Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On the Scene :: MG+BW White Party

From the White House to the White Party,
Mitchell Gold has D
C covered

The 2010 White Party at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams proved to be a crowd-pleaser. White wine, champagne, and piña coladas greeted guests, who were also treated to white decadent desserts and the pièce de résistance, a white-chocolate fondue fountain. Spinning tunes was NYC diva, Lady Bunny, a vision in white. Even two white Audi's parked curbside added to the overall atmosphere. Amidst all the excitement we had a chance to meet up with the man himself, Mitchell Gold.

Earlier in the day Gold and Steve Hildebrand visited the White House to address the dangers of religion-based bigotry and the negative effects on LGBT individuals, their families, and friends, a topic dear to his heart, and the subject of his book CRISIS. "We told them that they need to be a part of ending it, not complacent to it," said Gold. As a long time advocate of equal rights for LGBT persons, Gold admits that while things are changing for the better, there's still more that needs to be done.

Gold's advocacy extends to other hot topics as well, including that of sustainability, though he admits that this is not a new concept for his company, a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. Gold recalls when he first learned of the harmful affects of many furniture components, such as foams containing CFCs and HCFCs. "I called Bob and said 'Our industry is one of the worst!'" Since that time Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams have worked to ensure that the products they create are as beautiful for the natural environment as they are for the built environment. "We've been practicing sustainability for 21 years."

It is this commitment to quality products and thoughtful design which Gold credits as helping them through the these tough economic times. Though he admits that they were hit by the economy like everyone else, Gold is certain that the worst is behind us, stating that business has been busy and increasing steadily since August. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams have opened several new stores recently, including their newest in Orange County, CA.

When asked about what's new on the horizon, Mitchell Gold urges us to standby for the new collection, set to roll out in August. Gold says that he sees home furnishings heading decidedly more modern. Neutral, natural upholstery with colorful accents reign, and the combination of white and gold is a trend we can expect to see more of (We hope this includes the combination of Mitchell Gold and White Parties!)

With our thoughts turned to summer, we conclude by asking Gold about his own personal summer travel plans, where upon we are delighted to hear that Gold and his partner Timothy Scofield, chief executive of the Washington-based Velvet Foundation, are set to marry this summer, which will be followed by a honeymoon in Italy. Talk about la dolce vita. Cheers to the happy couple!
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On a Roll :: Public Bikes

When the founder of DWR decides to start making bicycles, should we expect anything less than a stylish, comprehensively designed product? That's exactly what is delivered with PUBLIC BIKES, Rob Forbes' new company, which seeks to provide real city bikes to real city people.

With 6 bike offerings, most of which are equipped with fenders and chain-guards, these bikes are commuter friendly (even if the DC summers can be less than). And with their colorful finish options and reflective white tires, these bikes are sure to turn heads. Though currently you'll have to travel to NYC to test ride one, we're hopeful that we'll be seeing these locally soon! And for those of you already operating on peddle power, be sure to check out the sharp looking accessories and gear offered by the company as well.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams' last White Party (June '08) proved to be quite the event, complete with NYC glam queen Lady Bunny. So we're excited that it's time now for the 2010 MG+BW White Party, this Thursday Night! We'll be on hand to take it all in and report on the new offerings on hand and coming soon from the design duo.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coffee :: Filter

Being a bit of a self-proclaimed coffee aficionado, I'm always excited to find a new, neighborhood-oriented alternative to that chain with the mermaid-laden cups. One such great, urbancentric coffeehouse, Filter, just opened in DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood.

Before even stepping foot in the shop, designed by Heiserman Group, you will encounter one of the first eye-catching elements: The logo, which, with it's clever use of a coffee pot silhouette, is one of the better logo designs we've seen in some time. This logo appears again on the beautiful orange La Marzocco espresso machine, stamped on the cardboard cup sleeves, and on the brown ceramic mugs -- Yep, unlike other places, not all the coffee is automatically relegated to paper cups, meaning you have no excuse not to be kind to yourself and the environment by taking a moment to stop and smell the coffee beans and enjoy your java in the shop! While doing so you'll undoubtedly take note of the attractive combination of rough, aged surfaces, such as the exposed brick, concrete floors, and reclaimed wood wall panels, shelving, and banquette (recycled from old barn doors) and polished, modern accents, such as the lighting fixtures and simple furnishings.
All in all Filter's pleasing palette and relaxed atmosphere brilliantly complement owner Rasheed Jabr's philosophy of "bringing the attention back to the main ingredient... Coffee".

Filter features coffee roasted by Annapolis, MD's Caffe Pronto, baked goods from DC based Pollystyle, and Silver Tips teas out of Tarrytown, New York.
|Location and Hours|

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Room & Board Offer a Sneak Peak of DC Store

The Washington metro area's first Room & Board store is scheduled to open June 14th, but here's a first look, courtesy of Room & Board.

(click image to view larger)

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Million Dollar Listing

From time to time we here at DesignCult are afforded the opportunity to tour some unique properties. One such opportunity occurred recently when design firm Alter Urban invited us to tour one of their recent projects, referred to as the 'StageFront House', in the District's Van Ness neighborhood. The home, currently on the market for $6.5M, is a modern respite from the mostly traditional, suburban-like detached homes that surround it.

