Sunday, January 27, 2013

Boston Design Center

The Boston Design Center, normally only open to "the trade," opened its doors this past weekend
to commoners.  Some showrooms were having floor sample sales while others were
simply "open for viewing."

While I don't understand the concept of severely limiting your client base, it didn't matter to me.
I was just excited to see what design and decorating delicacies were behind
the forbidden post-modern facade.

I was most excited about going to Schumacher.  I've seen many beautiful Schumacher patterns and I wanted to see and feel the Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Mary McDonald collections.  I was disappointed to find that Schumacher was closed.  So lame!

Ralph Lauren was also closed but I was able to get these photos with
my crying face pressed to the glass.

Stark Carpets was open and I was happy to see their beautiful carpets in person.  I've seen some on One King's Lane and many of them appeal to me.  I was surprised to see that they also had a nice collection of antique thread-bare orientals and vintage Moroccans.  I'm on the edge of declaring Moroccans "over" because there are so many knock-offs but the real thing is still gorgeous.

In my mind, Stark is best known for their antelope carpet seen in this fantastic Jan Showers room.

The Kravet showroom was beautiful.  I didn't even know they sold furniture.  Their upholstered pieces are very elegant and some their case pieces are surprisingly modern.  
Their fabrics are all soft to the touch and seem quite luxe.  

You could spend weeks going through all of the fabric showrooms.  Weeks!
It would be easy to get overwhelmed in just one.

Here are few that appealed to me.

1.  Gaston y Daniela, Segovia pattern, Gris colorway
2.  Gaston y Daniela, Matsuyama pattern,verde colorway
3.  Brunschwig & Fils, Le Jardin Chinois, Aqua/Green colorway
4.  Gaston y Daniela, Regencia, Chocolate colorway

One of my favorite places was Janus et Cie, a beautiful showroom
that focuses on indoor and outdoor seating.

I was totally in love with the boxwood clad walls.

...their beautifully designed space and their great products.

I would love to have four of the wicker chairs around a small table on
my back porch when that gets replaced.

I was recently reading about this beautiful kitchen via this Tokyo Jinja post and noticed that the
subway tile was from Ann Sacks so I psyched to see it at the design center. 

What a beautiful showroom.  I'm not one for glitz but this patinated gold tile
was pretty amazing.

Also very cool was their selection of their porcelain tile made to look like plank flooring.  
What a great choice this would be for a kitchen.

VERY cool!

I have a very photographic memory and I was sure this yellow tile (I neglected to get the name) looked very familiar to me.  

Does it look familiar to you?

I'm pretty sure it's the tile that Kathryn Ireland used in her Ojai makeover in the most
recent season of Million Dollar Decorators.

There was so much beautiful tile, I couldn't begin to show it all but I took great interest in the
mosaics at the Ann Sacks showroom which I'll show in another post.

Despite my disappointment at missing Schumacher, I had a great time having access to the
showrooms at the Boston Design Center.  I would love to have more time to see everything and educate myself better on the products that are available if only through the trade. 


  1. What a treat! Would it be cliche' to say, "like a kid in a candy story"? I love fabric. I get overwhelmed at the local fabric stores...I am still trying to decide on curtain fabric for my family room. I do hope there is more!

  2. Wish I had known they were open this weekend! I might have joined you. I'll be there on Tuesday for a client. I understand your disappointment over Schumacher -- they are a favorite of mine. I can never get enough of gorgeous textiles. Some people get their high from drugs or whatever, mine comes from fabric.

  3. I heard they we're going to open the showroom to the public. I never understood closing half your money out either. How exciting to finally have access for everyone, have a blast Steve.


  4. I am so jealous (you could have called!). Yes, it is frustrating for us lesser mortals, or people who simply want to do their own decorating (without credentials), that all the really beautiful fabrics and furniture are "to the trade" only. I have heard the prices are very sane, to allow for the markups for designers. I wish we had a design center I could visit (when permitted). I think some design centers are open to the public. It seemed like when I was in DC, I was told that some of the showrooms were...though I did not have time to visit.

