either – the staff speaks English fluently but leaves you alone as that is Japanese custom in shopping. Be polite though as they are very big on manners. Was it the devil himself who placed this store right across the way from the bookstore? Probably. Find ALL your stationary needs here. Pens, pencils, markets, inks, calendars, books, notebooks, folders… I could go on. You can find some of the most random and awesome Japanese characters (like the dancing rice dude) or just the finest paper you can afford. I use their acid free papers as frame liners for example. Wonderful way to blow a paycheck.
  • Soko Hardware: One part hardware store, one part Japanese 5 and dime equals awesomeness. This is a strange store to be sure. The basement is full of ceramics, rice cookers, and gardening supplies. The upstairs is a true blue hardware store. You wouldn’t think these two things would be all that impressive – but together they function like the Wonder Twins. Find just the right chargers for your dining set as well as some amazing odds and ends to decorate your home.
  • Paper Source: Victoria loves' Paper Source when she's jonesing for cool stationary, beautiful cards, ribbon and wrapping papers.
  • Zinc Details: Victoria also loves Zinc Details for its super hip home accessories. She adds that they also continue to rotate local artists' work on their walls- which she always loves seeing. "It's like shopping in your favorite local art gallery".
  • Genji Aniques: What with the whole world a titter with gumfsmørgen this and gumfsmørgen that I find there is nothing better to offset all the blond with some amazing Japanese antiques. Peruse their kimono, Japanese vanities, and amazing compartment/storage/what have yous. The people here are very very quiet and very very nice. If you are polite about your bartering there is room for it here. Especially if you buy more than one piece.
  • Swallowtail: Back in the day when Swallowtail was in the upper Haight I never suspected this sleepy store to turn into the cornerstone of so many amazing design “happenings.” Then they moved to Polk Street and the store pretty much blew up. What is really refreshing about this store is how the owner sees things. Yeah yeah yeah with the antler bullhonkey already! But when Sheri gets her hands on them they actually look fresh again.
  • Nest: Do you happen to need a hand-quilted French comforter? No… ok, well, how about some amazing coffee table books about teacups? Ix-nay? Well then you will have to need some amazing French children’s coloring books from the 1940s. This store is a bizarre assortment of home goods. From some of the most amazing linens to French antiques to glassware – this store is really fantastic… to window shop. The prices are through the rough on so many things. But go here and mine for ideas until the day is neigh and then head over to Urban Ore or Ohmega and create your own amazing French-antique wonderland.
  • Mascara Vintage, Picnic and Bella Cose: Great vintage clothing and home accessories. Victoria says, "They're all small, mom & pop type shops that carry local designers' new work as well as cool flea market finds, which is my favorite kind of business to support."

Hayes Street

[Accessible by 5, 21]

  • Bulo: shoes, shoes and more shoes. A local favorite.
  • Peace Industry: Really why buy a rug anywhere else? If you have money and can afford to purchase quality wool rugs then to go to a place that isn’t Peace Industries is just stupid. I dream of a day when I can put rugs in my house that are as beautiful, well crafted, color balanced, ans textural while being subdued as these rugs.
  • Alla Prima: I’m gonna say this and then shut it: I have a lingerie obsession. This was my pusher man for years. A serious of occurrences have made me rethink my shopping here. But I won’t lie to you… one of the best shops in the city for FANCY (read over $200) bra and panties.
  • Rose + Radish: D*S's favorite shop in the neighborhood. Beautiful ceramics, gifts and home accessories from the best independent designers worldwide.
  • Lavish: one of Victoria's favorites.
  • Flight001: great shop for all your modern travel needs
  • Zonal Home and Alabaster: More of Victoria's favorites.
  • Propeller: This store has a whole hell of a lot of what you want… and a whole hell of a lot that you don’t. Depending on when you go in there they could be the coolest couch set you’ve ever seen or some bizarre cow-print chair that looked like it crawled out of a Betsey Johnson store circa 1989. If you are curious about what is “hot” then this is the store to go to see. They have most of the current trends readily available for you to purchase. At a price mind you.

South of Market/Potrero

[Accessible by 14, F, 12, 19, T]

  • Limn: What is happening at Limn is the next generation of furniture. Beautiful art pieces that you can sit on really. An amazing attached gallery that shows some of the best and brightest (like up and coming Courtney Skott!) I just like to go here and dream of a time when I can take my denim millions in here and support a store that gives so much back to the design community at large.
  • Dandelion (Tampopo): I mean really. This store has been around almost as long as I have. So much more than a “house wares” store. The carefully thought out spaces and great gifts really speak to a wide audience. Sometimes “cutting edge” but sometimes just a good place to go to KNOW there will be something I can purchase. Always. Sometimes that is worth it’s weight in gold.
  • Ribbionerie: Looking for that perfect piece of ribbon to hang that gilded frame? A just right piece of heaven to wrap around an entryway poll? Something to dangle off a chandelier or perhaps a little something to tie back the old drapes. They have it all here and more. Really. Nothing but ribbon (don’t let the overpriced antiques in the back fool you.) This is the place I go for a little something extra. My vases are all decorated with pieces of French glory purchased here

  • Cliff’s Variety Hardware
  • Period George

Hungry? South of Market house some pretty crazy eating holes though none of them are really close to these stores. Some of my favorites though are Tu Lan Vietnamese (6th and Market), Farley’s Coffe/Hazel’s Deli (18th street in Potrero Hill) and A2 café at 1111 8th street, not so much for the food (though I love the yam sandwich) more so for the amazing art that is going on at CCA(c).

Extras Around the City

  • Aria: Victoria says, "They carry just about everything you never knew you were looking for. Owner Bill Haskell rounds up the coolest, and the oddest of oddities and there's usually some melancholy French music drifting in the air. This is just a wonderful old shop to linger in after a cappuccino at one of the many Italian cafes nearby."
  • Veridgris: Victoria loves shopping for Rae Dunn's ceramics here.
  • Urban Mercantile: a personal D*S favorite
  • Eden and Eden: a great new suggestion for fun design accessories from Rena Tom
  • Wingard: D*S loves this shop for its gorgeous metal wall hangings

East Bay

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

atlanta design guide!

Atlanta practically invented the word sprawl. So, naturally, shoppers discover charming town squares and clusters of cool stores all over the 20-county metro area. But, in our opinion, certain districts reach critical mass. Here are five neighborhoods that warrant a day (or two) of shopping. Of course, this is Atlanta, so plan to drive.

