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  • Avenue Interior Design: A Study On Collaborative Design Pedigree

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    Interior design office

    Welcome to the workspace of Andrea DeRosa and Ashley Manhan, the two stylish interior designers behind Avenue Interior Design. Individually they have worked at some of the top international design firms, but in 2009 they decided to join forces and build a design firm known for luxury interiors, attention to detail and on-trend style.

    I sat down with the ladies of Avenue and we talked about their design upbringing, how they came together and what inspires them. They even gave us some great modern lighting ideas, which is often times one of the hardest stages in a design project. Here's how our conversation went.

    Cori:  When and how did you fall in love with design?

    Andrea:  My love of design started with a love of clothes, accessories and fashion in general. I was dressing myself by age six and soon after I started ‘borrowing’ my mom’s accessories….  Eventually this evolved into a love of (what I would later understand to be) interior design.

    Ashley:  My love for design definitely stemmed from my creative parents. My dad is a set decorator and my mom is a costumer for motion pictures, so I grew up on movie sets, watching creative visions come to life for the big screen. Its hard to not fall in love with design when that’s your childhood.

    Cori:  What is your design background, school, first design jobs, etc.

    Andrea:  I studied interior design at UW-Madison and my first design internship was at a firm specializing in (residential) kitchen and bathroom design and eventually I interned at a high end, full service residential design firm for a number of years. Once I moved to LA, I did a brief stint at a couple hospitality firms before landing at Dougall Design Associates in Pasadena.

    Ashley: I had always taken art classes growing up and focused on painting and design in high school and college. It was always a goal of mine to get into the field of design as quickly as possible, so I started interning for a hospitality design firm during the day while doing the UCLA interiors program at night. From there I fell in love with designing hotels and worked at Cheryl Rowley Design and finally SBE.

    Cori:  How did you meet?

    Andrea/Ashley:   We met at a design firm in Santa Monica back in early 2006.

    Portrait photography at the beach

    Cori: What triggered the desire to start your own firm?

    Andrea/Ashley:   We've both always been interested in having our own firms - something I quickly realized most people don’t want!  When the economy slowed and our industry took a dive, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the leap. We didn't have too much to lose at that point, so we thought we might as well start building our own brand.

    Cori:  Where do you find inspiration?

    Andrea/Ashley:  Fashion continues to be a huge source of inspiration for us. We find inspiration in it all - current and past collections. Historical places and travel in general are also huge sources of inspiration.

    Cori:  Avenue's list of completed projects is an exciting range, which was your favorite (hotel, nightclub, office space, restaurant) and why?

    Andrea/Ashley:  That’s so hard! We’re fortunate our portfolio showcases so many styles. Borgata is a great client who often gives us creative carte blanche and we love the VIP dining lounge. The Society Club, that we designed for them (opened in June of last year). The Sayer’s Club, a nightclub we designed with SBE here in LA, was also really fun and it has a completely different feel.

    Cori: Your current projects are in different locations (like New York for example), since you guys are based in Venice, California how do you balance travel, work and the creative process?

    Andrea/Ashley:  Last year was an insane year. We were traveling, on average, one week per month. At the time, the majority of our clients were based in Atlantic City or Manhattan so it worked out well. Constant access to the internet really allowed us to continue work as usual. The creative process is always interesting... you really have to nurture that aspect of the business. It’s so easy to get tied down to the administrative aspects of the job. Luckily, staying creative is the part of the job that comes most naturally.

    Interior design office materials

    Cori:  Can you tell me a little about your super cool I Heart Design blog?

    Andrea/Ashley:  I Heart Design is a bit of a blog/designer resource hybrid where we really make home furniture, accessories and lighting the focus of the site. Through IHD we're providing an accessible and immediate service based on our background as design professionals. It starts with an inspiration image, typically a picture of an interior or a mood/fashion image, identify the core elements that make that image intriguing like color, texture, pattern and scale, and select furnishings around that image/mood to create a unique room. Our marketplace acts as a basic search engine where you can view everything we've ever posted (don’t blame us if it’s no longer available. Just click on a piece you like and we directly route you to a retailer's site so you can view the product details and purchase the pieces instantly.

