Creative talents and independent minds have forged a bulwark against boredom in America’s greenest city
It’s not surprising that Portland is a design-driven city, with top-shelf creative firms such as Nike and Wieden + Kennedy calling it home. What’s surprising to outsiders is that the people shaping the scene have little to do with these recognizable names. Rather, it’s the emerging architects, designers, craftsmen, and artists who are driving the city’s cultural growth. “Portland is a very accessible city for young creatives,” says noted architect Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture.
Kovel and others have carved out spaces for artistic expression in each of the city’s main quadrants. Take the gritty Eastside: Kovel put the area on the map in 2004 with his Doug Fir Lounge, an offbeat restaurant, bar, and live music venue whose design could be defined as ’50s modernism meets cosmopolitan truck-stop diner. In the upstairs bar, onion rings, burgers, and “Grandma’s Meatloaf” are served, while the downstairs lounge hosts rock shows for a late-night crowd.
Next door, the 80-room Jupiter Hotel looks like it was lifted from a ’60s California postcard. Also open since 2004, the hotel was a design collaboration between Skylab and owners Kelsey Bunker and Tod Breslau, featuring recently updated guestrooms with modern headboards made from Ikea-like furniture, mod chandeliers, hand-painted wall murals, and Rothko-esque bright colors.
The workers who frequent the Jupiter for happy-hour drinks labor nearby at bside6, a new, seven-story office building. Designed by Works Partnership Architecture with Le Corbusier in mind, the project inhabits a simple concrete frame that creates four window-filled façades, interspersed with “city rooms” that offer views of downtown at its best.
Elsewhere on the Eastside, newish developments such as the former food bank called The Hub are home to lifestyle boutiques, including the hybrid florist-décor shop Ink & Peat. Clientele frequent this light-filled boutique to browse country-chic wares that include rustic pottery, letterpress greeting cards, and brightly patterned pillows.
Nowhere in Portland is the design scene so centralized as it is in the Westside’s posh Pearl District. Formerly a shady neighborhood characterized by dilapidated warehouses, this pedestrian-friendly, art-loving community is now marked by high-rise condos interspersed with exceptional dining locales. There’s one restaurant that only vegetarian denizens won’t travel to—BEAST . With an intimate, tiny setting of two communal tables framing an open kitchen, the restaurant boasts a “frank appreciation of meat.” Chef Naomi Pomeroy creates weekly menus and keeps them to six-course, prix fixe dinners with only two seatings per evening. Menus have included potato-leek soup topped with maple-glazed bacon and chervil salsa, and shredded rabbit over spätzle. For another helping of dessert, stop at one of two locations of Cacao. Owners Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley, boast what they call “chocolate prêt-à-porter meets chocolate haute.” The shop has more than 35 kinds of the sweet stuff, offered in both chewable and drinkable form.
Elsewhere in the Pearl, modern furniture stores like Hive feed the decorating desires of local loft owners, while the Museum of Contemporary Craft invites contemplation about design with rotating exhibits and public programs, complemented by monthly First Thursday gallery walks and annual shows dedicated to contemporary art, including fall’s Time-Based Art Festival.
Nearby is the West End, a budding shopping district sandwiched between the Pearl and downtown. Here, young professionals peruse the wares at Canoe, a modern home shop with a stock of simple, functional products. Close by is the headquarters of Ziba, a design consultancy, built in 2008 by Holst Architecture. The firm used native Douglas Fir throughout the 53,000-square-foot LEED Gold-certified space, keeping up with the city’s reknowned environmental standards. There’s even an auditorium open for public events.
Just a few blocks away sits the soulful Ace Hotel. This smart, nostalgic renovation of a 1912 hotel stretches an entire block and has 79 rooms flaunting vintage décor and wall murals from emerging artists such as street artist-skateboarder Brent Wick. An adjacent event space known as The Cleaners hosts regular events such as the bike-themed party, Artcrank.
Within walking distance from the eco-chic Ace Hotel sits the Nines Hotel, which houses Kovel’s 9,000-square-foot Departure Restaurant + Lounge features a new-millennium sheen, softened by an ocean-liner motif and Asian cuisine. The polished wood-paneled dining room has nautical map murals, marine-inspired teak decking, and an outdoor space that offers arresting views of downtown. Also located downtown is a veteran hot spot, Saucebox, where, since 1995 chic patrons have gathered for cocktails, as well as pan-Asian and Pacific Island cuisine.