Buckhead: Home to two major malls and most of Atlanta’s top fashion boutiques, Buckhead has long been the city’s swankest shopping district. Bustling Lenox Square features national retailers like Crate & Barrel, Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus, and Anthropologie. Home-related stores at the more sedate Phipps Plaza include Tiffany & Co. and Frontgate. At the nearby confluence of West Paces Ferry, Roswell, and Peachtree Roads—the epicenter of Buckhead—are the Atlanta locations of posh kitchen-and-bath fixture maker Waterworks, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and Design Within Reach. The Atlanta showroom for Paris Ceramics, with its exquisite antique and new stone, marble, and terracotta tiles and mosaics, is also along this strip. Not-to-miss local retailers include:
  • Shop Scad Atlanta: the Atlanta branch of this Savannah store is definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of independent design.
  • Pieces: Owner Lee Boren Kleinhelter gives vintage furniture a stylish new life—think ’50s-era Swedish deco-style chairs upholstered in burlap.
  • Pollen: This tiny gem is half floral design, half home accessories. Handmade, vintage, and unique finds make it the go-to place for impressing your hippest friends.
  • Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts (404-233-3400): This Atlanta institution started as a nursery and still specializes in orchids, hydrangeas, and live plants. But now it offers a mind-boggling array of clever and cottage-y home accessories.
  • Lush Life: Aptly named for its tropical plants and divinely scented candles and bath products, this local favorite offers luxurious home accessories often inspired by nature.
[Nosh: Dine with ladies-who-lunch at Souper Jenny (404-239-9023). Jennifer Levison’s hearty soups and salads, served by a dramatic waitstaff who are mostly starving actors, are worth the standing in line.]

Westside: This once-industrial area first attracted shoppers with two competing fabric warehouses: Forsyth Fabrics and Lewis & Sheron Textile Co. Next came the spirited Mexican furniture and accessories of No Mas! Home & Garden and yet more fabulous fabric from The Silk Trading Company. But the real tipping point was the opening of Westside Urban Market shopping center, which made the crossroads of Howell Mill and Huff Roads into one of the city’s top shopping destinations. Highlights of the area are:
  • Star Provisions: The kitchen and tabletop shop attached to nationally acclaimed Bacchanalia restaurant deserves four stars of its own.
  • Kolo Collection: Chic outdoor furniture from the world’s top manufacturers.
  • Poliform Switch: Impeccable modern credentials from the likes of Poliform, Knoll, Flexform, and Promemoria.
  • B. Braithwaite: The giant topiaries outside may remind you of Disney, but don’t look here for Mickey and Minnie. This nursery store and children’s boutique is all understated elegance and refined whimsy.
  • Bungalow Classic (1197 Howell Mill Road, 404-367-8522): Good taste will out. This furniture and home accessories store takes a fresh, youthful approach to classics. Lamps—like one with a white porcelain faux bois base—are especially cool.
  • Belvedere: Longtime designer’s secret source for mid-20th century classics, both iconic and lesser-known lines. Fabulous lamps, accessories (love the shagreen boxes), and new furniture complement the vintage look.
[Nosh: If Martha Stewart opened a restaurant in Atlanta, it would be the new JCT Kitchen & Bar — sleek and homey at the same time, serving fresh contemporary cuisine with a Southern accent. Elegant Bacchanalia’s is one of the city’s top restaurants, and Taqueria Del Sol serves addictive gourmet tacos.]

Miami Circle: Atlanta’s long love affair with antiques continues along Miami Circle. If you’re seeking something with a provenance, head to fine galleries like William Word and The Gables Antiques. Or transport yourself to the European countryside at Dearing Antiques and Foxglove Antiques. The street is also home to high-end fabric, rug, plumbing, granite, and other home suppliers, plus several art galleries, including the much-respected Fay Gold Gallery.
[Nosh: Festive little tapas bar Eclipse di Luna (eclipsediluna.com) is hidden at the end of the street.]

Peachtree Hills: Known best for the trade-only Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, this district has recently gone democratic with the opening of a new retail enclave, The Galleries of Peachtree Hills. The classical French complex quickly filled up with some of the city’s most prestigious art, home, and antique galleries. As you walk along the street, be sure to stop in:
  • Mrs. Howard and Max & Company (404-816-3830 and -3831): Phoebe Howard’s updated traditional look is as refreshing as the seashore, from which she often takes her inspiration.
  • Travis: The retail outlet of ADAC stalwart Travis & Company still offers French antiques, but with more of a 20th-century bent and lighthearted attitude.
  • Leontine Linens: Ultra-luxurious and elaborately monogrammed linens. Very Old South.
  • A few of the showrooms in ADAC West (next to the monolithic ADAC proper) are also open to the public: Kay Douglass, owner of South of Market, turns French and Belgian industrial artifacts into character-rich light fixtures and home furnishings. Renaissance Tile & Bath is the place to find cutting-edge bath fixtures, as well as the best of the classics.
[Nosh: Restaurant Eugene’s elegant interpretations of the freshest local ingredients immediately earned national accolades when it opened in 2004. But don’t rush, this is a treat to savor.]

Midtown: Atlanta’s hottest new shopping district caters to neighborhood loft dwellers with contemporary tastes. International retailers like Ligne Roset and Kartel have landed here. IKEA is nearby in the new live/work/play complex called Atlantic Station. But we’re especially partial to two Atlanta-based stores:
  • Retromodern: Pop goes the plastic! If you don’t catch the joy of modern design here, you’re hopeless. Remember why Bubble Chairs and Alessi corkscrews made you smile.
  • Space: A milky white floor, eye candy in streetfront windows, sleek Italian furniture and home accessories—all are museum-worthy cool.
  • Beehive Co-Op: great designer showcase
[Nosh: On your way over to Atlantic Station from Peachtree Street, enjoy the savvy décor and fresh cuisine of The Globe (globeatlanta.com).]

D*S Reader Additions:

Atlanta guide compiled for Design*Sponge by Betsy Riley: Editor, Atlanta Magazine’s HOME and Executive Editor, Atanta Magazine. *Recent reader updates were contributed by the Atlanta locals in the comment section below

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ask a designer: answers (port2port press)

hello there. first, i want to thank grace for asking me to be the "designer" in the
"ask a designer" series. as long as i have read design*sponge {2+ years now} grace has been a force for helping people get their work in front of more eyes ... i am very grateful for the online space she has created. second, thanks for being so curious! i am shocked that i had so many questions come in but i'm happy to give whatever information i can. as you will see, i organized them in a way that i thought was helpful. i wish you all luck in your endeavors and i thank you for reading my
answers ...


