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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

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