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Friday, October 27, 2006

One night, two parties

Last night I was lucky enough to attend two happening events in the city with a couple friends. The first was Modern Design 25, a dual celebration for both the opening of Alno's newest showroom in the Boston Design Center, and for Metropolitan Home's 25th anniversary. Alno, from Germany, is a designer and manufacturer of modern kitchens. Their pieces have a wonderful, modern look and feel about them. Bang & Olufsen had two spectacular A/V setups in the showroom; Bodum provided the glassware for the open bar, as well as had a table featuring their beautiful coffee and tea presses and pots; and Audi had an A6 Avant and Q7 SUV parked out front.

We had a chance to meet and briefly speak with Met Home's Senior Editor of Design & Architecture, Susan Victoria. She seems to be a very nice, intelligent woman. She's had a long history in the design and journalism industries; I would love to sit with her and learn one-tenth of what she knows!

After that, we went to the Oktoberfest party at Boston Art, Inc. BAI helps "Corporations, Healthcare Providers, Hotels, Building Owners and Residential clients when they need well-chosen art to successfully complete their relocation or renovation." It was an odd mix of young, hipster artists and older business people amongst some amazing local art. BAI has an incredible office in a converted mill building on Congress St. that I wouldn't mind spending some considerable time in.

All in all, a great night.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Inspired by China

China has a great history in furniture design.
So great, in fact, the Peabody Essex Museum is presenting a new exhibition that highlights how China has inspired western furniture design. Inspired by China will feature 22 designers, specially selected for the event, from the US, Canada, and China. There will be a total of 57 pieces on display: 29 examples of historic Chinese furniture; and 28 pieces made specifically for the event.

The exhibition will run from this Saturday, October 28 to March 4, 2007. If you miss it, you can always catch the exhibition when it travels to the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from Nov. 30, 2007, to March 4, 2008.

Thanks to Metropolis Magazine for their Eastern Events listings.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Ultimate Loft

Earlier today, I saw an ad link in my Gmail account above the inbox listed as The Ultimate Loft. Curious as to what loft might qualify as the ultimate, I clicked away.

If your definition of the ultimate loft is a gritty artist's loft ripped straight from NYC's Leather District, this isn't for you. This 2400 sq. ft., bi-level loft sits in the heart of Boston's trendiest neighborhood, the South End, in the Laconia Lofts building.

The 19 foot ceilings and 12 foot windows are quite impressive. The master bathroom with its double shower is even more impressive. So is the 1000 sq. ft. roof deck. But at $1.39 million, it's a bit far from my ultimate price range.

Linda Garriott in BM's H&G

I met Linda Garriott last spring at Build Boston's Residential Design 2006. Through her company, Linda Garriott Design, she designs some amazingly beautiful contemporary rugs. She was recently featured, along with Angela Adams and Company C, in the newest issue of Boston Magazine's Home & Garden, which I wrote about earlier. The good news is that Linda has added the article to her website, so you can read it online. Thanks Linda!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Samsung's Truly Thin Flat Panel TV

I'm not truly an addict to TV like the average American, but after seeing this on electro^plankton, I felt compelled to tell you all. Samsung has just introduced a truly thin, 12mm thick 17" flat screen TV. (Is that some sort of contradiction?) Not only is it thin, but it packs some great specs: a 1000:1 aspect ratio; a 170ยบ viewing angle; a brightness of 400 candle power; and a screen response time of .01ms. Although its performance is quite impressive, I'm not sure how many US homes would be willing to spend the money on a 17" TV, if this ever comes here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

DWR's Annual Leather Sale

For the next 10 weeks, DWR is having their annual leather sale. Select from 10 vibrant hues of full grain leather on five of their most popular collections, like the Theater collection (pictured). Along with these special colors, you can get free shipping if you order before November 6 - which is a good deal, as DWR's shipping costs can be prohibitive.

Friday, October 20, 2006

1330 Back Bay Fens

The Boston Business Journal reported today that real estate developer Samuels & Assoc. is facing potential problems with 1330 Back Bay Fens, its planned 215-unit condominium/retail/office project on Boylston St, near Trilogy. Apparently, construction costs have been steadily rising, pushing the expected cost of the project from $80- to over $100 million, which would make it hard to sell the condos for a reasonable profit. This is making S&A think about possibly making them apartments instead of condos. Everyone knows that rent rates are rising. If they do it this way, they can make the money through lease payments with annual price increases.