Where did you go to school and what did you study there? Did you pretty much know what you wanted to do when you entered college?

i went to school at indiana university and studied fine art/graphic design. i did not know what i wanted to study when i got there; not at all. i ended up in art when english just seemed to be the wrong fit for me. i never took one art class in high school nor did i show any interest in it as i was growing up. now, i get nearly all of my inspiration from the art world and i am very grateful to be a small part of it.

Do you have a day job? Does Port2Port pay the household bills? Is port2port a hobby business - something you do in your spare time for fun and to make a little extra cash or is it your sole source of income? How many hours a week would you say you spend designing,fulfilling orders, drumming up new business, and printing?

first, let me say that i love these questions. i can see why they are asked because of course you want some kind of context to my answers
to these "design" questions! so, i do not have a "day job"; port2port is my main source of income; i do some graphic design, art direction, photography & styling on the side to supplement. i do all of the work for port2port so i would say i put in at least 40 hours each week, maybe more. i will be completely honest and tell you that every month is a struggle to pay bills & rent. but i work hard and put all of my
effort into what i create so ... it works for me to have my work-life set up this way. {note: i have not been to the dentist in ages nor do i have health insurance; don't tell my parents}.

I have a question about location: is it tough to promote, make and find customers (or shops) for your work living outside of a "big city" ?

my location is portland, maine. we have a small town feel up here but i have found the community nothing but positive and supportive. i do not think one needs to be in a big city to have a creative & artistic company. i do think it may take more work to make connections but i don't mind because a small town fits my lifestyle needs completely.

Is there any part of the business that you expected to have trouble doing yourself, and how is it really? What, if anything, has helped? I am always thinking I would love to live on west coast, in part for the way I feel when I'm there; how did you decide to move across country? Was it a big move? And how did the move compel you to start port2port

when i moved from chicago to portland it was a big move and a big decision. i had a major support system in place in my life with friends and family so that helped quite a bit. the move certainly helped streamline my life and made having a small business possible {not that i had the idea back then}. i pay less for everything here so it helps in a practical sense and i am very inspired by my surroundings {the ocean, the woods, the cobble streets, etc} and that propelled me to make art. port2port press was started on a whim. i made one card in late 2005 and put it online. the next thing i knew i was making one card each month and expanding to one card set each month. it was a very organic process that was inched on by my daily life and how i had it set up. as i wanted to create more work, i found that i was dropping more freelance work {or it just worked out that the projects ended} and the business grew because there was a demand for it to grow. i have always expected to have trouble with a few parts of the business: the planning & the funding. i tend to plow forward with making work and not necessarily thinking about the possible consequences of making that work. for the most part i am okay with that struggle and i can't honestly tell you that it will go away any time soon.

Do you do a lot of planning? And do you actually go through with your plans?

as i just mentioned, i do some planning and for the most part i do go through with the plans. of course i think it's easy for me to go through with them because they are mainly small things like: "next month buy shipping supplies."

How do you have everything looking so professional? Say for example who writes your text on your website? Do you have any other people helping you?

thank you! i think that my work experience helps me make things look "professional". i have been lucky to work with many talented people and i am always like a sponge ... i like to learn from others. i write the text on my website; truly, i do everything for port2port press. however, i have lots of people who help me. with a small business i always think it's best to call on your friends. i have a dear friend from high school who is my marketing guru and another one who programs my website. i have lots of online friends from the blog community who i get tons of opinions from. i may do all of the work but i constantly call on my community for help.

I was wondering if you worked with a mentor to get your business up and running or was this all of your own accord? How did you know how to handle the business & marketing things?

i have had a few mentors with the letterpress part of the business. i learned about printing from a few guys who had a real passion for the precision of it all. i gathered a ton of knowledge just working in someone else's printshop and getting my hands dirty. as mentioned above, the business & marketing parts of my business are parts that i do but reluctantly. thankfully i have an old friend who i can call on for advice in such matters. port2port press doesn't have too many business and marketing matters though so i guess i'm lucky in that regard.

How have you gone about finding shops to carry your work? What have you found out when it comes to getting your goods into shops all around? Do you do any of the large trade shows, catalogs, sales reps? Does this take alot of time away from creating?

i have chosen to set up my business, for now, without wholesale accounts. it really comes down to the fact that i can't create it all myself the way i want to and make enough of the product to try to get it into shops, etc. for me it has never been about getting my work into shops. it has been about getting my work out of my head and onto paper. i would say port2port press is less stationery company and more monthly goods on paper company {if that makes any sense}. i design new paper goods each month and i don't reprint designs because that would defeat the purpose. i love creating and working from a place of monthly inspiration. if i was going to develop a wholesale line i don't think i would do the printing myself and that would just create a whole new wing of port2port press. i'm not quite ready for that and therefore things like trade shows, catalogs, sales reps, etc.

Is it hard to make a decent living with so much competition?

yes. one thousand times yes.


I'd love to know if Maria feels limited by the size and mechanics of the Pilot. I suppose I could email her to ask but I get the feeling it would be useful for folks to know - they're coveted and hard to come by, which in turn is reflected in the price for one, and yet I wonder how she compares it to work on the Vandercook or other larger press.

indeed the Pilot has lots of limitations but i don't spend too much time thinking about it. since most of the work i make are folded or flat cards it works quite well for such small pieces. i completely love the Vandercook. i learned to print on a press of this size. if i could squeeze one into my apartment {where i have my studio} i would do it in a second. they are such beautiful machines. i encourage all letterpress lovers to try printing on as many presses as they can.

What type of ink do you use with your press and where can i find it? Do you use polymer or magnesium plates? which do you find to work better? How do you get the shimmer? i have never had such luck with the rubber-based inks. What would you do if your press broke and you were
in the middle of a time-sensitive project?

i use rubber based & oil based inks. i buy them all from NA Graphics out of Colorado. i use magnesium plates which i get produced monthly by Owosso Graphics in Michigan. i don't do anything special to my metallic inks to get them to shimmer. i will say that for those printings i tend to use more ink; it's possible that that helps. if my press broke i would cry. after that i would figure out a plan of attack. luckily i just procured a 2nd Pilot so i am feeling less stressed about this kind of scenario. also i don't take on too many time-sensitive projects as i don't do a ton of custom work.

