Talking Out Loud with BEAM …..

There has been an explosion of young entrepreneurs that are not in dot-com or finance.  These new waves of young business owners are embracing more traditional job paths that forgo IPOs and embracing alternative careers.  They are artisans, crafts persons, shop owners and skilled collectors who are keeping time-honored traditions alive.  ”Talking Out Loud” is a chronicle of the conversations with these people about their work, life and inspirations……

You just never know.  My clients-turned-dear-friends invited The Partner and myself to go to Palm Springs with them a  few months ago along with a few of their other friends.  One of the other people on the trip happened to be my client’s best friend from college, Ali.  What struck me immediately about Ali was his almost encyclopedic knowledge about furniture.  While law may be Ali’s profession, design is his passion, so much so that last month he took a leap of faith. teamed up with a business partner and opened up a fantastic retail store in Brooklyn called BEAM.  As Ali puts it, the store’s style” is a bit mid-century, and a bit rock and roll with a healthy dose of humor.”

Sounds like a place I could quickly fall in love with.  It’s also why I cornered Ali and forced him to this interview……


Finish this sentence…. “A lawyer and an antiques dealer open a home décor store and…..”

… both Elle Woods and Hanna Horvath shop there and love it!
The trend over the last few years has been to open an online store, so why did you decide to open up a physical storefront?
Personally I love the experience of shopping in a physical store — all of your senses are engaged, you can touch and feel the product, there’s a social aspect if you are shopping with a friend or interacting with the store’s staff, there’s the thrill of discovering something really special that you fall in love with.  Online stores are convenient, but I don’t think they will ever be able to re-create that experience.  That said, we are planning to launch an online store soon, to complement our physical location.  You almost have to have an e-commerce presence these days, because even if people love and visit your brick-and-mortar store, they want the option of being able to shop from home as well.
The store has an emphasis on nurturing emerging talent.  Who are some of the new designers and their products in the store?
We are lucky to have so many talented artists and designers in our backyard!  Right now, we’re showcasing Deborah Shavlik’s wool and cashmere pillows and bags with pills, lips, and starburst designs on them, which Deborah makes using a felting technique not unlike tattooing; byAMT’s leather strap baskets, which make handsome storage for your magazines; and Colin Adrian’s stained glass feathers, which create a great visual when hung up in a window and the light reflects off the different colored glass.

Deborah CollagebyAMT
What are the hot sellers in the store right now?  Are you noticing a trend in what people are buying for Fall?
Anything in a warm metallic, like copper or brass, has been big.  Japanese shibori tie-dyed textiles have been popular.  People also love this very unique Seletti dinnerware set we found, which melds traditional Eastern patterns with Western designs to create “hybrid” pieces.

As Christmas draws, what 2-3 things do you think would make a perfect holiday present that you currently have in the store?
Everyone on my holiday list is getting a “Brooklynese” coffee set, which comes packed with two “Cawfee” cups, a “Shuguh” bowl, and a “Creamah” pitcher – great for anyone with a special place in their heart for New York.  Alexandra Ferguson’s bold typography pillows have fun sayings on them like “Let’s Make Out,” “Be Nice or Leave,” “Go to the Gym,” “Call Your Mother,” and so on.  There’s a saying for everyone, so you can get through you holiday shopping list pretty quickly.  Jon McCoy’s crystal votive holders are really special and make great gifts.  They are handmade using crystals like amethyst and quartz, and when you light them up, they literally glow from the inside.

Having spent time on both coasts, have you noticed any major differences in how people decorate their homes in NYC versus Los Angeles? 
One of the things I love about LA is that the weather allows you to create these great indoor-outdoor living spaces, which isn’t as easy in New York.  Folks in LA aren’t afraid of color, and the style is more casual.  New Yorkers like things a bit more polished, architectural, with clean lines.  Most New Yorkers also have space issues, so finding furniture and accessories that serve multiple purposes is more important.
Being in the home décor business you are exposed to a multitude of “lust worthy” items.  What are 3 things that make your heart go “pitter patter” that you would love to own?
It’s hard to pick just three, but right now I’m lusting after Tom Dixon’s black velvet mohair highback chair, Bocci’s globe pendant chandeliers, and Brian Gennett’s line of trays and side tables made from vintage leather book covers and antique brass (which we will be carrying in the store soon!).

