Monday, October 30, 2006

Trick or Treat: Local Furniture Finds

From the never-ending postings on Craigslist comes the Hallowe'en edition of furnishing findings. You decide if it's a trick or a treat.

Tan leather chair, $60

Retro side table, $40

Danish Inspirations gray couch, $1800

Cool tiger-striped designer bench, $125

Eurway Wassily-style chair, $125

Highly graphic couch, $100

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cantoni Modern Furniture

With the Partners Card in hand, "the world's finest original contemporary collections" just got 20% more affordable for the next week. The giant (30,000 square foot) North Dallas showroom features scene after scene of modern, serene, and comfortable arrangements. Selections include American Leather, Dellarobbia (whose two-piece Yasmin sectional pictured below, is very tempting), and Artek. A staff of sales and design consultants is available to assist, but I was able to wander the store for fifteen minutes without an officious intrusion.

Cantoni began in Dallas in 1984 and has expanded to five stores (also in Houston, Atlanta, Irvine, Los Angeles) and an outlet center around the corner from the showroom. The outlet features a mixture of floor sample chairs, bedrooms, lighting, and accessories, often 40% or more off the showroom price. If you're in love with the Menlo Park or Astoria sectionals, however, be sure to check out the American Leather outlet before you break out the AmEx...there might be a better deal!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lucellino table lamp

Thanks to Joel at Blue Ant Studio, I now know that Ingo Maurer has a table version of his spectacular lamp design. Unica Home (one of my fave online modern design sources) describes it as a
"whimsical lamp derives its name from the italian words luce ("light") and uccellino ("little bird")...available in wall sconce or table lamp versions. the lucellino is made of glass, brass, plastic and hand-crafted goose feather wings, these lamps also have a touch-tronic feature which allows for on/off and dimmer control with the mere touch of the brass wire stem. a 50 watt non-halogen bulb as well as a spare bulb are supplied. free shipping in the continental united states.

german born artist and light objects designer, ingo maurer has been the recipient of many design awards and his work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including the centre georges pompidou, the fondation cartier in paris, the stedelijk museum in amsterdam and the museum of modern art in new york. considered an outsider with rare artistic style, ingo maurer adds provocation and fun to the world of design."
The table version is $650 at MossOnline, and $660 at Y Lighting. For those with slightly bigger tastes and budgets, the Birdie chandelier ($2088 at Unica) and its big-brother birds birds birds ($5423) are fabulous!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dragon Street Sip and Stroll

Looking for another shot of Design District ambiance? The Dragon Street Association of shops, galleries, and showrooms will give October's Slocom Street Style event a run for its buck. The event, hosted by and Modern Luxury Dallas magazine, will feature works from over fifteen artists in addition to ongoing exhibitions at various galleries.

"Tour 24 of the hottest art, antique and design showrooms in Dallas while sipping Spanish wine from Freixenet and Osborne. Look Good! Strike HD will be on hand creating a documentary of the event in high-definition video. A portion of the evening's sales will benefit the Meadows Museum and the Dallas Architecture Forum"
Twenty-five nationally- and locally-created Art Bulls for Charity wil be featured along the street, which will be closed to traffic to allow for better sauntering and exploation. The bulls are embellished by a mixture of celebrities and local artists, and the sale of the locally-created bulls (here's an example from Sara Hickman) and other commemorative pieces benefits the North Texas Food Bank and Share our Strength. The Art Bulls fundraiser is a venture of the wine and spirits company Gruop Osborne, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of their black bull logo.

The Sip & Stroll is Friday, November 3rd, 6-9pm.
Al*so gallery, 1425 Dragon St, Dallas 214-744-0173

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Furniture Clearances

It's not that I want to be a harbinger of bad or sobering news....
Courtesy of Shopping Buzz, news that DL Lifestyle, at Travis Walk (near Knox and McKinney in Uptown) is closing their store. Everything is reduced; some items are marked down 70%. Storehouse Furniture continues its liquidation. Bedding is 40% off, and most everything else is now 20% off. The Inwood Village store promises that new stock arrives daily from the warehouse.

For more upbeat discounts (at places that seem to be still in business), look to Eurway, which offers 20% off most things until November 30th with presentation of a EurClub card (found in their most recent catalog mailer), or Natuzzi, which offers 15% and free local delivery through October 31st.

