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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Marimekko Cambridge

This evening, while y'all were driving home from work, or to the mall to do a little Christmas shopping, I ventured into Cambridge to follow up on an earlier post and check out the the first Marimekko concept store in the U.S.

Man, the place is GORGEOUS! You'd never know that the site used to be a pharmacy. The store itself is a canvas of white walls and gray floors. This allows the product to stand out in a way unlike many other stores.

And the product... well, the store is stocked with a full line of men's, women's, and children's clothes, as well as linens, home and personal accessories and, for this season at least, hand blown Christmas ornaments. The women's clothes are a combination of mod and modern. One example was a plain black dress, with a shawl made of felted wool shaped into 3D blocks; the texture was incredible. The men's line is anchored by the classic Jokapoika shirt, a striped dress shirt with metal buttons that was originally released in the 50's.

Of course, the store was loaded with signature Marimekko fabric. There are so many options and colors to choose from, it's mind-numbing. I'm going to go back with Alicia to find just the right pattern to put up above out sofa. I'll be sure to put up photos when it happens.

350 Huron Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138

ps - A special thanks to Holly from decor8 for emailing me to ask if I'd been to Marimekko yet. You kicked me into gear!

DWR's (Cool) Stuff to Give

DWR's latest email campaign is portraying itself as where to find the cool stuff to give this holiday season. True, they have some amazingly cool items, but I don't think anyone is going to dig deep and surprise me with something as expensive as an Eames LCW (not that I would deny such a gift - hint, hint).

Although their Gifts page includes such extravagances as the $2,490 Cellula Chandelier, I believe their true aim is the more budget friendly items, like George Nelson's book, How To See ($29.95), the Eames House of Cards ($35), or the Films of Charles and Ray Eames ($80). I think either of these would make great gifts for the design fan in your life.

For those that aren't necessarily design fans, but appreciate well designed objects, perhaps they might like the Cristal Water Carafe by Marcel Wanders (on clearance for only $39.95), or the Eclipse Lamp ($98), or the Crystal Marquis Desktop Globe ($168).

Maybe I won't get a me-sized one, but I can always wish for a Vitra Miniature Eames LCW ($175).

December Arts & Crafts Markets

Someone's been doing her homework! Fresh back from two months in Europe (so jealous!), Holly at decor8 has posted a massive listing of arts & crafts markets in and around Boston and Providence. Whether it's art or home decor accessories, you're sure to find something. Impressive work. Thanks, Holly!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Curbly's Design Search

Ben Moore from Curbly has created an interesting Design Search using Google Co-op. Google Co-op allows website owners to use Google's web search capabilities in a context specific format, such as Ben did with design.

BTW, Curbly is a fantastic site, and by all means, join up!

ICA to Reopen

After extended construction delays, the Institute of Contemporary Art is set to open on December 10! The ICA, Boston's home for truly groundbreaking art, outgrew its previous home for the last 70 years on Boylston St, so they built the first new museum in Boston in nearly a century.

The new building is breathtaking. The galleries are on a cantilever that extends right to the edge of fan pier; when you're up against the windows, all you see is water. There are so many amazing design highlights about this building, I can't list them all.

In related ICA news, local designer and fellow skateboarder (well, I'm a former skateboarder) Nick Sherman announced that his sister, Kelly Sherman, is one of four finalists for the 2006 Foster/ICA Artist Prize. The show will be up from December 10 through March 11, and admission on the first day is free!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Decorating 2006

After scouring the Internet for the past few days, it seems clear that the design event season is over, at least until after the New Year. That's okay, because we all have so much to look forward to in the coming weeks!

Christmas ornaments and decorations seem to get more beautiful by the year. This year, the availability of gorgeous items spans the economic range, from the Tord Boontje series of Christmas dinnerware and accessories ($10.99-24.99) at Target, to this amazing Sterling silver globe ornament ($110) from Neiman Marcus. Alicia and I settled between those two extremes for our tree, with items like this great red coil ornament from Crate and Barrel and this mod circle ornament from Pier 1.