    Cori:  Now for some design insight. For each project, at what stage do you select lighting?

    Andrea/Ashley:  Along with the other furnishings, the lighting for a project is selected in the beginning after we establish the client’s programming needs. Lighting can be so dynamic and such a focal feature, it sometimes sets the mood for the entire space.

    Cori:  What are a couple of your favorites from Eurostyle Lighting?

    Andrea:  The Vienna Manhattan Wall Sconce from Eurostyle is such a little gem of a piece with just the right amount of glamour.

    Chrome wall sconce


    Vienna Full Spectrum Manhattan Wall Sconce

    Andrea:  We designed a fixture similar to this Crystal Cloud Suspension Halogen Chandelier, but much larger in scale for one of our projects. Suspension fixtures like this are stunning and have a little bit of a magical feel to them.

    Crystal chandelier

    Crystal Cloud Suspension Halogen Chandelier

    Ashely: The brass and wood accents make this fixture feel very upscale and stylized. We love the mid-century modern feel.

    Modern glam sconce

    Jonathan Adler Ventana Brass Wall Lamp

    Ashley: The classic industrial style of this pendant is perfect for any office space or kitchen.

    Industrial modern pendant light

    Hudson Valley Haverhill Polished Nickel Pendant

    Stay tuned for Part II of this interview where we'll take a look at some of Avenue's wide range of fun projects.

    Image credit: Avenue Interior Design

  • Palihotel Interior Design Has Creative Appeal

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    Palihotel Reception Desk

    The Palihotel in Los Angeles is an ideally located urban hotel designed especially to appeal to creative travelers of all ages. Located in the heart of the Melrose Ave. Shopping District in Los Angeles making this the perfect place for the urban traveler to stay. It is also the first boutique hotel to open in this famous area and is sure to become a popular destination to both anyone visiting LA as well as for the locals.

    Hotel lobby eclectic chairs cork walls teal velvet curtains black windows

    It has the sweet neighborhood charm, like you're walking into a friends house or a local cafe. It's a place you want to be, sit, and stay. The lobby walls are wrapped in cork with deep teal velvet curtains. The rich colors in the vintage oil paintings, the black and white photography, the unique mix of leathers and soft floral fabrics mix with the solid wood reception desk to create layers and layers of stories. You want to touch and feel and be part of this story just upon entering into the space.

    Hotel cafe white cafe table leather banquette glazed blue ceramic brick tiles

     Palikitchen white cafe table communal table glazed blue ceramic brick tiles

    PaliKitchen is an easy approachable "local" cafe located right off the lobby and also has convenient street access. The communal style dining area gives you that community feel, like a neighborhood cafe that's been here forever. The green and white hexagon flooring is visually stunning and creates some real positive upbeat energy in this space. The light blue-ish green glazed ceramic tiles cover all the walls and are a great contrast to the natural wood chairs and warm leathers.

    Coffee bar check out counter general store with industrial shelf industrial lighting

    The interior design makes you feel like you're ordering your artisan coffees, fine teas, and comfort food straight from the counter at a local main street general store. The industrial pendant lights glow softly on the matching steel countertops. This is the place where hotel guests can mingle with the locals without leaving the hotel. And the locals can mingle with the guests without ever feeling like they are in a hotel. The creative freedom and unconventional vibe make this a dining and gathering point one you'll be sure to come back to over and over again.

    urban hotel room wool blankets screenprinted pillows cafe desk chair cork walls

    The rooms and the lobby are very cohesive in aesthetic. The materials of the lobby are repeated in the rooms to give you a warm, inviting, and relaxing space that feels very lived in. It's not overdone, overstyled, or overdesigned. It's like a perfect guest room in an urban country home that you might have a hard time leaving. But there's so much to do on these streets that there's no way you could really stay inside for long!

     scissor arm wall sconce cork wall velvet headboard wool blanket

    The scissor arm sconce and the industrial stool in the guest rooms looks amazing against the cork wall.

     architecture reclaimed wood wall cladding green lights

    With an exterior clad in reclaimed wood with bright green lights, you definitely won't miss it when you drive by. So when you're in LA whether you're coming to stay or just driving by be sure to stop in and say hi. Grab a coffee, do some work, or read a book. This is the perfect spot for the modern urban explorer. It has everything you need and nothing you don't.