Also, S&A convinced the Boston Redevelopment Authority to allow them to reduce the number of low income units from 10% of the units built, to 5%. This will allow S&A to defray some of the added costs of construction to future owners/tenants.

Now, I'm not an urban planner, but I understand that it is a developer's job to improve a neighborhood, and his right to make a decent profit from doing so. I applaud Vordano helping to rejuvenate Downtown Crossing. The thing I don't get is, why this neighborhood? The Fenway area has been traditionally a pretty low rent district. From where 1300 Back Bay Fens is, there are at least eight colleges and universities, Fenway Park and Lansdowne Street. In fact, you can see in this aerial that 1330 is between several colleges and Fenway Park. In a would-be sly marketing move, they didn't even show all the schools in the area, or where Lansdowne St is located, and no where in the full brochure did they mention the fetish clubs a few doors down on Boylston St.

I'm sure, with enough persuasion from the city, the fetish clubs can close of move, but the Lyons Group (that own the majority of Lansdowne St.) have heavy influence within the city, and won't be leaving any time soon. The city considered building a new baseball field for the Red Sox, but reconsidered after enormous public backlash. And the colleges and universities have long-standing ties to the community; no developer is going to get Northeastern or BU to relocate.

With that said, is there truly a market for high end condos or apartments in the Fenway area?

Poggenpohl's Rosemary Porto

Last night, Alicia and I went to DWR on Tremont St for a discussion with Rosemary Porto, the executive designer at the Poggenpohl Boston Showroom. Rosemary, an interior designer with over 20 years of experience, did a slide show that went through the history of Poggenpohl, the company that invented the modular kitchen, as well as kitchen trends over the past several years.

One kitchen she briefly touched upon is the one pictured above. Part of a full renovation of a 1400 square foot, two bedroom apartment in Boston, Rosemary and architect Stephen Tise came up with a table that ingeniously pulls out of the island to go from 2 to 5 person dining. She also designed a custom halogen light fixture around the hood. Along with all the wonderful custom work is beautiful Poggenphol cabinetry fronted with mirror and frosted glass. The flooring is bamboo. And the dining chairs are reupholstered Eames side chairs.

This kitchen was featured in a variety of publications, such as Designer Magazine, and was on HGTV's I Want That! Kitchens.

Rosemary Porto is a former President of the New England chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association. She mentioned she is starting her own design firm within a few weeks, so I'm not sure if she'll be with Poggenpohl for long. I gave her my email address, so I'll be sure to let you all know once I get the word that her website is up.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dwell's "Win a Modern Carpet" Contest

Since we moved into Southie five months ago, Alicia and I have been slowly decorating the house. We're moving slow on purpose, not wanting to make the mistake of buying an cheapo piece that we're going to want to replace in a few months. One thing that is taking a while to find is a rug for the living room. We're looking for a nice, modern rug that isn't going to cost an arm and a leg.

Well, it's Dwell to the rescue! At the bottom of their latest newsletter is a link to the "Win a Modern Carpet" Contest. All you have to do is give your name, email address, and phone number, and you can be in the running for a beautiful, hand made rug from Emma Gardner Design. The Curio rug (pictured above) is made in India from sustainable, 100% New Zealand wool, and you can rest assured that, as a member of RugMark, the rug was made without the use of child labor. Valued at $1,998, it is sure to be a quality modern accent for years to come.

As a matter of fact, I really need a new rug. Don't register, and I'll have a greater chance of winning!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Another find, this time via ApartmentTherapy:

Crispina is a company in Pittsfield, in western MA. Originally started in 1987 by Crispina ffrench (that's how their site spelled it) while she was a student at MassArt, the store had just one product, Ragamuffins, but it helped her graduate without any student loans. Since then, the company's line has grown to include blankets, rugs, pillows, and more. Being environmentally conscious from the start, all the products are made with recycled clothing - from old T-shirts to corduroys, denim jeans, and men’s dress shirts. I particularly like the Geo blanket, and the Potholder rug (above), which I couldn't find on their site, but is available from Romp in Brooklyn.