Of the four stores I was browsing around for ideas for this post, Hanukkah items are noticeably scarce from Pier 1. Target had a great variety of Hanukkah pieces, although none had the visual appeal of Tord Boontje's Christmas line. Neiman Markus offers about a dozen Hanukkah seasonal items, but none of them struck the fancy of this design snob. C&B has, by far, the best looking Hanukkah decorations, like this Column Menorah. And no, I'm not just saying that because I work there now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crate & Barrel for the Holidays

In my last post, I described BoConcept as "modern design at Crate & Barrel or Restoration Hardware prices". This is not to say that I look down on either Crate & Barrel or Restoration Hardware; it's just that they have a different style. Restoration Hardware is classical, and Crate & Barrel is contemporary. Of the two, I prefer Crate & Barrel.

Which is why I decided to apply to the Crate & Barrel on Boylston St. for the holidays. No, a blogger's life is not all party's and inside information; we have to work, too. Starting today through the middle of January, I will be working on the first floor, in housewares, helping frantic customers find just the right gift for that impossible-to-shop-for relative. Or something like that. Come by the store; maybe I'll be there!

777 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116

Follow-up: BoConcept® New Furniture Collection Launch Party

On Thursday, I went to the BoConcept® New Furniture Collection Launch Party at their store on Mass Ave in Cambridge. Right as I walked in, the store's general manager, Brad Dufton, immediately recognized me; the marketing coordinator forwarded a link to this blog to him, and he remembered the picture to the right (Yes, that is me).

We had actually met the first time Alicia & I checked out the store, but that was several months ago, before I started Design Boston. Brad, who organized the night and greeted nearly everyone that came by first name, is a fireball of energy, and, with a degree in furniture design from Wenworth Institute of Technology, he can surely help you create the right BoConcept setup for your home.

I also met Tina Pilgaard, BoConcept's US Marketing Director. She is a Danish native, and a wonderfully friendly woman. She's worked for BoConcept for 8 years, the last 2-1/2 in the US. Before she came to the US, Tina visited each of the 40 countries that BoConcept operates in. How much would I love a job that allows me to see the world and great furniture? You can't get that in the Navy!

I love BoConcept. As I described it to Brad and Tina, I see BoConcept as modern design at Crate & Barrel or Restoration Hardware prices. They both agreed. The beauty of their customizable, modular furniture was on full display in the showroom. As beautiful as the furniture, and maybe even more, was the Bang & Olufsen sound system throughout the space.

I had a great time. As I was leaving, Brad told me to come by often, because he and I are a rarity: straight guys that understand and love design. How true.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

557-559 East Second Street

I keep driving by this construction site on East 2nd Street in South Boston consisting of two buildings with a driveway or courtyard in the middle. It's only at the point in construction where the plywood walls are up, but it shows big expansive windows, and clean, modern lines. As in, my style.

One drawback of this site is that it is directly across the street from the Tools 4 Hire yard, a company that rents construction equipment. I'm not bothered by the industrial aspect of Southie, but I'm sure some people looking for the new, hip place to live would be.

Anyway, I'm browsing around MyBostonLoft today, and I see a link to 557-557 East Second St. One nice aspect of the building project is that the two buildings are not mirror images of each other: 557 has four three-story, 2 bedroom units with a patio off the third floor living/dining room area; 559 has four four-story, 2 bedroom units with a study and deck on the fourth floor. Every unit comes with a single car garage, something that is an extreme rarity around here.

Apparently, not only are they attractive, modern "loft-style" condos, but they are environmentally friendly. This is the pilot project of Green Homes Northeast, an organization "whose mission is to transform the residential building marketplace so that healthy, energy and resource-efficient homes become common practice." They are also aiming to earn an Energy Star® Home 5-star Rating. By using green building techniques, these buildings will provide improved energy efficiency (up to 30% lower energy bills); "thermal comfort" (double-paned, low-E windows, and spray foam insulation at all window and door edges); air quality (continuous ventilation and low or no off-gassing paints and sealants); and acoustic privacy (through improved insulation and other construction techniques on shared walls).