Still need some retail therapy? Then Relish on the Northwest side is worth visiting for another round of shopping. This modern-home boutique attracts shoppers with an affinity for local green goods such as architect Jeanie Lai’s line of felt jewelry, runners, and coasters. Nike and gang may have set the stage for a burgeoning design scene, but it’s the under-the-radar individuals like Lai who are taking Portland to the next level. Says Kovel, “There’s a low barrier of entry here, allowing for many early-career opportunities for self-expression.” So far, it’s proven to be a winning design for success.
Photography by Linden Olivia Hass
We asked some of our favorite designers to select their favorite kitchen hues that have the power to transform any space-remodeling not required.
Matthew Hufft of Hufft Projects:
“I am obsessed with the new Benjamin Moore Aura paints. I find rich reds such as Caliente to be appropriate for the kitchen, since they stimulate the appetite and create a sense of warmth.” Benjamin Moore Caliente AF-290
Amanda Nisbet of Amanda Nisbet Design:
“Farrow & Ball’s Charleston Gray is such a sophisticated and warm gray/brown. It’s very chic and it can work with a variety of accent colors, in either a modern or traditional setting.” Farrow & Ball Charleston Gray 243
Eric Cohler of Eric Cohler Deisgn:
“Use any bold color that makes a declarative statement and it says ‘Let’s have fun.’ Kitchens need to be kicked up a notch.” Benjamin Moore Marlboro Blue HC–153
Delta Wright of Curated:
“This allows the kitchen to reflect a love of cooking. The deep, rich color adds warmth and complexity, while providing a dramatic contrast to white marble counter tops and crisp linens.” Benjamin Moore Graphite 1603
Cover Your Tracks
These designers suggest taking an extra step to elevate your kitchen into glam territory. The following wallcoverings add depth and personality. And, yes, some are easy to clean.
Amanda Nisbet of Amanda Nisbet Design:
“A fabulous aspect of this covering is that you can’t tell it’s vinyl. This surface is impervious to the spills and grime commonplace “Grassweave” in a kitchen. vinyl wallcovering by Koroseal
Ann West of Ann West Interiors:
“For a smaller apartment or loft kitchen, always go with something graphic. The Edo print is a fresh “Edo” take on early-’70s graphics. It’s very reminiscent of. wallpaper by Quadrille
Matthew Hufft of Hufft Projects:
“I find cooking around walls that are covered in paper to be out of sync with my design sensibility. “Shagreen Deco” That is why vinyl makes sense. It provides texture. vinyl wallcovering by Koroseal
Vicente Wolf of Vicente Wolf Associates:
“The Pleat Series adds depth, texture and a little warmth. And because it’s vinyl, it’s easy to clean—“Pleat” perfect for use in a kitchen or bathroom.” vinyl wallcovering by Maharam
Up-in-coming interior designer Ryan Korban recently launched a website showcasing a selection of his projects to date which span from commercial to residential and other various interiors in between. Clients including downtown designer Alexander Wang, actor James Franco, model Natasha Poly and the stylish daughter’s of Danielle Steel–Victoria & Vanessa Traina, in addition to shopping go-to’s Barneys and Opening Ceremony, have all turned to the young designer for a classy, curated space that incorporates traditional English design elements fused with ornate and rich modern pieces. Creating an upscale yet functional space that is both polished and un-stuffy is the designer’s specialty, and his unique approach is one we’re excited to watch evolve.
LoftLife: As a traditionally untrained designer, what led you to this field?
Ryan Korban: I have always been drawn to the arts whether it was fashion, theater, or fine arts. My desire for creating environments was something that I was born with. Whether it was doing the table scape for my mother’s dinner parties or coming up with a concept for the Christmas tree every year. My desire to actually be an interior designer didn’t develop until I was older, but my passion for atmosphere was always there. Once I entered university at the New School, I had realized that creating full environments was what I wanted to do. Even at that point I didn’t want to go to school for it. I was more interested in having an academic degree. For me design is not about drafting living rooms in a classroom, but learning about the past. A perfected yet untrained eye has always been what inspires me. I studied European history and art and my liberal arts degree taught me more about how to create an alluring environment than studying floor plans would have.