Ali Collage

As a small business owner, what two pieces of advice would you give to someone planning on opening his or her own store?

First, have a concept.  The most successful small retailers have a unique perspective or point of view, and their customers return to them again and again because of that.  Second, do your research.  The technical details can be boring, but you have to know the demographics of your market, who your competitors are, where you are going to source your product, how much it is going to cost, how long it takes to make.  As a small business owner, every decision counts, so you have to arm yourself with as much information as possible to make informed decisions.
If you had to describe the ingredients that went into making Beam the strong brand it is today, what would you say they were?

Seeking out good design for our customers is at the core, because we strongly believe that good design makes your life better.  A sense of humor is also important, because these days people lead such stressful lives, it’s nice to see someone come into the store, pick something up, and smile.

Thank you Ali and I am so excited to spread the BEAM gospel of good design mixed with a healthy dose of humor.  That my friends is a recipe for success in my book!

[pictures courtesy of BEAM, Deborah Shavlik, byAMT, BEAM, Brian Gennett, Tom Dixon & Bocci Lighting]

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Play Date: Esqueleto …..

I love stumbling upon little boutiques in my own backyard.  I went searching for a donut and found the adorable boutique, Esqueleto.  The shop opened its doors in August 2011 in Oakland, CA and is curated by owner Lauren Wolf.  Wolf relocated to the West Coast after eight years of establishing her namesake line, Lauren Wolf Jewelry, in New York City.  Like so many Oakland entrepreneurs Lauren discovered a city filled with smart, stylish and design-savvy clients starved for unique and well-made goods.  When the opportunity arose Lauren chose to open up Esqueleto in the rather cool Temescal Alley area of Oakland.

E_2 Sign

E_3 Mirror

The shop features a rotating assortment of artists, objects and jewelry in a desert-like shop.  Each corner of the store is filled with independent designers and artists who have created covet-worthy objects of desire……

E_1 E_7 E_6 E_5 E_4

However. what sucked me in was the jewelry……the pieces run from ornate to pared-down luxe.  I fell in love with an unpolished quartz and sterling silver pendant necklace from the designer, Sarah Swell.

E_8 E_9

So if you are Oakland, stop by Esqueleto and partake in all the amazing wares that Lauren offers.  And did I mention, you can get donuts next door?  Yes people…housewares, jewelry and donuts.  My life is complete.

Have an awesome weekend and be safe!

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Pen to Paper: Media Console…..

Sometimes you get inspiration from the least likely of places.  I have been working with a client on his San Francisco condo for about a year now, slowly adding pieces that we think represent his urban rustic aesthetic.  He loves the mix of wood and metals but craves a touch of color in subtle ways.  In his living room, we had to contend with his beloved red overstuffed sleeper sofa.  It isn’t my first choice for seating but sometimes you have to play the hand you are dealt.  He then informed me that he wanted a place to house all of his electronics, stand alone speakers and his large flat screen TV.

So I was tasked with providing storage for his electronics and TV, incorporate color and tie in his sofa along with the more rustic elements in the space.  Common sense told me that we needed to do something custom to fit all the requirements.   I immediately set out seeking inspiration for the piece.  During my research, I ran across this image from Mondrian ……


It was instantly struck by the colors and the clean lines.  It led me to do a quick sketch of this…….

Media Console Sketch_Oct23

I worked with the fantastic team at Oak and Wood to bring my drawing to reality.  After a few back and forth’s with the client and myself, we agreed on this design……

HawthorneMedia_V3See the Mondrian inspiration?  We all agreed that we could leave the speakers out of the final piece as the client would probably downsize.  However, we did create space for all his electronics in the “tower” to the left, creating a false bottom so we could place a power cord and only snake out a single plug.  The television will sit on top and the drawers will hide all those cords and things that we all seem to have.

A few months later and I could not be happier with the final piece…..

Hawthorne Media Console

It has all the elements we needed to tie the room together but still hold true to the urban vibe the client desired.  It’s a beautiful piece and I am not saying that just because I designed it!  It is going to be the jewel in the living room and I can’t wait to get the space done!

Need design services?  Feel free to email me to inquire!  Okay I am off to a photo shoot – details to come shortly!  Have a GREAT weekend……

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.