I'm not at a point to be able buy one, but at $529-$585K, it seems reasonably priced, considering the space, the amenities, and the environmentally friendly construction. As a buck to the trend of lower condo sales, two of the four units in 559 are already sold, so if you want a study and room deck, get going!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


One of the gifts I got at the Modern25 party was a Bodum Pavina. It's a 9 oz. cup with double glass walls. The double walls insulate both your drink - hot drinks stay hot, and cold drinks stay cold - and your hand. Because the insulation is so good, there is no need for a handle.

I used it for the first time last night. It insulates so well that I burned my lip on my tea - my hands felt like it was room temp. Since then I've washed and reused the cup three times!

The only drawback is that the mouth-blown glass is fragile, so it can't be machine washed. Also, it's more likely to break from unintended bumps than machine made glasses. That said, I would love to buy a whole set of these beautiful cups!

Mayor Announces New Boston Skyscraper Plan

Proposed Boston skyscraper planned for Winthrop SquareI read on the Boston Real Estate Blog that Mayor Menino announced what could be the biggest Boston area architecture news in years: a proposal for an enormous skyscraper in Winthrop Square. Trans National Properties' Chairman and CEO Steve Belkin proposed a tower with retail, restaurant, and commercial capabilities - mixed use seems to be the norm in most of Boston's new developments.

The numbers are astounding: Over 1,000 feet tall; 1.3 million square feet of commercial office space; 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space; and "55,000 square feet of public space, including a one acre 'Town Green' on the ground floor, complete with public art installations and integrated with retail uses, as well as a distinctive 'Lookout Garden' on the top of the building, providing visitors with a richly landscaped, publicly accessible observatory that is protected from the wind." (Source: City of Boston)

Belkin was the only bidder for the project. As was reported in the Boston Globe, Belkin "
was considered by many to be the one to beat because he owns a key adjacent property, 133 Federal St." If he gets the OK to go ahead, he would incorporate the space his current property occupies into the new building. Tricky guy.

The picture that I got from the city's website is a bit small, but from what I can tell, other than the spectacular height (which could exceed the John Hancock tower), the building isn't that exciting to look at. I would hope that a building "saying that people are bullish on Boston and what this city can accomplish going forward" would be a bit more daring. Maybe I'll be surprised when more renderings are released.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

20th Annual Boston Can Share Food Drive

Yeah, I know, it's not design, but it's for a good cause: The 20th Annual Boston Can Share Food Drive. The city, along with FedEx, has placed a trailer in Government Center to collect cans of food. All donations will go to the Greater Boston Food Bank. They're hoping everyone working in the shops and offices downtown "will respond to this appeal and bring canned goods to City Hall Plaza on their lunch or coffee breaks". The city's goal for this week is an astonishing 20,000 lbs of food, so get down to Government Center with some cans!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Design-Milk tipped me off to Curbly, which recently launched. Basically, Curbly is MySpace for home improvement addicts. "By connecting with others, sharing your experiences, participating in feel-good contests, and getting advice from experts, Curbly is the best community to help you feel good about your place."

Whether you're looking for How-To's, Inspiration, or News, Curbly's got it. It doesn't matter if you're just starting out or a veteran DIY'r; Curbly let's you share, ask, and help others that are interested in the same thing as you - improving their home and making it beautiful.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

mod*mom on HGTV

The most recent HGTV Decorating Newsletter featured "11 Ways to Create a Modern Nursery", and mod*mom, an obviously qualified source, was quoted in two of the steps, "7. Keep it child-centered" and "10. Don't blow the budget".

Way to go mod*mom!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Design 2.0 at Vessel

Wow, can I ever stop talking about Vessel? I guess not, since I keep finding great things about them. Next week, Vessel will be hosting Core77's "Design 2.0: Discussions on Design Strategy & Innovation". It's a one day panel discussion open to design professionals and students "on the opportunities and imperatives ahead."

As products and systems become smarter and more technologically imbued, the mandate of the designer is thrown into question. If we can make anything, what should we make? And if all of our activities have consequences — environmental, economic and social — what are the opportunities for moving positively into the future? How can we balance serving interests with setting agendas? Join us for a panel discussion on the front lines.