As I've mentioned before, several local furniture stores (pdf list) are participating in the Partners Card benefit for Family Place, which extends a 20% discount between October 28th and November 5th.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

North Oak Cliff: Trinity Townhomes

North Oak Cliff has seen an increase in modern design projects like Kessler Woods in the past few years. Several recently announced projects (lofts, townhomes, retail) are adding to the area's infill development along a path between Bishop Arts district and the Trinity River.

One of the first projects in the corridor of the Trinity River Project (see previous post) is Trinity Townhomes, sited along the Trinty's southern levee between the I-30 and I-35 bridges, within a mile of the Bishop Arts district and just down the hill from Lake Cliff Tower. The twenty-four "understated contemporary" three-story townhouses have a modern aesthetic that integrates natural elements and a variety of textural finishes. Views of downtown and the Trinity basin are a focus of all units; the townhouses along the levee have downtown views from all floors, the interior units from roof decks. The exterior incorporates numerous windows and skylights, cedar-finished garage doors, and metal and stucco siding. Inside, clean lines, soaring ceilings, and bamboo hardwoods tickle modern tastes.
The project, marketed exclusively by David Griffin, is already 70% sold. Prices range from $335K to $449K for remaining townhomes. The first units are scheduled to be completed within the next month, and Phase II will be ready in the spring.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

West Elm Unveiled

I finally made it to Mockingbird Station to check out West Elm's new store, which has been open four days. The store is the 20th one in the chain and the largest. Its size and its large warehouse permits you to purchase and take home anything from the store immediately. The large size also allows the store to carry more inventory than other locations including otherwise catalog- and internet-only items and to debut new designs unavailable elsewhere.

When you enter, you are at the top of a hardwood stairway, and the perch gives you an overlook on the entire store. The first of many enthusiastic employees greets you as you move down the stairs and into a sequence of furnished vignettes. Trance/electronica mmmmm-shahs in the background and the lighting cascades softly down from the very high ceiling. It feels like you've just intruded into the loft of a hip, tchotchky-loving couple. The arrangement draws you fluidly from room to room, offering stylish bedroom groups, sectionals and dining rooms. A few transition rooms feature tableware, lighting, and storage solutions. Rugs and draperies are nestled toward the store's back end.

One featured group, this gray cloth couch with chairs, is new to the chain, and the sales associate boasted that it was manufactured in the same place as some of Restoration Hardware's furnishings: Mitchell Gold. The group's clean lines were attractive, and the firm back was still comfortable. The sofa was $999.

One of the best advantages of being at the store was the chance to sit-test all the catalog items. This sectional is featured online and in the catalog, and its sleek, compact look is very attractive. In person, the color and finish of the fabric is very nice (another advantage to seeing it in person). It's a comfortable sit on foamy cushions, but the back is very low, and I can't imagine the same comfort during a prolonged lounge, even with the additional throw pillows. Opening cabinets helped with testing hinges and checking out the materials. Good to know before ordering.

Several items are already on sale: there's a feature offer of 30% off all wall shelving, and a nice wood screen was $100 off. While there were some tempting items, I've decided to wait until the Partner's Card discount weekend to get an additional 20% off.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Even More Local Furniture Finds

Consider softening hard-line modern with a few unexpected antiques. The blend, a mix of periods and materials, will draw more visual interest than religious devotion to a single unified look.

Anchor your seating with a MCM sofa with multi-position adjustable arms (needs recovering to make it a versatile star)

Add a cool and edgy Cantoni chrome and glass coffee table

Mix up your sense of scale with a kiddie-sized Knoll Bertoia chair (provenance undocumented)

Then perhaps blend in some texture with this rustic wooden table

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Storehouse Furniture Closing

There's not much explanation on the website, just an announcement:

Storehouse Furniture, known for its mid-price upscale modern/contemporary furnishings, will be closing all seventy of its locations nationwide in the next few weeks. Discounts now are 15% to 30%, but will likely increase until the $60 million inventory is gone. The closing is part of a bankruptcy liquidation of the chain as its parent, The Rowe Companies, undegoes Chapter 11 reorganization. When efforts to sell the chain failed, the remaining option was liquidiation to generate some cash (news article1, article2). For Dallasites, this means a few good deals at the Inwood Village and Galleria locations before bidding adieu to stores. Good thing that West Elm is waiting in the wings...the Mockingbird Station's grand opening is October 18th.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lakewood's 'Curiosities'