What camera do you use to shoot your inspiration shots and your
finished product shots? Do you alter them much in photoshop or just the

i use a Nikon d40. i also do a ton of shooting with film cameras. i
prefer film so i use it whenever i can. when necessary i certainly do use Photoshop for my digital images. i think that Photoshop is a part of the "basics" of digital photography since after all the images are meant to be seen on a computer.


I'm wondering what advice you might have for somebody hoping to start up a similar business? Do you suggest buying a letterpress right off the bat? In the early stages of your business, what steps did you take to build up your visibility and customer base into what it is today?

it's so hard for me to give advice since my business is so personal and customized to me but here are my thoughts ... if you want to have a letterpress business then firstly, spend time printing. i think it's important to know that the printing itself is often times tedious and hard on the body. so i would say find a print shop and see if you can intern there. if you fall in love then certainly it would make sense to buy a press. i have noticed in recent years that they are hard to find but briarpress.org is a great resource for all things letterpress-related. then i think it's important to define the kind of business you want. it's very easy, once you start, to hold yourself up against other businesses and think "mine should be like this" but i advise against that. i know that for me i want to make a modest living and make monthly art. those were my defining factors. so, define yours and go from there. as for building visibility and gaining a customer base, for me it sort of happened as a consequence of my life. i started a blog with one of my best friends in april of 2005. we started it to communicate with each other and take more photographs. i would say that the experience of being a part of the online artistic community just propelled me to
where i am. i didn't stop to think about it that much. it was nothing that i worked on and i certainly had no idea when i started it all that anyone would care to read an interview like this about me and my business! for me it has been about intentions and modest actions. again, this may not be practical advice to you and i do wish i had more of it but i guess i would say just get out there and do it.

What is it that keeps you going on those oh-so-tired days? Any words of advice for beginning designers that need to balance their creative work with a busy day job?

i remember last year i was running behind on printing my calendar
and i was running 2-3 inks each day ... i was just exhausted and my body was so sore that i was nearly crying on press. but somehow i just kind of made it through. maybe it was because it was me and my work and that was such a satisfying feeling. maybe it was the few glasses of wine i had each night. or maybe it was the fact that i had somehow surrounded myself with people who were working just as hard as i was, be it artists i had met in the online community or friends in town who were buzzing around with their "day jobs." i guess somehow even when i am tired i try to remind myself that i like what i do most days and that is really important. so i guess it's inner peace and all that rot. and i think if you are working a "day job" and wanting to also do letterpress printing maybe just shoot for doing one project each month. or one project each season. i think even that could be extremely rewarding if not more so than having to do more than that.

I love the concept of the card society. I have thought about doing something similar with the jewelry I make. Can you tell us about how you came up with the idea, the pros and cons, any other advice about it?

thank you! the card society is the love of my life. printing 2 cards each month and sending them out to places all over our country and the world just makes my heart skip a beat. the idea just sort of hit me {somewhat influenced by the Vosges Lunar Club Haut-Chocolat because i worked for Vosges for years} ... and i didn't put to much more thought into it after that. my marketing friend and other friends helped me define what it would be and then it just began! it was when i was 6 months into it that i figured out the financial numbers {oops} and made a few adjustments and certainly adjustments are still being made. a pro is that i can create new work each month and have a reason to get it out into the world. a con is that it's quite a bit of work and if i get right down to it i am not making that much money. my advice is just start small. if you want to do a mailorder club make sure you offer options and be ready to change and learn as you go. there is nothing wrong with change when it comes to a project like this... don't be afraid of it.

I would love advice on how to get that first design job. I worked in
photography and went back to school for graphic design. I find that places want 2+ years experience and find it's tough to get a foot in the door.

ack! i hate that "2+ years experience" line. i remember that. i would say that the best advice i have is to network. maybe that seems like an annoying word but it's really not. why shouldn't you meet people and talk to them about yourself and what you're looking for out of a work situation? maybe you will find something in a place that you never knew to look! many of my favorite jobs have been found via friends or acquaintances. and maybe don't be afraid to take something that may seem "beneath" you. there is much to learn on the bottom rung and there are always rungs above it as well.


Do you do your own illustrations? if you do, what suggestion would you have for someone who would like to make stationery but can't make their own illustrations?

i do not draw but often times use my photography or scanning to
create original illustrations. i also use lots of bits from old books and clip art, etc {and i alter them}. it doesn't bother me in the least to use art that is out in the public domain. i don't think that all illustrations need to be original. i think it's more about intention and original creation. if i take an illustration that i find in an old book and alter it a little and print it on a card it becomes something new. there are lots of places to find illustrations; you could start with Dover Publications.

How do you stay inspired after all this time to create new and interesting designs? What inspires you? Who are you favorite artists?
Artists you admire and ones that inspire you? What books, movies and music do you find most inspiring?

i am certainly not up & inspired every day. somedays i just need to do the grunt work of printing or shipping so i can zone out! but i try
to keep myself inspired by taking lots of walks, giving myself plenty of time off, browsing online content {blogs, flickr, artist sites}, photographing, tearing out bits from magazines, blogging, talking to other artists or friends, not getting bogged down by the details. i keep my studio, the largest room in my apartment, pretty organized and i update my inspirations wires regularly {see them here}. it helps me to take old inspirations down and replace them with new ones. bottom line: i'm inspired by simple, practical, beautiful. inspiring me lately: {these lists could be longer but ... }

artists: Maude Arsenault, Elisabeth Dunker, Camilla Engman, Gracia Haby + Louise Jennison, Christopher Ryan, Ditte Isager, Chie Nakagawa, Lena Corwin, Ivana Helsinki, Roland Bello, Caitlin Mociun, Akira Minagawa, Ben Loiz, Karen Gelardi, Karin Eriksson.

books: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin, The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater, Pure Style Living by Jane Cumberbatch, The Years by Virginia Woolf, Evening by Susan Minot ... i love japanese craft-style books and magazines too!

movies: Dead Man, Reconstruction, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Rear Window, The House of Sand, Amelie, V for Vendetta, Punch Drunk Love, 25th Hour, Matrix


I'll be visiting a friend in Portland in a couple weeks - is there a store I can find your work in?

i have my Aurum Stria series of cards {done with the wonderful illustrator Natalie Tweedie} in Edith & Edna on Exchange Street. they can also be seen online at Little Paper Planes, Papa Stour & Tote.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ask a designer: judy ross (answers)

Q: Do you try to incorporate how your design will ultimately look in a room into your design process? And if so how does this attitude affect your designs?