    And some year I want someone to sneak me into High Point. I want to see what I am missing. We need to make friends with the right people.

    Thanks for the commoner tour. :)
    xo Terri

  5. This post is perfection. I keep going back and looking at your beautiful photos and the layout and the links and...your blog is so elegant and fine that I had to look at all the photos again just to make sure I didn't miss a thing.
    Thank you for this tour.
    Yesterday I was looking at subway tile myself and stumbled across plank flooring tile and started dreaming. And here it is again!
    I also adore that table in the Jan Showers room.
    Lovely post.

  6. The fabric alone would have made my head spin.I like your choices. Its been years since I've been to a design center. I have been intrigued by wood plank-look tile recently.

  7. My my....look what the mere commoner was able to see!

    Thanks for the looksie.


    another commoner :p

  8. Steve,I can't imagine having much more fun than this!!
    Looking at fabulous fabrics and the furnishings they adorn, heavenly!

    New 2013 Artists Series

  9. Steve, You did such a great job of sorting through and picking out a few jewels - never easy in that kind of overload situation. And I love your new Pin It buttons - makes it all so easy!

  10. You are so lucky Steve! I have always wanted to go there. I have wanted wicker chairs for a long time, but the ones I really like are antiques and are not in my budget. Great post.

  11. beautiful post! I like the most the Gaston & Daniela "Segovia" pattern and the yellow tiles.

  12. Starting laughing when I read your term commoners! So true. Great post and I love that Brunschwig & Fils floral!

  13. While I think the showroom concept is a dying one, I understand the manufacturers of such fine fare wanting to distribute through channels who understand their product. 99.9% of consumers (present company not included) have no clue about proper application and use.

    P.S. The yellow tile is from Popham and handmade in Morocco. It's been on my wishlist forever.

  14. I wish I had known too, then Carol and I could have both joined you!! I, instead, was at Zimman's for a sale day yesterday. Takes me 20 minutes to focus on the fabric after walking in and being totally overwhelmed with just how many bolts they have! Didn't buy a thing, but we did then go to the Cambridge Antique Mall- ughh. Dan asked if I knew where you lived, so we could stalk you;);) but alas I didn't!! :)

  15. What fun! I would especially love to see the fabrics--that would make me a little crazy (in a good way). I wonder what credentials make one part of the trade. Would a tax id and business card announcing one's new design business be enough? I know that for my store it was--although purchases usually required a minimum.

  16. I understand Raina's point, but like you, I've always been irritated by "to the trade only." It really presupposes that everyone else can't afford to buy.

    1. I don't know you, and I typically would never respond like this, but as a member of the trade, clearly you and many others don't understand why it IS that Design Centers are to the trade only.

      Simply put, it a courtesy to the professionals who sustain their careers in the design business, those of us who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each quarter on client' s goods and support these showrooms livelihoods, the showrooms extend trade pricing as a THANK YOU to the very people who keep them alive and running.

      All so that we can remain some lament of exclusivity and remain relevant...

      With the advent of the internet and all these renegade designer fabric and furniture sites available, I would imagine you could find whatever you want anyway, without putting the rest of us out of business.

      Nothing irritates a designer more than witnessing non trade members taking advantage of the privileges we had to earn by hard work and proven results.

      I am sorry I just thought all these comments required proper context from the opposite point of view.

  17. So bummed I didn't know it was open to the public this weekend! Do they do this often I wonder? I would totally block my calendar for the next "commoner" weekend!

  18. But dear you are a designer. You write about interiors....make your own the most fabulous Xmas trees. And your home has been published!! Thanks for the tour. Maybe one day I'll have a project there and can call upon the showrooms :)

  19. ADAC recently opened its doors to commoners here in Atlanta.

    I agree that's the tile used on MDD. I'm so bummed the season is over.