    Images: Palihotel

  • Barbara Bestor Shakes Up the Design at Pitfire Pizza

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    Bright Red Steel Brick Oven and Yellow Powder Coated Barstools

    Barbara Bestor has always been one of my favorite Los Angeles Architects and she proves herself to me once again. If someone was going to successfully transform this old concrete-box Shakey's Pizza surrounded by an asphalt parking lot into a fun and modern hangout, who else would it be? Well, Bestor Architecture did just that for Pitfire Pizza in this Culver City location. The space was completely stripped down to it's bones to reveal the industrial elements of the space and fully opened it up to the exterior. The results... an incredible light filled space with artisan elements as delicious as the pizza and elements of pop as playful as the price!

    Red Brick Oven Pizza Douglas Fir Tables Exposed Beams

    Bestor was inspired by Lina Bo Bardi as she created this bright red steel brick oven. This bold statement truly defines what the space is all about. The marine plywood walls and douglas fir tables keep with the natural aesthetic of the brand while the bold accent colors of the powder coated barstools (designed by the firm) really show it's all in the details. Bright yellow furniture and lighting accents pop throughout the space. 

    Vintage Chairs Douglas Fir Table Concrete Bench with plywood Back pendant lights with exposed bulbs

    The Douglas Fir Table and espresso finish vintage modern dining chairs stand out as the silver vinyl cushion disappears into the concrete bench. The exposed bulb lighting fixtures hang simply throughout the space to create a nice elegant glow.

    Exposed Ceiling Bold window graphics douglas fir tables vintage chairs

    The space now fully opens to the landscaped patio. The natural light floods the space and the interior lighting only needs to be turned on in the evening.  

    Open Kitchen Plan Red Steel Brick Oven Pizza Exposed Ceiling and Powder Coated Bar Stools

    The open interior plan provides a very easy-going atmosphere suitable for family and large groups.  

    Bright Yellow "Yes" Graphics Bright Red Brick Graphic

    The exterior has been stripped down and she has created a play on the existing concrete block. "A bold graphic move sets the atmosphere and allows you to be fairly minimalist with the rest of it," she says. 

    Bold Graphic Extra large Brick Pattern Modern Architecture

    I'm definitely going to say "YES" next time I drive by! 

    Images: Bestor Architecture

  • Nest Studio: Where Design & Products Merge

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    Modern hardware by Nest Studio

    Allow me to introduce you to the new modern hardware line by Nest Studio. The sleek materials used for this line include nickel, brass and lucite. The designer behind this super chic product is Jessica Davis, an Interior Designer by trade, but she is also a blogger, product designer and mother. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jessica and talk about everything from her new line, to being a mom and where she gets her inspiration.

    Cori:  When and how did you fall in love with design?

    Jessica:  I’ve always been a design geek. When I was a kid I would make my parents buy those home design plan magazines and I would study all the plans in great detail. In middle school, when we lived in Dallas, I did a series of backyard landscape design plans and actually sent them in to Southern Living in the hopes they would give us a backyard makeover.  No dice, but the editor was kind enough to write me back and encourage me to go to design school.

    Cori:  What is your design background… school, first design jobs, etc.

    Jessica:  I majored in Art History in college but I focused my studies and wrote my thesis on architectural history and specifically contemporary urban planning and residential design. From there I went on to work for Bob Vila’s Home Again on the production side. I was exposed to so many great products and construction methods while working at BVTV. After that I decided I wanted to be on the design end and went back to school at the New England School of Art & Design for my Masters in Interior Design. Since then I’ve worked for Wilson Associates in Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles designing hospitality projects around the globe.