A:I really start with a blank piece of square paper and put my ideas. I do sometimes try to create a design that would have a good feeling say in a very modern room but mostly I create with my own standards in mind. My design sense is all about a bold graphic with a slight imbalance/dynamics going on…

Q: What about competition? I've seen pieces at West Elm that look a lot like Judy's work and I wonder what her views on copying are. How do you protect your work or do you just try to ignore the copiers?

A: I do protect my work by copy righting all my designs in Washington D.C. In the end the best is to ignore all those copiers and just keep moving forward. I do think West Elm should be taught a lesson…they are one of the worst copiers and it is very unfair what they are doing. They should hire us as designers for them, instead of plagiarizing our work. (Anthropologie also!)

Q:How did you get your business off the ground. I'm a textile designer who recently graduated from FIT and I'm having a hard time getting a loan. How did you make the financial end happen to get things moving? And, how did you find the money to hire a staff and pay people. I need help but can't imagine making enough money to pay someone.

A: At the beginning, I worked freelance with embroidery companies in the garment center and used this money to finance my business.I also had a job in Paris where I designed embroideries for a company and this paid very well and I used those earnings also. The manufacturers who produced my pillows/rugs gave me long periods of time to pay them back, which helped a lot.. In the beginning I did not have an assistant for the first two years, as I grew the business. I am proud to say I never took out a loan and I built up credit. I was lucky to have a style that is mine and a excellent product. That is the key to my success.

Q: I am a designer and I've always been limited by making everything myself. I have started working with other people who are sewing for me, so I can spend more time designing and printing! I'm finding it nearly impossible to get the quality of work I'm looking for, and I feel exhausted from unsuccessfully searching for someone in my city (Buenos Aires) who can work with my quality standards. I am starting to wish I could just go back to making everything myself! So, I wonder if Judi has any advice or words of inspiration about finding and working with subcontractors and negotiating about quality. Also, I'm curious, how often do you add new designs to your line, and how long do you keep each design in your collection?

A: You have to persevere and keep looking until you find the right subcontractors. You cannot go back to making it yourself because you will never grow. There should be people out there who can sew a quality piece. It took me a few manufacturers to get exactly what I wanted and I still have to keep on top of them. So do not give up. I do a new collection twice a year. This is a lot to keep up but it is the part I enjoy the most so I make the effort. Most of my designs stay in the collection, for example Procession that I produced in 1995, I still produce today. Sometimes a design will disappear for a few years but I will bring it back. I think the beauty of my designs is that they are timeless and work in many situations.

Q: I wondering about getting your products out there. How did you in the beginning get the much needed exposure? Was it through press or did you take part in the many shows? If it was through the press how did you get their attention? Do you have any advice for doing it all on a VERY limited budget? Please don't tell me it was luck.

A: My advice on a limited budget is to make beautiful pictures and have them inkjet printed from your computer. Present yourself with a nice logo and packaging. Send this out to all the magazines. If it is something worthy they will answer you. It is their job to find and feature new and interesting projects. My work is very graphic and is very photogenic so it works well when sent out to the press. Also it is helpful to do a trade show because all the press walk them in search of new products. This is hard on a limited budget.

Q: How do you manage your time between raising your children and running a company? I just gave birth to my second and the idea of caring for both kids and trying to find time to create seems impossible. I'd love any tips on time management you have. That and managing the guilt of being away from them!

A: It is very difficult to do both and you have to put limitations to each in order to manage. I have two boys, 5 and 10 and between my company and my children, I am very busy. My tips are to be very organized and surround yourself with good people who can help you with all your responsibilities. I forfeit going out a lot to all these design events to be home with my children most every night. This does hurt my business in a way but you have to make choices as to what is more important. I love my work and I try to balance as best I can being a mother and a woman with a career. The guilt is there many times …but I do think there is something to say for children who see their mother working successfully in her craft. I try to do wonderful things with them and be there as much as I can after a working day of 9 to 6.

Q: I was wondering how you find good production resources? (seems like a scary and ambiguous world). I'm assuming you use several different factories depending on the product(?). do you ever need to travel to oversee the production? Kudos to you for balancing such a great career while raising a child!

A: Finding production can be a difficult task. I was lucky to meet people on one of my trips to India in 1989, and I have worked with some of them since. It did take a number of years of training as to what the quality had to be. Now that there is the internet, it is quite easy to research manufacturers and get in touch. It does take a trip to really organize and be sure that the work is being done properly. Since I have had my two boys, I have not had to travel since I have set up the production properly at the start. When the boys are older, I hope to take them on a wonderful trip to India to see how it all gets done. They are very aware and proud of my work and it will be fun for them to meet all the manufacturers who they have heard me speak to all these years (and yell at a bit from time to time).

Q: My question for Judy is if she has any advice for someone who is thinking about doing to school for textile arts. Did she know exactly what she wanted to do right from the start? What was her vision for her future when she was starting out? Thanks very much.

A: I actually went to school for painting. I took textile courses as a backup , since I knew I could make money doing designs, repeats and colorings. The boundaries of my painting and textile design training meshed into one and I began painting on fabric. My vision became clear when I took a job in India and fell in love with the embroideries which I came upon during my visits. You have to start with something you enjoy and see where life leads you.

Q: How do you choose colors? Do you watch for up coming trends, or just go with your instincts?

A: I like to do a little of both.. I have my own color sense which I always draw upon when I am designing. But having worked in the Fashion world, I do enjoy looking at their color trends. I find it helps to key into some of the trends in color, especially when you are selling to very fashionable trendy stores.

Friday, May 11, 2007

toronto design guide!

i've really enjoyed being able to add some reader generated, d*s edited city guides to the site. it's rare that i get to work with local experts and i find that their input is priceless when it comes to capturing the real feeling of an area. for the toronto design guide writers meaghan clark and waheeda harris put together a list of their favorite, must-visit shops in the toronto area. as always this will be a guide that grows and changes as we go along so feel free to leave suggestions below if you think we've missed one of your favorite toronto shops. thanks meaghan and waheeda!