Design 2.0 is going to be held Wednesday, November 15, from 1:00 to 4:30, with a cocktail reception following. The panelists will include MIT Media Lab's John Maeda; Natalie Jeremijenko from UCSD and NYU; Bill Cockayne of Change Research, Inc.; and GreenBlue's Jason Pearson. Tickets are $175 (only $50 for students, but they're sold out). Vessel is at 125 Kensington St. in downtown Boston.

Boston Appliance

When it comes to buying home appliances, where can you go other than Best Buy and Circuit City? If you're anything like me, you want to spend your money somewhere other than the corporate behemoths, with their limited selection and often less than stellar customer service.

Boston Appliance is a local, family-owned appliance store, located on Summer St. in South Boston. I've gone in there a couple times since I moved to Southie (they're only a block away from me) and had chances to talk to two of their salesmen, Ken Petrillo and Christian Jason. Christian's family owns the company, and recently moved it from downtown Boston to their current location on Summer St. Both of them have been more than willing to talk to me, even though I told them I rented (and therefore was not about to spend money on appliances).

Boston Appliance sells ranges, ovens, refrigerators and anything else you could think of for your kitchen from everyone from Amana to Sub Zero, or as I said to Christian, "from every I want to everything I can afford". They have a beautiful, open showroom, although Christian told me they are rearranging the space to make room for a bigger display of islands. They have a pretty basic website, but I'm told that plans to upgrade it are in the works.

Boston Appliance is located at 840 Summer St, South Boston, MA. Their hours of operation are Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00, and Saturdays 9:00-1:00.

Friday, November 10, 2006

BoConcept® New Furniture Collection Launch Party

I mentioned earlier that BoConcept has release a new collection, and a new catalog. To celebrate, BoConcept is having a celebration next Thursday, November 16. Here's the announcement that was emailed to me:


BoConcept® New Furniture Collection Launch Party
Thursday November 16, 2006
6.00 - 8.30pm
999 Mass. Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
T. 617 588 7777

Join the launch party for our brand new design collection. Enjoy drinks and finger food as you get acquainted with our exciting new product line.

At BoConcept® you'll find an ocean of possibilities and inspiration for your home.

We are fond of the word value - we don't believe you should have to compromise your style or your budget.

That's why we specialize in the latest looks at affordable prices.

The BoConcept® collection is assembled with a focus on function, flexibility and comfort.

Visit our website www.boconcept.com for more information.

Adam in Somerville makes AT finals

As I mentioned, ApartmentTherapy has been running the second annual Falls Colors Contest. 60 entries each for the three AT Cities - NY, SF, LA, and Chicago - gave you a chance to see some good, some great, and some "Ohmahgawd! Who would ever do that?!" examples of people's use of color. One entry that proved good enough to be the first finalist announced was Adam's Kaleidoscope, from right here in greater Boston - Somerville, actually. Adam shows great use of color, an obvious Eames fetish, and best of all, as he said in the comments for his finalist entry, he did it on a limited budget. Now it's up to AT's judges to decide if his entry is worthy of winning a $2500 CB2 shop card. Good luck Adam!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Follow-up: Pret-a-Habiter at DWR

Last night, my friend Athalie and I went to DWR in Cambridge to check out what Pret-a-Habiter was all about. Carl Bradford Sibolt, the Founder and Executive Director of Pret-a-Habiter, greeted us at the door, and was amazingly friendly for someone from NYC (it turns out he grew up in Switzerland and NH - check out the website). The audience was light: There were only about 8 people there due to the miserable rain. Once we put away our umbrellas and got seated, Carl gave a brief overview of the company and its history, and also mentioned they got a write up in the Boston Herald.

Pret-a-Habiter, French for "ready to live", is trying to take interior design out of the realm of the super wealthy and bring it within the reach of average people. They have developed a four-step process to decorate a home - Design Style; Design Plan; Design Select; and Design Implement - that would take a client all the way from deciding what their style is and creating a design, to buying any pieces and insuring everything installed the right way.

Carl said that all of this could be done in as little as 30 days. Pricing can be quite affordable; they work off a flat fee with no hidden costs or markups on products. If you want a sofa from a to-the-industry-only store, you will get it for the same price the designer gets (typically, an interior designer will mark up anything you order through them). According to their website, Pret-a-Habiter's average Design Fee is $2000-3000 per room, depending on the size and scope of the project.