In my senior year of school I was ready to exercise my skills so I designed my first commercial space while I was in school.This was a store I opened with a friend. What better way to start than having the challenge of creating a store? It had to be such an alluring space that people would want to buy something in it. Edon Manor really was a collection of everything I had studied and learned, from the rare book collection to the china collections, it supported my ideas of creating an academic space. Also my informal training lent itself as I was able to create a residential design for a commercial space. I hate how stuck America design is. In Europe the lines between commercial and residential are totally blurred and I am so drawn to that. So Edon Manor really was my first ever project.
LL: What finally led you to launch a website?
RK: I work with a very specific group of people and this is very important to me in order to create a body of work that feels different than what we have seen before. I really felt that the interior world was making little effort to try new things and as I saw the publications dropping (Domino, House and Garden, Metropolitan Home, Vogue Living) I realized that there lack of change and risk was really hurting the industry. This is why I am so drawn to the fashion world and the people in it. There is something new and relevant going on all the time. I feel a huge disconnect when I look at a lot of the interior publications. I work with CFDA winners, actors who have been in Academy Award nominated movies, and models who have been in couture shows and they don’t even live like the people do in Architectural Digest. I think the interior world is so fixed on square footage, I am more concerned with creating something fresh and sexy. I don’t feel any sex appeal in the interior world. So I thought it was time to publish my small, but precise body of work under my own name which is now the website.
LL: You have a strong fashion following, in addition to co-owning/designing Tribeca’s Edon Manor. How do you see fashion tastes crossing over with interior style?
RK: Working within the fashion world is so inspiring. It’s young, it’s fresh and it’s glamorous. All the things I look to achieve when I create a space. I love working with designers and watching them grow into lifestyle brands and helping them do that. The connection is so there and so underutilized that it makes me angry. My fashion clients know so much about what kind of mood they want and how they want to feel in a space its amazing. They know about silhouettes and fabrics. They have such a new approach to the treatment of fabrics and furs because of clothing. The way they develop fabrics is so advanced compared to the interior industry. Even the older, experienced, and respected people in fashion still look to be sexy and of the time. This is what really draws me to their world and pushes me to create spaces that feel sexy and sophisticated.
LL: Good design should be accessible. As a young designer, with a young clientele, how do you see a new generation’s attitude toward working with an interior designer on their home and not just doing it on their own?
RK: For me it’s so easy. I love working in small spaces — it’s my passion. Anyone with money can buy an Upper East Side condo or a mansion in the Hamptons and make it look amazing. I am more interested in what you do with a 600-square-foot studio in SoHo or the East Village. My work is based on taste not size and I think that is the new approach to interiors and my clients share this approach. Young people, even young rich people want to live the way they dress. Not everything needs to be polished and precise. Working with young people makes my jog so exciting and challenging. It forces me to really focus on what we should invest in. I work with a lot of renters so it’s important that I give them furniture they will have for the rest of their lives. When I work with someone it is usually their first time to hire a designer; I’m always flattered that they come to me and its exciting to take their virginity.
LL: That said, what are your favorite spots for shopping on a budget?
RK: I love shopping at Flair, of course they have very expensive pieces, but you can also go in and get the best accessories for the home. You can get stunning crystal ashtrays for $150. I love flea markets and I am addicted to Housing Works online auctions.
LL: What design elements do you begin a project with?
RK: I always start with a mood, it could be a color, a scent, or a flower. I like to develop the feeling my clients want and the world that they want to live in. That is more important than any tangible element of design. I never feel confident choosing furniture until I know the exact mood they want to achieve. Working with the senses is how I always start.
LL: Traditional English design is a big influence in your aesthetic. What began your obsession?
RK: I’m drawn to an old world dark romance that is so hard to find these days. I think my obsession started with Sweeney Todd, Eliza Doolittle, and Oliver Twist as a kid. From there it expanded into Princess Diana, The Clash, Amy Winehouse, and Kate Moss. My partner (Davinia Wang) at Edon Manor is from London as well and we have spent so much time in Oxford and
Holland Park. The idea of tradition is so alive there and the idea of rock is also still so alive. The enormous gap between Brink Lane and Buckingham Palace is so fascinating to me. To have such highs and lows creates so much romance in so many different ways that I cant help but be inspired. Plus I have a large obsession with the Elizabethan era to think England has had women ruling for so many years and are such a strong and wealthy country is amazing. Especially when we think we are the progressive ones.
LL: What kinds of projects do you hope to work on down the line?