Tonight was the grand opening reception for Curiosities, a gallery/shop on Abrams featuring a mixture of furnishings, furnishings, and accessories that recall your grandmother's attic mixed with an eccentric wunderkammer. Old carnival signs are juxtaposed with dried starfish and corals. Weathered croquet balls and a squadron of glass and ceramic penguin figurines offset vintage lingerie, vintage jewelry, and African masks. While thin on sleek, modern lines, the unique offereings are the sorts of details that make a room at risk of being antiseptic more personal. Jason Cohen (founder of the Forbidden Gallery) and mother Terry Cohen partnered in recruiting a host of antique dealers in order to assemble such a fabulous mixture. The Dallas Observer calls the venture "an express route to that one-in-a-million flea-market find you've been looking for. The Lakewood shop also includes a gallery dedicated to vintage folk art, found art and photography. It's like Crispin Glover's wet dream, only smarter."

Trinity River Development plans

The Trinity River Project has stirred up enough controversy--especially on the subjects of the riverside freeway and the expense of three Calatrava signature bridges--to occupy its own full-time blog. The aims of the $1.2 billion project include erection of the new bridge crossings at I-30, I-35 and Woodall Rodger Freeway, development of a combination of parks and wetlands in the basin, improved flood water management mechanisms, a nature center, hiking and biking trails, an equestrian center, and a new tollway. One of the anticipated benefits of the overhaul of the Trinity River basin is increased development on both sides of the levees. A special article in D Magazine last year outlined the significant expectations linked to the project.
"This project is a life-changing event for the City of Dallas," says Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley, who chairs the Council's Trinity River Committee. "We're taking what is a drainage ditch that moves our storm water, our sanitary sewer, our electric, our gas, and making it into an amenity that improves our safety and connects us back to Oak Cliff and West Dallas. If you do it right, 20 years from today people will look back and say, 'Gosh, this really did change Dallas."'
Already Oak Cliff has seen the opening of the well-received Belmont Hotel, an influx of restaurants and new boutiques into the Bishop Arts district. New projects offering a mix of residential and commercial spaces have been announced near Methodist Hospital. Two of the first new wave developments are now nearing completion: the Lake Cliff Tower condominiums and the Trinity Townhomes. Both boast upscale modern aesthetics and are sited close to the action with downtown views to kill for.

Friday, October 06, 2006

American Leather Outlet

Cruising on Craigslist that helped me find this outlet. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this place before today! American Leather, based in Dallas, produces beautiful furniture which is sold at Cantoni and the formerly fabulous (now closed) Urban Home. In addition, AL manufactures private label pieces for Design within Reach, Room and Board, and Crate and Barrel. Rated as one of D Magazine's "Best of" picks back in 2004, the outlet store in Grand Prarie (map) features an inventory of overstocks, production samples, and customer returns. Quality varies from excellent (photo shoot or cancelled orders) to good. They occasionally place listings on Craigslist, and if you mention the site, you'll get an extra 10% off the purchase. Some selections today included a sage green Menlo Park four-piece sectional that retails for $11K for around $4K and a brown Hahn sofa that retails for $1600 at R&B for $999. Rick Lee's Odyssey recliner in dusty green leather was marked down to $650, a steal compared with the $1700 price online. Most pieces were in very good condition; I noticed only a few scuffs on the side of a cream microfiber sectional. Each item's price is marked down every month until sold. Colors and selection are limited, but the stock replenishes often, particularly around the time of furniture market shows. If you need a matching piece, one can be custom built for a price just over wholesale and takes about four weeks. Transporting your great finds is up to your own arrangement. The store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Visit the Rachofsky House (for charity)

Modern art and design pieces for a good cause? A special "in" to see a famous Dallas modern home? It's time for the next installment of the Two by Two benefit and auction! Since its inception, the event has raised over $10 million. Two by Two is holding its eight-annual fundraiser for amfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art. The gala weekend of events is one of the DFW area's largest AIDS research charitable events. The auction features art and design pieces from a mixture of notorious artists. A fulLed off with an invitation-only preview party on Tuesday October 24th, the week proceeds through to Thursday's First Look, a "fashion forward, music filled and culinary delightful evening." Both events take place in the Rachofsky House, known to most as the eye-catching modern Richard Meier edifice on Preston Road. The $150 per ticket black tie event (tickets still available) features entertainment and the first opportunity to bid on silent auction pieces. There's also an after party at Ghost Bar at the W. The (sold-out) dinner benefit and auction is held on Saturday night. If you'd rather just visit the house, tours are given by appointment on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Or you could keep rubbernecking while driving down Preston.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Name-Brand Modern: Now or Over?