  20. That is such a treat. I had a very dear friend who was an architect and every once in a while he would let me tag along to the "trade only" buildings in New York when he was shopping for a client. He also always had big thick "books" of swatches in his apartment which were borrowed so he could show clients and I was always threatening to steal them so I could make throw pillows from them. The array of fabrics is overwhleming in their beauty.

    1. Pillows with front and back totally different. Completely reversible. Mix and match.

  21. 3. Brunschwig & Fils = Gorgeous! I JUST looked up that Ann Sacks glass tile today....hmmmm, are we on to something... franki

    1. Franki,
      What would do with the fabric. I'd do drapes for sure, with bamboo blinds, the antelope carpet, the brown leather chairs from Ralph Lauren and maybe a deep green velvet sofa. Probably a vintage brass bamboo coffee table. And lots of colorful pillows.

      What are doing with glass tile?

  22. Thanks for the tour, Steve. My husband is an architect so I went in there once with him once but I was rather overwhelmed and intimidated: this visit was better!

  23. I got in there once to attend a benefit. The stores were all closed but it was fun looking in the windows! Love the gold and wood porcelain tiles the best.

  24. Our Janus showroom in houston looks exactly the same as yours. love that wood tile and the yellow tile in kathryn's room!
    thanks so much for your sweet comment today - much appreciated!!!

  25. Thanks for the tour, Steve! I had planned to go in myself and take a gander at the current offerings from the different design houses. But sometimes life just gets in the way...
    Too bad Ralph Lauren was closed- their space is jaw-droppingly beautiful!

  26. That would have been so great to see. I love the wood like floor tile too. It would go with those plants in the last post.

  27. I love the Antilope carpet be Stark, how fun!
    Great tour, thank you!

  28. Love that Moroccan tile...yellow is beautiful, but naturally I really love it in gray. You have a great eye.

  29. Awesome tour of the showrooms -- thanks for sharing! I like the ceramic tile that looks like wood. It appears to be quite realistic in your photos. I wonder how it looks installed with grout lines. That could be a great solution for our kitchen/hallway/bathroom. I had a contact who once got me into the High Point market. It was overwhelming! So much to look at! Free food and drinks were an added bonus.

  30. I feel the same way about the Moroccan carpets but if gifted with one I would happily lay it down.

    Surely among your 1000's of admirers there is one would has the creds to take you to the design center on a normal working day?

    If not come here. GG's sister Tini will take you, I'll come too, We'll have a hay day.

    xo Jane

  31. I love how you describe we nobodies as commoners. Based on my introduction some time ago to an interior designer I met who had at one time worked at ADAC, his airs certainly indicated he thought it above himself to mingle with the hoi polloi. Why not just refer to us as "off the street buyers."

  32. Do I need to come pick you up and drag you there with me? Don't worry your perty little head, you can come to Schumacher any time with me!
    That reg tag sale is a total nightmare and most of the employees are pissed to have to work Saturdays anyway. Much more fun to go during the week!

  33. I think Maureen already mentioned that Atlanta recently opened the doors also. It helps to demystify what is behind closed doors with the hope that someone will want something so badly they will call a designer to buy it for them! Highly unlikely.....they will just look for it on the Internet:). I'm not bothered either way.....ADAC is less than a mile from my house so it is convienent for me. Schumacher is one of my favs.

  34. Picking up on Katie R's comments, I'd also like to point out that design centers do not offer ginormous discounts to designers. Designer goods are expensive, even at our trade pricing. Fabrics are easily 3 figures, at our prices. If showrooms opened themselves to the general public, especially fabric showrooms, they'd be raising all the prices to full retail to cover their increased customer service/employee expenses. As designers, we're the quintessential middlemen between the showroom and end-user. We are, in essence, extended sales staff of the showrooms - we sell the product, and we deal with all the details from ordering to application to installation. We handle all myriad of details too numerous to go into here. And part of our compensation is the markup on the goods. And since nearly everything is now available on line and the fabric houses are selling to retail outlets more and more, our margins are getting smaller all the time. Just a little insight. Thanks for letting me vent!