RK: I hope to just keep doing what I do now. I hope that I can help bring life to the interior world and most of all I hope we can start to see exciting things happen. I love the projects that I do whether its a store, showroom, home or even a baby shower for the future I just hope I can keep getting interesting work with inspiring people. A hotel wouldn’t hurt either. If I don’t learn something or find something new working with a client then I’ll know it wasn’t a success.
LL: Describe your ideal home, and where? Is there a city or neighborhood, decorating theme, etc.
RK: My ideal home wouldn’t reflect a time period or a design aesthetic, not even a neighborhood, but instead a complete fantasy. The design world is so obsessed with dates, times and eras I’m obsessed with the idea of walking into a space and feeling like you are in a whole other world that has never existed until that very moment. That’s my ideal home, it’s a bit of a fairy tale.
Last Thursday German luxury brand Rosenthal hosted their concept store launch at The Plaza, featuring images from their EGO photography campaign shot by Karl Lagerfeld which showcases the brands innovative and design-driven tabletop culture.
According to Lagerfeld, “On one hand, I love this brand… on the other, I am also interested in the work as a link between beauty and functionality.” Rosenthal USA President Glenn de Stefano feels it’s “an opportunity to express Rosenthal’s artistry and make it accessible and available to those who understand and appreciate it” along with other esteemed stores within the Grand Concourse walls at the The Plaza.
With contemporary porcelain, stemware, tabletop, and homeware accessories that combine traditional design with avant-garde style, the 130-year old design house has collaborated on pieces showcasing an extensive list of architects and artists including Walter Gropius, Timo Sarpaneva, Raymond Loewy, Salvador Dalì, Jasper Morrison, Paul Wunderlich and Patricia Urquiola.
Photography by Patrick McMullan Company
For the second year in a row, we’re happy to announce a media partnership with the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association’s annual Loft Tour on September 26th & 27th. Eight Atlanta lofts will be on display, chosen by a panel of judges from both in and outside the neighborhood.
The selection committee is made up of HGTV’s John Gidding, LoftLife’s very own Rhonda Goodman, Project Runway designer Mychael Knight, Kate Abney from Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle, as well as Citysearch’s Atlanta Editor Jonathan Baker. Tickets are good for both days of the event, and can be purchased for either $10 in advance here, or $15 on the days of. Don’t forget: there’s only ten days left to buy tickets!
Attendees will be able to pick up our most recent issue, which features the future of the loft. Additional details can be found on via Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association. We look forward to seeing you there!
With the end of summertime quickly approaching, it’s hard not to have vacation on the brain. The Brown/Saide Residence in the Hamptons is a perfect mix of modern set in the country. The lofty residence was designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz in collaboration with architect Brian E. Boyle and was built in the ’80s. The 6,700 sq. ft. residence is both private and perfect for entertaining when the owner’s feel lead. The exterior of the house is almost camouflaged by the lush, natural landscaping, creating an organic aesthetic that you would think might continue indoors. However, step inside and you will find the space is anything but. Rather, the interior features a clean, white palette, highlighted with bits of color and sleek furnishings. The striking contrast works, proving modern can be done in any context.
Around the corner from the LoftLife offices, and one of our favorite bookstores in town is Dashwood Books. Opened to the public in 2005, the store is the city’s largest independent book store devoted entirely to contemporary photography. Featuring both new, used and the occasional signed copy as well as rare and out-of-print titles, the store carries an awe-inspiring selection of publications from around the world.
A quick search of architecture and interiors turned up the following:
The Transparent City by Michael Wolf
Interiors 1973 – 1974 by Robert Adams
Domestic Landscapes; A Portrait of Europeans at Home by Bert Teunissen
Home is Where the Heart Is by Bruce Webber
Dashwood Books is located at 33 Bond Street, between Bowery and Lafayette.
After speaking with Chateau Marmont designer Campion Platt we were inspired to check out Andre Balazs’s latest property. West coast destination staple, The Standard, has opened shop in New York after establishing itself as a design mecca to Hollywood and Downtown LA travelers.
The 18-story glass and concrete tower was designed by Todd Schliemann, partner with Polshek Partnership Archicects, and sits in the heart of the Meatpacking District atop the High Line, housing 337 guest rooms decorated by Roman and Williams.
Also home to the Living Room bar and The Standard Grill, the hotel is a design destination which includes several public spaces for visitors to enjoy as well. The grand total would be two restaurants and five bars, including a roof deck with a and beer garden on the ground level.