After Carl finished speaking, he introduced the two designers for the Boston area. Michael Samra is the Director of the Boston office, and Elissa M. Henebry is the Interior Designer. We got a chance to speak to all three, and they are all very friendly, knowledgeable people.

I am quite impressed. If you are looking for a designer, or maybe just an outside perspective on your project, I would recommend giving Pret-a-Habiter a call.

Brownfields 2006

A "brownfield site" is "real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

Reuse and redevelopment of these abandoned, idled or underutilized industrial and commercial sites is both a challenge and an opportunity. Putting these sites back into productive use can serve as a catalyst for local economic revitalization. Complex financial, legal and environmental risks and uncertainties are some of the biggest barriers to owners and developers."

Polluted or contaminated land can be an expense and a liability for the land's owner.
Brownfields2006, being held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center from November 13-15, will explore how to change that land from a liability for one group "to an asset and prime development or reuse opportunity for another."

There's an electrical plant that is largely shut down at the bottom of my street, and an old Coastal Oil plant is down the street from that. I look forward to seeing these areas cleaned up and developed.

The BCEC is located at 415 Summer Street, in South Boston's Waterfront District.

"Meet the Press" @ Build Boston

Build Boston is the city's annual "convention and tradeshow for design, building, and management professionals", featuring over 350 exhibits and over 225 workshops and other professional development opportunities. On Nov. 14, its opening day, there is going to be a "Meet the Press" event, featuring editors from numerous publications, including Metropolis editor in chief Susan S. Szenazy, where attending firms can gain "an up-to-date awareness of the opportunities, the editors, and the issues involved."

Build Boston will be held from November 14 - 16 at the Seaport World Trade Center.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pret-a-Habiter at DWR

Tomorrow night, DWR on Mass Ave. in Cambridge will be hosting an interesting guest. DWR has a great write-up (plus I'm not feeling very creative), so I'm copying it:

Are you in need of modern interior design solutions for your home? Join us at DWR as we host an event for Pret-a-Habiter to celebrate the launch of their new Boston office. Pret-a-Habiter will demonstrate an easy, time-efficient approach to interior decorating and design through their Four-Step design process. A growing business, Pret-a-Habiter aims to share their new ideas and inspiration on modern residential interiors. The "Pret" designers will be offering free design consultations to the event attendees, using Design Within Reach products to provide design solutions. Please join us as we welcome Pret-a Habiter to the Boston community. Refreshments will be served.

RSVP to cambridge@dwr.com by November 7.

Pret-a-Habiter at DWR
Wednesday, November 8, 7:00-9pm
DWR Cambridge Studio
1030 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Directions: www.dwr.com/cambridge.cfm

Wears + Wares

Have you ever loved that new whatever-it-is you bought, only to find a dozen other people with the same thing? Well, Alicia tipped me off to a new "young designer's market" opening in Downtown Crossing that will give you your fill of few-of-a-kinds. Wears + Wares was created by "Boston area designers seeking a regular market venue for selling and promoting their wares." The markets will offer everything from furniture and fashion to housewares, paper goods, textiles, jewelry and accessories, all from some of the most up-and-coming designers in Boston.

Wears + Wares will hold five pre-holiday markets: November 11 and 18, and December 2, 9 and 16, from 11:00 to 5:00. Next March, they will begin holding the markets on a weekly basis. Wears + Wares is located in the lobby of 101 Arch Street, but watch it, because the entrance is on Summer St.


The owners of Turtle, the "emerging urban design" boutique in the South End, have done it again, only on a smaller scale. Tadpole, a "modern boutique for little urbanites", offers kids' furniture and clothing, maternity wear, books and family events.

Tadpole is located at 37 Clarendon Street in the South End. They are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10-6; and Saturday, 12-5. They can be reached at 617-778-1788.