Queen Street East has become Queen Street West so to speak, and is now where the cool kids go to shop, wander, eat and indulge. The area bordering Broadview Avenue at it’s western border and Woodbine Avenue in the east is home to vintage furnishing stores, antique haunts and junk shops, affordable eats with rising–star chefs, emerging fashion artists, with an occasional curiosity spot here and there. Included in this section are the galleries and studios on Carlaw Avenue, between Gerrard and Queen. Cruise this hood and look for new and almost daily posted signs for “coming soon” in abandoned shop windows or watch shopkeepers switch and swap spaces as their businesses grow.

Hardware: Rustic, hand and custom made dining tables from salvaged woods are a staple. The owners partner woods-y furniture with modern light fixtures and gorgeous accessories such as mercury glass, feathers, and woven baskets.

Pazo: Mid-century classics, modern contemporary and offbeat accessories make their way to this chic spot.

Handmade Cabinets: Custom made cabinetry with a refined, rustic look; also refurbish and restore.

Machine Age Modern: Another haunt for retro pieces and recognizable names like Eames, Knoll and more.

Ethel: Storefront window always features one or two unique pieces of mid- century superstar furniture; the store has nothing but.

Festoon: Recently moved to a bigger space down the street, a testament to their success; unique gifts, accessories, affordable reproductions and local artists represented.

Winkel: Prop buyer and store owner Kari Measham has a soft spot for the unusual and quirky; a haven for off the wall cards from Canadian artists, affordable accessories and custom lampshades too.

Eyespy: refurbished finds with an emphasis on teak; gifts and cards for young and old; oddities and cheeky accessories make it a must-see.

Zig Zag: the website says it all; modern finds for those who are more daring; check for latest inventory online as well

Uppity: fun and funky décor and antiques that are preserved, not necessarily restored.

Flik and Company: Twist to modern country; have sister store across the street Forest and Co, that offers more cottage-y finds.

Up To You: For the ultra hipster looking for that one of a kind, original and cutting edge gadget.

Green Tea Design: Asian inspired contemporary furniture, including kitchen units; ship anywhere in the world.

Dragon Heir: Antique and reproduction Asian furnishings and accessories; mandarin club for those who want to learn more about culture and language.

Other noteworthy stores to check out include: Bronze (antiques), Mugsy’s (retro), Waddle & Daub (accessories)


Eastern Front Gallery: member of the Toronto East End Gallery Association

Hang Man Gallery: gallery face of this association

Toronto Free Gallery: also a TEEGA member

Parts Gallery: my personal favorite in the hood

Six Shooter Records: part gallery, part indie rock store, part Canadian retail phenomenon


Edward Levesque’s Kitchen: thoughtful fare, local suppliers, fair prices.

Pulp Kitchen: great vegetarian menu, snacks to go; just don’t engage them in “politics of organic” conversations.

Pop Bistro: newer to the east end offering rural French bistro.

Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant: delicious, modern take on Italian cuisine and affordable too./p>

Kubo Radio: fusion Asian, worthwhile brunch and red velvet baby cakes!

Le Café Vert: giving Pulp Kitchen a run for their money

Tomi-kro: Asian flair, a la carte

Real Jerk: Caribbean flavors a mainstay in this hood

Bonjour Brioche: another staple but for breads and pastries

Altitude Bakery: known for amazing pies

It’s the Icing on the Cake: you name it, they’ll make it; outrageously detailed cakes for any occasion

Cajun Corner: all things Louisiana; small kitchen with daily specials

Leslieville Cheese Shop: artisan cheeses from home and around the world; classes and workshops held periodically


A slice of Europe in the downtown core, this recently refurbished neighborhood of galleries, fine restaurants, specialty shops and cutting edge design continues its renaissance with more shops, more residences to come. There’s talk of a boutique hotel, major music venue, community park and gardens in 2008.

DOM toronto: Exclusive rep for Valcucine, high-end Italian kitchens; great for ogling

Fluid Living: contemporary Canadian furnishings, imported accessories, brand names

Found Objects: more contemporary furnishings, some Canadian faces, great gifts

Bergo Designs: contemporary, award-winning artisans in accessories, jewelry, and home décor

Akroyd Furniture: bespoke furniture from gorgeous woods, hand-crafted in studio.

Artifex: Canadian made products from furniture to ceramics to glass art

Sound Designs: home entertainment centre with latest technology and brands.

Fawn Ceramics and Gallery: beautiful tiles, ceramics, textiles; my favorite place of all.

Elizabeth Munro Design: gorgeous arrangements at reasonable prices


Blue Dot Gallery: contemporary pieces from local artists

Channel Gallery: affordable, Canadian art

Corkin Gallery: national and international, photo-based artists

Distill: different mediums all from emerging artists

Red Eye Studio Gallery: all local painters, variety of styles

Sandra Ainsley Gallery: major contemporary artists from around the world with all glass exhibits; worth seeing but don’t take kids!

Thompson Landry Gallery: strictly French Canadian artists; wide/wild variety of styles


Boilerhouse Restaurant: chop house with varied menu; best jazz brunch in the city;`contemporary Euro design, 22 ft wine rack, worth seeing.

Archeo: updated Italian food; innovative design, perfect hideaway patio.

Pure Spirits: Oyster bar and restaurant; huge selection of oysters, nice range menu.

Mill Street Brew Pub: attached to the brewery; worthy artisan beers; upscale pub grub

Perigee: based on Japanese concept of Omakase (trust me); open dining layout; major splurge, but worth every penny.

Balzacs: in-house roasted coffees, great desserts, romantic setting

Soma: the place to worship chocolate; Mayan hot chocolate is best in town.

Brick Street Bakery: British style bakery with pot pies, interesting sandwiches, daily stews and specials, gorgeous pastries.


As the name suggests, this meticulously maintained former warehouse is located on Richmond St West, in the fashion district. Home to a wide variety of artists, galleries, indie media companies, theatre companies, collectives and more, the 401 is an absolute buzz of creative activity. Regular tours, sample sales, shows and gallery openings, mean it should be on every Torontonian’s radar. Take a break and sip a tea on the green roof with its fantastic view of the downtown skyline. www.401richmond.net


A small strip in the heart of the Portugese area of the city, Portugal Village’s street cred has lured many galleries, restaurants and artists to the pre-war buildings and unique mix of grad students and locals who want family-owned groceries and bakeries and the city’s design secrets.