I'm all in favor of pushing the envelope, and in previous posts I've admired IKEA and Target for bringing modern design aesthetics to a wider population in a more approachable, less risky way. At the extreme of this, however, is the pre-packaging of acclaimed, agreed-upon tasteful designs into a plug-and-play "lifestyle" home. Buyers are attracted to the familiarity of a brand that they may have previously encountered in furniture, merchandise, pre-cooked gourmet meals, and fashion. But ready-made options are a convenience and not a personal expression. In the luxury market, it's becoming an increasingly expensive convenience. In the Vanity Fair Roundtable, A.A. Gill recently called New York's "high concept" condo developments marketed to the super rich antiseptically-clean "marvels of sterility". They are all haute design and no home, an "architectural catwalk" where a dwelling is as signature as someone's shoes, but it doesn't reveal their heart. Like home-style mashed potatoes in a plastic take-out tub, the comfort of these homes is encased in artificiality. The buildings generally involve large swaths of steel-supported glass, "bendy-glass-and-steel erections, with their tacky design features worn like second wives' engagement rings". I don't think Mr. Gill missed the double-meaning of the prestige that comes with occupying a signature project. Not to mention taking advantage of the building's life coach, personal training, and concierege services.

Previously intrigued with developing hotels, Ian Schrager developed plans for 40 Bond Street, where the style and theme are modern, modern, modern. 20 Pine Street The Collection (I don't kid, that's the full name) features Armani/Casa-styled interiors to provide "a couture concept in lifestyle living." What is lifestyle living? VF answers: a transitory fashion choice, a glass-fronted box where one stores one's "unexplored, unused life." Ian Schrager says, "Lifestyle is the way a person distinguishes himself or herself. It is the artistry of living....The home is the ultimate expression of lifestyle." Funny, I thought 'lifestyle' referred to sullen Goth chicks or those back-page Observer ads. Does this pre-designed lifestyle truly express the condo's occupant? Or is it just one more prop of a characatured "life"? For most folks, living creates the style, not vice-versa. While how I dress and where I live reveal something about me, how about judging me by my actions, not my sectional (even if it is a very sleek and modern art piece). Stylistic choices of expression, yes. Living a style, no thanks.

Starchitect projects are not unique to New York, either. In Dallas, there is an epidemic of high-style, luxury high rises afoot in Uptown, with Philippe Starck's House by Starck and Yoo in the Victory Project leading the name-brand cache. While the W residences, One Arts Plaza, the Azure, and the Ritz-Carlton are selling well, other planned projects (namely Maple Terraces) have been put on hold due to lack-luster sales. In New York some "starchitected" projects' offerings are moving slowly, say Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal, blaming the recent market downturn and the changing of the guard that accompanies the moving-target of of-the-moment taste and edginess. As constructions costs have risen, the investor market has shrunk, leaving luxury-quality projects to compete over fewer buyers. Don't get me started (yet) on Dallas' own Calatrava bridges.

Not to fear though, the image-seekers are still searching for the perfect statement. In the meantime, I'm going to stick with picking out stylish pieces that I like--with or without the pedigree or the price tag. And I intend on living first, and wearing Armani only if that's what's called for.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lula B's

Wedged into a block of restaurants and bars on Lower Greenville avenue is a captivating antique mall that the Dallas Observer called the "best scavenger hunt" in 2003. Lula B's Antique Mall is known for its eccentric mix of mid-century modern and other furnishings, housewares and vintage clothing. Wandering among the rooms' furnished scenes and smaller stall presents a wide selection of pieces and decorative accesories. Some pieces have been revamped and updated, but others are original, requiring varying amounts of love before being incorporated into a home. Most items are fairly affordable. To get an idea of the offerings, some items are cross-listed on Craigslist. The selection changes often, but a 60-day layaway is available if you need to think it over.