It figures that it takes the blogosphere for me to learn about a 7-year old, Boston-based, mid-century home furnishings site. The great ladies at Shelterrific let the world in on ModHaus, an online store that sells furniture, lighting, housewares, art, ceramics, jewelry, clothing and textiles from the '50s to the '70s. Their "inventory features a broad variety of vintage items with an emphasis on mid-century American and Scandinavian designs and period handcrafts." Some of my favorites from their current lineup include this fabulous Danish modern teak credenza (unfortunately sold); a Greta Grossman Grasshopper floor lamp; and this Danish teak coffee table. They also have a warehouse/showroom that you can visit, by appointment only. Angela from Shelterrific has bought a few pieces from ModHaus before, so be sure to mention her when you contact them.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Toy Car

Via Inhabitat, I found out about the H-Racer from Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, a toy car that runs off of hydrogen. The car is fueled through "a miniature solar-powered hydrogen refueling station that converts water to hydrogen using energy captured from the sun." The toy is getting a lot of attention in various media outlets as a front-runner to the supposedly oncoming rush of hydrogen automobiles. Priced at $80, this would make a great, battery-free Christmas present for your favorite car geek, young or old.

V2 Prefab on ABC Nightly News

mod*mom posted about V2 prefab, a modern prefab home designer and builder. They were recently featured on an ABC Nightly News article on "micro-homes" that are less than a third the size of the average house in the US. V2 makes some beautiful houses that are suited for a variety of scenarios, which they term "flat", "shell", "custom", "hotel", and "plus". I would love to get one of these, but they seem destined for a more suburban atmosphere than where I live. Maybe for my home in the White Mountains - I'm still mellowed out from last weekend up there!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fort Point Open Studios

Looking for something to do this weekend? Well head down to Fort Point, the intersection of downtown and South Boston (and New England's largest artists community), for Fort Point Open Studios 2006. Over 200 artists, ranging from painters and sculptors to book makers and ceramicists, are opening their doors for us. Studios will be open from noon to 4 PM on Saturday and Sunday - there was a "preview" today from 4 to 7, but we missed that now, didn't we?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

BM's Home & Garden

A week after I visited him at his store, I discovered Gary Ritacco's South End loft in the newest issue of Boston Magazine's Home & Garden. Bought as a bare shell, Gary & Michael Hunter hired architect William Ruhl to design a beautiful home with ingenious use of space: Translucent panels hide a work areal, a walk-in closet and storage drawers from the living area; built in brushed aluminum storage in the living area; and disappearing doors to close off the sleeping area, if needed. It's also decorated beautifully, with pieces from Phillippe Starck, Ligne Roset at Adesso, and B&B Italia from Montage. William Ruhl did so well with their home that Gary hired him to design Uniform, which I've already mentioned, is gorgeous.

Boston Magazine doesn't have the heftiest site around, so there is no link available. I don't have a scanner, or I would put up pictures from the magazine. I guess you're just going to have to pick up the fall issue of BM's Home & Garden and check it out for yourself.

If you need more reasons to pick it up, how about a house in Nantucket designed by Maryann Thompson Architects, or a Tuscan Villa in Lexington, or a Beacon Hill carriage house with a stunning elyptical staircase? I thought that might interest you. Now go check it out!

Marimekko in Cambridge

I've been a bad blogger. I went away over the long weekend, enjoying the peace and beautiful scenery of the White Mountains, came back, and have neglected my duties. I'm sorry.

To make up for it, let me introduce Marimekko, the classic Finnish textile and clothing design company. Of course, introductions may not be necessary, since Marimekko has a rich history, including clothing Jaqueline Kennedy during her husband's campaign to become President.

It was recently reported in the Boston Globe, and by Holly at Decor8 (and by Catherine, aka Scrappy Girl), that Marimekko is opening its first U.S. concept store in Cambridge. As mentioned in the Globe article, it makes since to have it in Cambridge, since that is where Marimekko designs were first sold in the U.S., at Design Research, a landmark home furnishings store.

The new Marimekko concept store, located at 350 Huron Ave in Cambridge, "sells fabric by the yard ($38-65) ranging from the classic poppy pattern to more restrained black and white designs, as well as comforters, towels, pillows, umbrellas, bags, kitchenware, bathrobes, and assorted gift items. It also sells women's clothing by contemporary Finnish designers."

I will definitely check it out and let you all know what I think. In a more timely manner next time, I promise.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I got home from Connecticut earlier this afternoon. Instead of staying inside and checking my email, I decided to enjoy the clear fall weather and head into the South End to check out a shop I've walked past several times, but never had the chance to stop in. Uniform is on Tremont Street, right next to DWR.