    Modern hardware pulls and Nest Studio

    Cori:  What triggered the desire to start your own product line?

    Jessica:  I guess I was getting a little tired of working on projects that were far away and that never really materialized into my vision (one of the bi-products of the economic downturn and ending up doing so much work overseas).  I wanted something that was uniquely my own and that I would have complete control over. Also, I saw a need in the market. Bedding was my first foray into product design, but I realize now that it’s really hard to compete with the West Elms and Dwell Studios of the world. Soft goods are a little like fashion where trends can change at the drop of a hat. Hardware on the other hand is more permanent, possibly because it requires more investment to produce and more technical knowledge to create. I felt that there was a niche waiting to be tapped in the residential hardware world and I had the unique set of skills to be able to do it.

    Cori:  Where do you find your inspiration?

    Jessica:  Pretty much everywhere in the urban landscape. I guess I’m more of the kind of person who draws inspiration from looking at man-made things more so than nature. A clasp on a watch or a bag might inspire some piece of hardware or lighting. For example, one of my new pieces was inspired by the grab bars on subways, buses and the joinery you see on them.

    Robert Vega photography

    Cori: How do you balance interior design projects, product design, managing your blog and being a mom/wife?

    Jessica: Ha! Whenever people ask me this I have to laugh. I have a lot of plates spinning and sometimes I feel like they are all going to crash down around me. Things are definitely moving slower because there is a little one at home now. There are blog posts I wish I had time to write, hardware promotion I wish I had time to do, new products I wish I had time to sit down and sketch. I just try to fit it in where I can and not stress too much if it doesn't get done or if it isn't perfect.

    Stay tuned for Part II of this interview where we'll take a look at some of Jessica's interior design projects and she'll show us a couple of her favorite modern light fixtures.

    Thanks Jessica!

    Images: Inlight, Robert Vega

  • FASTViNIC Goes Green in Barcelona

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    Turquoise Window with red graphics

    After Milan I took a little trip over to Barcelona and although I only had a few days to wander through these amazing streets, my experience was incredible. The food was great, the people were so nice, the architecture was stunning, and the level of design was far above par. As I was wandering home on my last day there after visits to many gorgeous museums, the boqueria, and my favorite the Gothic Quarter, I stumbled upon this little gem of a restaurant. It was the bold red graphics and the turquoise window frame that made me peek in. FASTViNIC is a food haven in Barcelona with an interior as mouth-watering as the food!  

    Modern restaurant Design and Barcelona

    The restaurant is 100% organic in style and selection of materials, down to the organic utensils. Alfons Tost took this idea of creating an extremely functional design that is comfortable and organic and is sure to make everyone feel welcome and implemented it to the max. Fastvínic uses the finest local produce and wines and this is evidence to their strong commitment to sustainable development. Environmental sustainability is fundamental to Fastvínic.This unshakable principle is based on three pillars: the choice of food, the selection of wines, and the design and functioning of the premises.

    Modern restaurant design and modern shelving

    The french linen pillows so cleverly suspended from the natural wood shelving above was one of the first things to catch my attention as I looked inside. However, the focal point of this design is the "perimetrical dexion racking," which as shown in this design is very flexibile in its usage. It works perfect for the seating, shelving, and as racks for the plants and pots, shelves and wine rack. The simple curves on the modern white dining charis are a very nice contrast to solid linear forms.

    Minimalist restaurant design in Barcelona

    Modern Restaurant and Barcelona

    The simple white metal pendant lighting is a perfect contrast to the wood cladding and turquoise walls. The repetition of the white pendant lighting balances and softens the white frames throughout the restaurant. It's a perfect combination!

    Modern Restaurant Design

    Go in, get cozy, and experience some fine dining while enjoying the beautiful surroundings! Good design has a huge impact!

    Images: Yatzer

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