July 25, 2010

A Fabric Store You'll Bolt to.

A few posts ago I introduced you to the Xanadu Gallery in San Francisco. Well, after I was finished browsing at the art and artifacts, I stepped out and saw a sign that said fabric store. Intrigued I went inside. What I did was enter through the back entrance of Britex fabrics.
Britex is a fabric store like no other. I have been to showrooms after showrooms, but this four-store store was amazing. Bolts and Bolts of quality, fantastic fabrics. Upholstery, drapery and, yes, suit fabric. You can even find Emilio Pucci fabric there on occasion as well as other silks.

I found a gorgeous textured polyester in lizard that you'd swear was the real thing. I'm planning on making a huge pillow or covering a small bench with it in the future.

Floor one: Library ladders allow you to view and select from the full 120-foot long wall of stacked bolts of their couture fabrics. Middle tables hold the silks.
Floor two: Cottons such as Japanese indigos, Liberty of London, Calicos, linens, polyesters, knits and velvet. Upholstery fabrics are here as well.

Floor three: You'll find 40,000 different styles of trim, buttons, rhinestones and new and vintage ribbon. It's so extensive they even have a separate online source for that. Click here to see.

Floor four: The bargain area. Up to three yards per remnant. All types.

So after about an hour or so looking, searching and buying... and making sure I got the name of the sales guy to help me with future purchases... I called it quits realizing they were closing. Another wonderful day of San Francisco. What would tomorrow bring? Museums... watch out for future posts.

Extra! Extra! Extra-ordinary design for the Post Dispatch... on a budget...

[Conference room 1 before]
Note: All photos by John L. White and Elie Gardner of the Post Dispatch.

[Conference room 1 after]

When Aisha Sultan of the Post Dispatch asked me to help with some conference rooms, I said 'oh sure, no problem.' What I didn't expect was the prison-like interiors I'd be facing. Each conference room space measuring less than 9 feet square needed some help. It wasn't so much the task as the overall budget: $200. [click here to read the full story]

I thought I was in one of those dream sequences from the show Absolutely Fabulous. But I wasn't.

We had to use found items and other items from a used-furniture store that the maintenance god there repainted for me. He also did a knock out job with the craftsmanship on everything including the great paint job on the walls.

[conference room 2 before]

[conference room 2 after]

But, as you can see, I did it and when completed I had people in the newsroom thank me afterwards as now they didn't have to meet city officials, college presidents, the Mayor, and colleagues in a room that looked more like an interrogation room fit for any spy or action movie.


July 22, 2010

Golden Gate meets Frank Lloyd Wright

Growing up in Illinois, one is familiar with Oak Park and the studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. Even residences such as the Dana Thomas House in Springfield (I'll do a post during the holidays on this place) are destinations for both architecture aficionados as well as school children (and for interior designers like me who need an inspiration get-away). While walking around San Francisco and doing a bit of shopping, I happened across this gallery whose architecture I immediately recognized by non other than Wright himself.

Located on Maiden Street, nestled between Post and Geary right off of Union Square park, Xanadu Gallery and Folk Art International houses such gorgeous artwork from around the world. Whether it be Hellenistic jewelry from Greece dating from BC4000 to ancient Egyptian art to African and Himalayan sculpture. I was in heaven.

Built originally to hold the V.C. Morris Gift Store, it went under a complete renovation/restoration some years ago.

The distinctive architectural features include the Romanesque arch and the spiral staircase that actually was designed after Wright finished the plans for the Guggenheim.

Enjoy these photos. For the next post, I'll take you to another one of my favorite fabric stores located just steps from this gallery.

[note: last photo was from the SF Chronicle]

July 12, 2010

Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture

I will be sponsoring the documentary "Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture" directed by Mark Smith, part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase at the Tivoli Theatre showing on July 22 at 7pm. More information about the movie itself can be had at http://www.louissullivanfilm.com/.

Considered by many to be the "father of modernism", Louis Henri Sullivan (September 3, 1856 – April 14, 1924) was known for the use of heavy, intricate decoration and architectural detail; however, one may not know that laying behind the camouflage of this complex ornament were the technological advances that made him the inventor of the modern-day skyscraper.