Gary Ritacco, the owner, was manning the counter as I walked in. He gave a friendly greeting as I entered, and allowed me to browse around as much as I please. The first thing I noticed was how well designed the place is; everything, from the layout to the materials used in building the store, was beautiful. And the clothes were amazing. Thinking of something to get me for Christmas? Get it here. The store "specializes in urban quality casual clothing and accessories that are fashion oriented, value driven, and utilitarian in nature," from brands like Spiewak, Victorinox (Swiss Army), Frietag, and Art of Shaving, among others.

The South End is such an amazing neighborhood, filled with shops, restaurants, theaters, and street after street of Brownstones, it's a great place to go and enjoy the weather. Uniform fits into the neighborhood perfectly.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kelinia de Paris

I'm working in Connecticut for the week. Yesterday evening, instead of slowly rotting away in the Howard Johnson in Darien, I hopped on a train and rode into New York. While boarding the train, I noticed a young woman struggling with her pocketbook, a shoulder bag, and two BIG suitcases. I, being the chivalrous man my mother raised me to be, helped her carry the bags onto the train.

Once we got into Grand Central Station, I helped her from the train to the sidewalk where she could catch a cab. Talking while walking, she told me her name was Katie, and that she lives in Paris. She's lived there for 6-1/2 years, where she's a fashion designer. She is half of Kelinia; her partner is Emma, who is a native to France. "Two designers, two languages and two different cultures brought together in the 'capital of fashion'".

Kelinia makes wonderful, airy, colorful clothing, but, like countless other young fashion houses, hasn't had the chance for a breakout moment just yet. Their clothes are currently available in three European countries and Japan, but is looking for an American distributor. Do you know anyone that can help them out?

Way to go Amber!

My girl Amber over at My Aim Is True was recently featured in an article in the Christian Science Monitor. Amber has a beautiful home in Norfolk, VA, filled with some gorgeous Mid-Century Modern pieces. The article talked about ApartmentTherapy and the 8-Week Cure that Maxwell runs twice a year. The new Cure just started today; check it out & get cured!

Goodbye Filene's, Hello Vornado

Today, Alicia, the "beautiful, spectacular young woman" referenced in my profile, tipped me off about a planned development project in Downtown Crossing.

Earlier this year, Filene's parent company was sold to Macy's parent company. As a result, every Filene's store either switched to a Macy's or closed. The original Filene's, in Downtown Crossing (and across the street from Macy's), has been shut down for a few months.

Recently, the entire block that Filene's was on was bought by Vornado Realty Trust for $100 million. They are planning on building a $620 million, 495-foot multi-use tower, replete with retail, office, a hotel, and condo units. Elkus-Manfredi Architects, the largest architecture firm in the city (where my girl Athalie works), is in charge of designing the building, and from the picture that was included in the Boston Globe article (above), it's quite impressive. (Here's a link to the Boston Herald article)

One of the earliest protests to the new development concerned the Filene's building, built in 1912, built in 1905. Last May, the building was designated as a local landmark, which then required that it be "substantially preserved." Elkus-Manfredi has incorporated much of the Filene's building, along with another 1905 building, into the design of the tower.

If all goes as planned, construction will start as early as next year. Along with other plans that are in the works, the skyline certainly will be transformed.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

ApartmentTherapy's Fall Colors Contest 2006

ApartmentTherapy and CB2 have teamed up for AT's 2nd annual Fall Colors contest. Throughout October, Maxwell (the man doesn't even take paternity leave!) and team will be posting photos of some of the most imaginitive examples of color application for the home. Oh, and there's still time to enter! For entry guidelines and links to all the entries so far, check out the contest page.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Upcoming Events at DWR

Every month, local DWR stores hold events which focus on various areas of design. In the next few weeks, both Boston area DWR stores will be hosting two exciting events.

Next Wednesday, 10/11, at DWR in Cambridge, Joel Turkel, an architect for Empyrean (he designed their Next House (pictured above)) and Associate Professor of Architecture at MIT, will give a presentation on modern prefab housing and the Dwell Homes project. RSVP at cambridge@dwr.com by October 9.

On Thursday, 10/19, DWR Boston hosts Poggenpohl. For 115 years, they have been the creators of some of the most amazing kitchen setups ever. RSVP at boston@dwr.com by October 18.

Both nights go from 7 to 9, and refreshments will be served at both. These events get crowded, so be sure to RSVP as early as you can.

design*sponge shop

As mentioned in other blogs, design*sponge has opened her own shop, appropriately named design*sponge shop. The shop is featuring "exclusive limited edition designs", and 10% of ad revenue will be donated to a different charity each month. Get shopping!