Featuring the best in modern architecture and decor, rooms start at a recession-freindly $199 per night–virtually unheard of for a boutique hotel stay in New York.
Photos via Design Therapy.
Posted by Erin Ryder
Interior designer and architect Campion Platt is widely known for pioneering the boutique hotel concept, serving as co-developer of Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont Hotel, and spearheading a benchmark project in New York of the Mercer Hotel and Merc Bar. An equally impressive celebrity client roster includes Al Pacino, Meg Ryan, Roger Waters, Conan O’Brien, Jay McInerney, and socialite Anne Hearst. He consistently incorporates fine craftsmanship and contemporary styling as well as eco-sensitive design to achieve the clean, cohesive, yet personalized spaces his firm is respected for.
LoftLife: You’re on the forefront of sustainable architecture and green design. What are the easiest elements to bring in, from both an architectural and design standpoint?
Campion Platt: The easiest elements are switching out commonly used things like plywood for a sustainable version, lighting alternates that use less energy. From a design standpoint, consider buying second hand and giving something a new life.
LL: With hotel design credits including Chateau Marmont, Mercer Hotel and MercBar, as well as Boston’s Bulfinch Hotel do you find your residential clients like to bring a boutique hotel feeling into their homes and design an upscale atmosphere suited for entertaining?
CP: I think the greatest feature is actually employing the dictum “less is more” hotel environments tend to be paired down, essential and an eye to comfort, luxury and whimsy.
LL: Where are your favorite places to travel and draw inspiration at the moment?
CP: My wife, Tatiana, and I love to travel to Morocco, especially Marrakech. There is a wealth of design inspiration at every turn and a number of great craftspeople reinventing methods that fit our sense of design.
LL: LoftLife launched in Atlanta last year, and has since expanded nationally. We saw you recently worked on the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Buckhead, incorporating the historic Southern aesthetic with modern details. How did you combine the two styles, and what were your favorite elements?
CP: The idea in Atlanta was to create a real sense of place in a modern high-rise. I studied the city and culture and drew upon the rich and layered history of both design and icons. Combining the styles was more of an editing process to identify the key features that would blend well together. My favorite element was the cypress we used in the lobby. A traditional southern wood, but a used in a modern way.
LL: A 4,000 square-foot Soho duplex loft is the type of home our readers (and we) dream about, though designing a cohesive space can be an enormous challenge. It looks open, intimate, luxurious and comfortable. What was your original vision and where did it begin?
CP: It began with my wife saying “I want a white loft in the sky!” From there, all decisions were based upon modulating the rooms; space and scale to both accentuate the great height and verticality while maintaining a sense of intimacy and casual comfort one finds in small spaces.
LL: Tell us more about your custom furniture line and the types of pieces you have created or hope to include at some point.
CP: I am working on a few new custom lines now. We are designing a contemporary and more urban collection for McGuire Furniture, an industry leader in luxury exterior furnishings. In addition, we are also working on capsule collection for George Smith, the English based purveyor of fine upholstered furniture based upon early American examples of popular furniture.
LL: How have you seen your clients taste and/or need change over the twenty years you’ve been a designer?
CP: I believe most of the client needs have remained the same except for the newer notion of a great room and/or incorporating a kitchen/dining room experience into a project. A wonderful change has also been, in general, the level of sophistication among the clients, both residential and commercial. The internet has informed us all in a more specialized way based upon our interests. Clients bring this information to the table and really help the design process.
Posted by Erin Ryder
Photography by Scott Frances
6/8/09 Following ten years of advocacy, urban planning, and five years of construction, the High Line is set to open tomorrow, June 9th. Section 1, the first to open, runs from Gansevoort to 20th Street. Section 2, the remainder, runs to 30th Street is still under construction and projected to open in 2010, additionally pending development approval of the West Side Rail Yards.
Originally built in the 1930’s as part of a massive public-private infrastructure called the West Side Improvement, the elevated railway was abandoned in 1980 and otherwise faced demolition. The City of New York committed $50 million to revamp the structure à la the Promenade Plantée in Paris, with 720 teams from 36 countries submitting design plans to preserve the historic space. The High Line design team is led by landscape architecture and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations.
Visitors can enter from Gansevoort Street, and the High Line will be open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. On June 15th, Friends of the High Line will celebrate with First Party on the High Line.
Photography by Jesse Chehak and Paul Schlacter; courtesy of the High Line and flickr.
Posted by Erin Ryder