Monday, November 06, 2006

N55 at The Center for Advanced Visual Studies

Another tip from Ben Durrell: the Danish artists' group N55 will be coming to MIT as part of a new series hosted by the university's Interrogative Design Group. "Art and functionality, personal utopias, and the possibility of self-sufficiency are some of the themes that surface in their simple, paradigmatic, and mostly mobile tools and situations for everyday living: a workplace, a modular boat, a shop, a factory, a clean air machine, a commune, and more." N55 will be at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT on Wednesday, November 13.

While you're there, be sure to check out Design By +/-, Ben Durrell and his partner Matthew Christensen's gallery, in the front of the CAVS.

Ben, thanks for the tips! Be sure to keep them coming!

"A Yankee Amendment" @ Vessel

A while ago I posted about Vessel, the fresh product design firm and gallery that reopened downtown. Ben Durrell, a local furniture designer, tipped me off about "A Yankee Amendment", a set of his work, that is currently showing at Vessel. He also gave me a link to the flickr set of his work.

"A Yankee Amendment" takes a look at what it is to be a Yankee. "Each piece highlights what I consider a Yankee outlook on life: hard work and dedication to task breeds clean souls and healthy homes." "Lobster Trap", above, is "a halfway point on the way to the dumpster", where you can put those things that you don't need, but can't seem to let go of. I'm sure if you look around your house, you can relate to the idea that is being presented here.

"A Yankee Amendment" is showing at Vessel through November 22. Vessel is located at 125 Kingston St. in downtown Boston.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

DWR Warehouse Sale next weekend

If you've been holding out, saving for that perfect modern piece of furniture, you're in luck. DWR is hosting a Warehouse Sale next weekend, November 11 and 12. Pricing on overstocked items, seconds and samples will be cut dramatically - some as low as 75% off! Now that's "Design Within Reach". DWR has 3 warehouse locations: San Francisco, Cincinnati, and New York. What's a 3-1/2 hour drive for some sweet decor, right?

A Chestnut Hill home in NYT's Home & Garden

Today's New York Time's Home & Garden section featured a story on a local modern home. Molly Schaffer and her husband, Jeffrey Wallen, bought the Barnet Yanofsky house, built in Chestnut Hill in 1957 and designed by famed modern architect Paul Rudolph. This is one of only three Paul Rudolph houses in New England, one of which is set to be demolished this winter.

Over the last eight or so years, the pair have restored the house to it's original splendor. They have made a few modifications to the original design, such as pitching the flat roof for water drainage; enclosing the more Florida-friendly car ports; and replacing the vinyl floors with bamboo (because the original vinyl wasn't available anymore). Beyond that, the house is as it was in 1957, right down to the vintage Western-Holly wall oven!

Far too often, people are willing to throw money at a house to make it fit whatever trend is in at the time. I applaud the owners' attempt to respect and maintain the architect's original vision of the house.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Elsewares' Wee Ninja

I love decor8. Holly posts some of the best finds. Yesterday, she let us know about Elsewares, purveyors of "independent art & design". Amongst the items she featured was the Wee Ninja, a plush "action figure" handmade in Chicago. Proving not only an eye for design, but also for comedy, Elsewares has just about the best write up ever:

Wee Ninjas spend most days training, and most nights ninjaing! When not ninjaing, they can be found perfecting the art of the Stealth Hug and other ultra-secret moves, such as the Sneak Snuggle and the Fists of Tickle Fury. It is quite rare to find Wee Ninjas outside of their native and peaceful Ninjatown, but they adapt well to fun and loving homes. Ultra-secret moves only used for good, of course.

If you're thinking of things to get me for Christmas, this would be perfect!

TrueModern Twin Bed

Design Public announced the launch of a new series to their awesome lineup of modern furniture. Husband and wife designers Edgar and Julia Blazona started TrueModern, a group of modern kids' furniture and bedding hip enough to get ModMom's attention.

TrueModern's bedding has some great color combinations: blue and lime, and pink and orange (they also have the more mundane brown, and pink). They have matching sheets; quilts and shams; and duvets.

They also have very nicely designed dressers, a nightstand, and a bookcase, but my favorite piece is the twin bed. A platform bed set 9-inches off the ground with some very mod wood legs, this would look great in my son's room (too bad they don't have a bunk bed version).