Made: source for up and coming furniture, lighting and home accessories

Cindiloowhoo & Jaiden Flowers: country-style antiques and unique ephemera while Jaiden displays simply arranged fresh flowers, oversized glass vases and vintage accessories

Virginia Johnson: textile designer influenced by Mother Nature’s shapes and bright colours


Gallery 129

AWOL Gallery

Gallery TPW

Lennox Contemporary

C1 Art Space: gallery, shop, studios and classes


Get Real!: veggie friendly cafe

The Dakota Tavern: country, bluegrass and folk music nightly and bluegrass brunch every Sunday

The Sparrow: casual brunch & dinner spot/lounge w/dj on weekends

Sweaty Betty’s: friendly wee bar w/backyard patio & occasional writers’ rant afternoons


Queen Street is a major shopping area of the city, but changes its spots – from Yonge to Spadina, the combination of government, high culture and brand name high street shops have pushed galleries and independent retailers farther west. Textile shops dominate the strip on the edge of the Fashion District, but it’s beyond Bathurst where design gets interesting. Galleries, designers and vintage shops have staked their claim in the Trinity Bellwoods area, named for the enormous park which is a restful spot after shopping and a dog’s delight for meeting other four-legged friends.

Leigh & James: A combination of new furniture and antiques from Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, designers Nicky & Dean intersperse their showroom with cool Asian accessories and lighting.

Morba : A treasure trove of mid-century to modern furniture and accessories: a source for film crews and stylish locals.

MacFab: MacDonald Faber Fabrics is the source of funky faux furs to elegant embroidered silks. Now offering custom curtains, ottomans, headboards and upholstery items.

Urban Mode: Created by an artist and interior designer, a great source for Canadian and international furniture and home accessories and one of the oldest contemporary stores in Toronto

Commute Home: original wood and metal designed furniture, lighting and accessories mixed with vintage pieces such as medical and photography equipment

Fluf: pillows of all shapes and sizes from felt to silk

The Paper Place: the source for handmade paper to make love notes, décor and craft projects

Token: a gift shop for the stationery-obsessed with distinct selection of letterpress cards for all occasions.

Style Garage: sleek modern lighting, furniture and accessories with emphasis on glass, wood and Earthy neutrals

Planet Kid: For all things kid – from clothes to toys and furniture.


Ontario Crafts Council

Clint Roenisch Gallery


Edward Day Gallery

Casuccio Gallery: Canadian and Cuban artists


Clafouti: French patisserie

Fresh: vegan and veggie local chain.

Bar One: casual Italian and best cappuccino in T.O.

Sugar Café: brunch hotspot with homespun ambience

Queen Street West- Parkdale

An area that has transformed in the past years, the edge of Parkdale has seen it’s long ago glamour found again. A neighbourhood that had been a crown jewel of the city at the beginning of the 20th century, Parkdale lost its lustre in the 1970s. Its resurgence has been predicted for awhile, but the wheels are turning with the re-established hotels of the area into art havens, and a gentrification that isn’t cookie cutter.

Studio Brillantine: edgy, unusual, whimsical modern design objet from Alessi, Phillipe Starck, Barbapapa, Georg Jensen and Isamu Noguchi.

In Abstracto: a mix of Canadian, Italian and Scandi mid-century furniture and accessories

Koma Designs: part vintage furniture, part furniture design gallery, this Parkdale store combines 60s/70s style and is supportive of T.O. eco-conscious designers Brothers Dressler and new design troupe The Vest Collective.


Stephen Bulger Gallery: photography gallery with classic and contemporary images is partnered with Camera Bar- a lounge and screening gallery programmed by owner/director Atom Egoyan.

Katherine Mulherin Contemporary Art Gallery

Spin Gallery

Engine Gallery


Café Bernate: stylish fair-trade coffee and sandwich shop with plethora of veggie options

The Beaconsfield: French style snacks and dinner with infusions of global ingredients


The Drake: Not just a hotel, café, restaurant, roof top bar, lounge, exhibition or performance space, The Drake’s unique mix of accommodation, food, drinks and art has helped revitalize the way west strip of Queen Street. With monthly artists-in-residence, art exhibitions and the site of music, comedy and fashion shows, The Drake was just chosen as one of the top 500 hotels by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

The Gladstone Hotel: A restored Victorian hotel which has gone full circle from elegant accommodation for travellers run by a single parent & 13 kids to an artist-designed hotel rooms run by the Zeidler family 115 years later. A venue for all forms of art from displayed to performance, The Gladstone Hotel acts as a gateway to Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, providing short-term artist studio spaces, exhibition space, and overnight accommodations for travellers seeking more than a chain hotel.

Meaghan Clark is a freelance writer in Toronto who covers design, fashion, health and eco lifestyle issues. Waheeda Harris is a freelance writer and columnist in Toronto who writes about fashion, design, music and travel.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

los angeles design guide

Written by Lizzie Garrett + Edited by Design*Sponge

When I was talking to Grace about the idea of an L.A. design guide I was moaning about how hard it is to compartmentalize this sprawling city into neat little neighborhoods, and while some, like Silver Lake, are easy to define— the one I live in has no distinct name (it's between Hollywood and West Hollywood, usually I just say my street.) No distinct name is a fair trade, however, for the best design shopping in town. What follows is a guide to the must-visit design stores in Los Angeles, including four great streets from my "Los Angeles" neighborhood and the best of Silver Lake. Enjoy. [This list will be updated frequently so please feel free to comment below or email d*s your suggestions]

Getting There: For public transportation options, check out mta.net.

W. 3rd Street: If you have to pick one street for walking, eating, and shopping, the strip of 3rd between Crescent Heights and La Cienega is a no-brainer. It's colorful, sunny, and has a great energy about it. Here are the must-see design shops on 3rd:

  • OK Store: OK, quite rightly, has the reputation of being the mecca of LA design stores— maybe because the owner, Larry Schaffer, seems to be known by everyone in town. The store has a little bit of everything good, and a wide range of blown glass, rare design books, japanese tea sets, and Tair Mercier placemats.
  • Zipper: An excellent place to go for gifts, Zipper mixes elegant with whimsy.
  • New Stone Age: From its edited selection of John Derian trays to the antique bird cages—it makes you feel like you're in a 19th Century science lab—I love it. [Photo above from New Stone Age]
  • Plastica: All plastic, all the time (bento boxes, woven plastic rugs, Marimekko trays)—this shop shows the world not all plastic in L.A. comes from Dr. 90210.
  • Flight 001: Anything you need to travel comfortably and stylishly under one fuselage—and the best selection of luggage tags around.
  • Room Service: Located way east on 3rd is Room Service; a Poppy/funky home goods store heavy on the loft style.