The design of the home began by considering the notions of privacy, as expressed through the formal stone block facade at the street and entry; and openness, expressed through the casual, free flowing spaces and airy interior courtyard. This courtyard, which results from the triangular arrangement of the 'L'-shaped main house and angled pool house, is bounded by living spaces that open onto this central space, visually linking the various parts of the house through dynamic vistas. In this respect, the home is very much like the courtyard homes prevalent in parts of Europe (as well as celebrated in the California Modern homes developed by Joseph Eichler), which are almost like mini medieval cities, with lively, public spaces within their outer walls. But beyond being the active center node of the house, the central, protected court, with its patio and swimming pool, also affords a generous amount of natural daylight to most of the interior spaces of the home, without sacrificing privacy.

It is also clear that entry and path were considered in the home's design, as openings in the stone facade offer glimpses into the spaces beyond. Entering the house, one first passes beyond the threshold of the stone wall, into an interstitial space to reach the front door. Then, once inside, the space opens up , with the living, dining, and kitchen spaces flowing together, with view out beyond the courtyard. From the front door, it is easy to take in just about all of the main floor's public space. The modern interiors feature ebonized floors, which are echoed in the dark stained cabinetry in the kitchen, which is completed with white, solid-surface counters, stainless steel appliances, and tile backsplash. Beyond the kitchen is the first of several utility spaces: a catering kitchen -slash- butler's pantry. To the left of the main living space is a powder room and a stair to the upper and lower floors, beyond which is a small wing containing two bedrooms and bathrooms.

The upstairs features the lavish masters suite, with its cavernous walk-in closet and spacious master bath, complete with free-standing stone tub. (I must admit I found myself mentally subdividing the huge home into condo units at one point!) And if all this is not enough, the lower level features the ultimate 'man cave': a loungey rec room, complete with bar, a workout room, and home theatre. Also found in the lower level is a cavernous multi-machine laundry room that might almost inspire one to do laundry -- maybe.

The vibrant interior design, the product of Ewing Noble Winn, enlivens the home with a boutique-like, South Beach flair. The various lighting elements, textures, and bold use of colors add warmth and visual interest throughout the home's many spaces. The manicured, geometric landscaping, designed by Thorne Rankin, completes the home's exterior spaces.

One thing that is clear both in looking at the home's details and talking to the architects, designers, and builder (Rosenthal Homes) is how well integrated the various aspects of the project are, a testament to their teamwork. (While the generous budget of the client certainly helped to produce a beautiful space, as we've seen before, budget alone does not spell success.) And in the end, the team has a work they can be quite proud of.

(Photo credits: Bob Narod)
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Monday, March 1, 2010

DDOT Rolls Out New Solar Powered Parking Meters

DDOT Director Gabe Klein introduces a new solar powered, coin and credit card accepting parking meter, part of a new pilot program. Other options being tested include a pay-by-phone program.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DC's West Elm to Shutter

We've just learned via DCist and Washington Business Journal that the DC location of West Elm will be closing in the next month. According to store manager Dion Barela, " This location was just not as successful as they’d hoped.” Citing less than estimated tax revenues, the closure appears to also be due in part to the weak economy. Sadly large furniture retailers and smaller shops as well have not always had such an easy time making it in the District. Brazilian furniture store Artefacto had a similarly brief presence in Georgetown, and back in Penn Quarter it has come to light that Apartment Zero has not only relocated, but shifted their focus away from retail sales. And while the Penn Quarter location may not be as ideal for residential shoppers as other locations (such as what is becoming a fairly solid home furnishings district along 14th and U Streets, NW) the aforementioned Artefacto was across the street from Georgetown's popular Cady's Alley. Certainly there is hope that this is not a sign of turmoil for other furniture retailers, especially as the DC area's first Room & Board is slatted to open on 14th Street this spring, weeks after the West Elm closure.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Urban Seen :: Pondering a Greener Bus Stop

So I was amused to come across this sight several weeks ago on my way to the metro: A Christmas tree sitting upright in a trashcan beside a Metrobus stop. Presumably this was simply someone's effort to discard of their left-over holiday conifer, but it gave me pause, as for a moment it appeared to be a planted shrub. This led me to thinking about the lack of green in this particular transit plaza, and furthermore to imagine the incorporation of plantings in concert with common urban elements, such as the humble bus stops.

Admittedly, the design of the DC Metrobus shelter has gotten more attractive over the last few years. The one pictured here is one of the few remaining of this kind that I've come across, many having been replaced by new glass and aluminum shelters, which feel much more open and less oppressive. But what if, beyond being more aesthetically pleasing, our bus shelters could be better for the environment as well. Imagine if these shelters incorporated planters which would collect rainwater from their roofs to water the plants and help reduce stormwater, which would otherwise end up on sidewalks and carrying debris into our sewer system. How about a sedum-sprouting greenroof? How wonderful if our bus stops could become a living oasis in our cities.

Some jurisdictions, including San Francisco and Chicago, are exploring sustainable solutions, such as solar powered bus shelters. Others are utilizing LED streetlamps (a topic which I'll explore further in a future post). The point, really, is for us to begin to reinvent common urban elements in such as way that they contribute to not only the built environment but to the natural environment as well. Imagine solar-powered streetlamps illuminating permeable sidewalks. Trash and recycling receptacles made themselves from recycled materials. Bike racks that integrate seating to encourage multiple forms of street life. Once we start thinking beyond the singular use of the ordinary objects that surround us, we'll realize countless ways in which these objects can become both more dynamic and more eco-friendly.

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