A prime example of his work now undergoing renovation is the Carson Pirie Scott building at 1 South State Street in Chicago, Illinois. The building was constructed in 1899 for the retail firm Schlesinger & Mayer then later expanded and sold to Carson Pirie Scott in 1904.

Recently saved by demolition, the building was bought by developers and appropriately, part of the space will be occupied by the School of the Chicago Art Institute. When I was in Chicago several weeks ago, I was able to snap some incredible closeup photos of the building and some of the renovation in progress. Below, I combined those shots with the one shot of the busy street (the logo of CPS on the windows) and the historic building.

For those of you that live near me in St. Louis... the historic Wainwright Building downtown is another architectural marvel that nearly was demolished in 1977. Located at 709 Chestnut Street, it was built in 1890-91. At the time, it was among the first skyscrapers in the world and named for local financier Ellis Wainwright. If you notice the ornamentation, it was based on the decoration found on the Notre-Dame de Reims in France.

July 8, 2010

Leaving Your Heart in San Francisco

Tony Bennet made the world yearn for the city by the bay speckled with cable cars and foggy air. Forget Rome or Manhattan, San Francisco was the place where the singer chanted about where he'd prefer to be.

Unlike the iconic song, a long-distance relationship some nearly 20 years ago left me feeling that SF was not the place to be. And, although I experienced all the iconic tourist places, I was never really 'got' the appeal of the California city. However, life happens. After 20 years, I was in for a change of opinion.

Recently, having a business trip that took me to San Francisco, I reluctantly made plane and hotel reservations bracing myself for a not-so-good time in a city where I really didn't want to be in. Knowing the situation [and thankfully ignoring my whining] my friend Jennifer Boles, a contributor to House Beautiful and fellow blogger [peakofchic.com] insisted I met up with two of her favorite designers Scot Meacham Wood and Grant Gibson. "You have to meet them... they're great..."

Trading cell numbers and scheduling shuttling, I was picked up by Scot in a BMW Mini almost as bright and colorful as his personality. We met Grant at a restaurant called Spruce, designed by the then William Sonoma Home Creative Director, Stephen Brady. www.sprucesf.com.

After laughs, a few martinis (ok, I was the one drinking the martinis). And this incredible chocolate desert, Grant and his two, adorable Scottie dogs, took me back to my hotel.

So this post is really a thanks to two people that I really love [and the one encouraging me to reach out to them], not only just for a good time or their continued friendship, but for helping me realize that when life gives you lemons... order a few citrus martinis!

On and off in the next few weeks I'll share some more of my great visit to San Francisco including the Cartier exhibit, the Asian Art Museum, Goyard and a small gallery housed in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

I left my heart in SanFrancisco, and I'll be back there soon!

July 6, 2010

We're back...

Hi everyone. The economy has played such a part in Design Guy University. Each and every time a schedule was released, there were so few participants, that I decided to pause. That will change in September. I'm planning a fall schedule that will knock you out that you'll want to sign up right away!

In addition, I'm planning another field trip for those who want to go again to the Merchandise Mart to the new showrooms and the new Dream House on display. Also, a trip to NY at Christmas is in the works along with a trip to the new Las Vegas Showroom in the Spring.

This long hiatus has taken me to both coasts, up north, and most recently ... to Europe. I've been temporarily in charge of an arts technology entity where I've learned a lot, designed some fabric that was published, and have been finishing up some spectacular work that I'll reveal as photos are available. I'm also honored to be answering interior design questions from the Post Dispatch in the Lifestyles section on a regular basis. It's so fun and really an extension of what I'm doing with the blog.

Also, I have a new location. Some of you know that Tjaden Interiors was located on the corner of McPherson and Walton in the Central West End. Well, I've moved up closer to Euclid alongside Halbert Rug Gallery. The change is great and I'm sandwiched in between two galleries: William Shearburn and Duane Reed.

Being a designer is who I am, what I should be... and to share that experience with you once again is a thrill that I am looking forward to do.