[Nosh: One of the most popular places to eat on 3rd is Toast, especially for brunch because it has plenty of outdoor seating—but hardly the best food. Try the new Little Next Door Market—a French deli with excellent baguettes and soups or Joan's On Third, the local's favorite.]

Beverly Blvd: Parallel to 3rd, and just one block north, Beverly is not only the new restaurant row—it boasts a sprinkling of design shops, including two of my favorites: Zelen Home and Ige Designs. Here are the shops to visit when you're cruising on Beverly:

  • Ige: Helene Ige, famous for her pillows and mobiles, has a store that I could spend hours in. Last time I was
    there I bought a tiny plastic lobster with bobbleing pinchers that sits on my stovetop.
  • Zelen Home: Zelen is a little shop full of beautiful curiosities, most with an emphasis on the natural world. Here is where you find the things everyone will comment on, and no one will have.
  • Modernica: I think of it as DWR's arch enemy! I love Modernica because you can custom build an Eames fiberglass chair in any color, base or height you want. Herman Miller stamp? We don't need no stinking stamp.
  • Sonrisa Furniture: Fantastic office furniture with a selection of vintage (Steel Case) and modern metal.
  • Emmerson Troop & Orange: These two stores (right next door from each other) both offer a selection of vintage goods, mostly furniture, that will knock your socks off, unfortunately the prices won't.
  • Shelter: Inspired by mid-century design, they call their furniture and accessories "high-end basics" and I agree.
  • Twentieth: The closest thing to a Moss in Los Angeles, Twentieth focuses soley on high-end design.

[Nosh: BLD has a blueberry ricotta pancake that will bring you one step closer to heaven as well as an out-of-this-world fried egg sandwich.]

Melrose Ave: Just one more block north from Beverly lies perhaps one of the most well-known streets in the city. East of Fairfax, Melrose is full of clothing stores, head shops, costume stores, sneaker stores (read: Von Dutch, Johnny Rockets, and that place that sells herbal ecstasy); but West of Fairfax caters to a more sophisticated palate—(read: Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, Fred Segal and Marc Jacobs). Most of these stores are not unique to L.A., so I wont go into too much detail. Oh, and rumor has it Murray Moss is opening a West Coast Moss sometime in 2007 on Melrose Place.

  • The Rug Company: Designer rugs at designer prices.
  • Paul Smith: I love going into the Paul Smith store to check out their coffee table books, Deadly Squire merch, Aalto vases, and other designy items.
  • Jonathan Adler: Where would we be these past ten years with out JA?
  • TableArt: Just over a year old now, Tart has become synonymous with hip tableware (think Bodo Sperelin and Ted Mueling) in L.A.
  • Zero Minus Plus at Fred Segal (8100 Melrose Avenue): If you can handle it, Fred Segal has home store that has a great selection of picture
    frames, coffee table books, and home office goods.
  • Marc Jacobs Home: His first shipment flew out of the store faster than most people could even get a glimpse. Perhaps
    his collaboration with Waterford will stick around a little longer.
  • Soolip Paperie & Press: Excellent selection of stationary and cards.
  • Fitzsu Society: Carlo Alessi, Marcel Wanders, Kaj Franck, Phillipe Starck, Marc Newson, and Michael Graves all living in
    harmony under one roof. I love this store because it melds together several decades and still maintains a current-as-ever vibe.

[Nosh: Urth Caffé: is a casual lunch spot with excellent organic coffee, tamales, and salads. M-Café de Chaya boasts an all macrobiotic menu— order the organic French fries, trust me.]

La Brea Ave: Most of the action on La Brea is on the East side of the street, you'll find some great little stores to pop into, an artsy
movie theatre, a vintage sunglass store that is unreal—no really: the have mirrored white Rossignol aviators from the 1980s, and a general youthful edginess to the atmosphere.

  • Maison Midi: A must for Francophiles, the imports like Perrier glassware and Lagiole knives are top notch. Conveniently a connecting doorway will lead you right into American Rag for some designer denim.
  • Volcom: Occasionally the Volcom store, which blends artistic expression and retail seamlessly throughout their clothing
    opens it's back room as a gallery to surfer/skater/snowboarder artists like Oska Wright and Kenton Parker, and those bros can paint, man!
  • Homework: Homework balances whimsical design with modern staples and just as important— no pretense anywhere.
  • Landon Cole Furniture: Along with Landon's custom furniture (much of it rich dark woods) he sells original photography and paintings in the store.
  • Diamond and Foam Fabrics: Interior designers swear by this place and I have to say it's more fabric than the eye can see—so go with something in mind or you'll be there for
  • Pulp: Off beat office supplies, beautiful wrapping paper and the best greeting cards are why I am there before every holiday and birthday.

[Nosh: Pop into Cube, for an artisinal cheese plate
or charcuterie assortment, some pasta, a pizza, or a just a great salad. It is one of the best bangs for the buck I know of in this city (besides the Taco truck next to the car wash). Or, for an almost guaranteed celeb citing check out Café Midi, which is connected to the home store Maison Midi, and has a killer croque madame. For a great drink and some goat cheese fondue keep walking South down to Luna Park]

Silver Lake: For a more hipster (L.A.'s version of Williamsburg) experience head east about 15 minutes to Silver Lake, home to rockers
like Beck, Rooney, Karen O, Pavement and a few design stores you don't want to miss.

  • A+R: Hands down my favorite design store on the East side. It's one of those places where you say, "I like everything in here."
  • Yolk: The place to find unusual gifts, items that are only carried by independent contractors. An indie design store in Silver Lake? No way!
  • Reform School: Opened last Fall to rave reviews not only because their products are great finds, but most of them are environmentally-friendly.

[Nosh: Gingergrass: Fresh Vietnamese food with a modern interior—their imperial rolls are reason enough to make the
drive, or even rent an apartment in Silver Lake.]

This article was written by Lizzie Garrett and Edited by Design*Sponge. Lizzie Garrett is an L.A.-based freelance writer who has written for Los Angeles Magazine, Bon Appétit, and edits a design blog called DESIGNwatcher.com

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