Cassandra Buckalew

Beer on the Rocks

Beer Lovers + Design Lovers

Endeavour Tap Rooms, located in Sydney’s oldest, colonial hotel building in the Rocks District (Sydney’s first settlement), called me from across the street when I saw the aqua colored tiles, casement windows and burgundy trim on the facade of this architectural, historic gem. This quaint, almost pretty without being feminine, brewery feels nothing like your standard brewpub. Don’t let the botanicals and birds on the walls, flowers at each table, and beautiful wallpaper fool you, its more than just a pretty place.

Serving only seasonally harvested, Australian ingredients with no preservatives, along with seasonal libations, and the star of the show, of course, the vintage beer, this little corner spot has a 600-liter brewery, eight tanks, four key lines, four rotating taps and a lot of knowledgeable people behind it, in both the hospitality and brewing industries in Australia. There are 10 different beers to sample by Endeavour Vintage Beer Co with an interior that has just as earthy of a palette as the beer.

With the classic, barrel back, wood pub chairs and colonial style print wallpaper, this space hearkens back to its original iteration as Seaman’s hotel. With a lighthearted, contemporary British pub feel, thanks mostly to all the wood tones, this space feels airy and bright with all the whites and greens, but also grounded with the dark wood floors, railing and brown geometric tiles. I loved the special surprise of finding the original fireplace in the ladies restroom, the logo design on the coasters and the built-in, self-serve water faucet in the dining room. And what is that beautiful pink flower that looks like a pinecone?

 

 

 

The beer was wonderfully refreshing and light after day of exploring the Opera House and Rocks District. Definitely a must visit next time you’re in Sydney.

Xo,

Cass

 

Neocon Design Conference Chicago

Functionality|Artistry|Creativity|Innovation

Between the classes and the products, it takes a bit to digest everything at Neocon. There is so much to take in, see, do and remember. Below are pictures of installations, tile work, trim details, furniture, rooms, and new trends in design I saw and thought were noteworthy or loved, for one reason or another, in both residential and commercial design.

Artistic Tile’s fashion inspired mosaic tile jacket and dress were works of art. I can’t imagine the painstaking process of making that dress and capturing the draping of the fabric around the curves of the body. Mosaics usually come on a mesh material to make it easier to tile in large squares, but these had to take a great deal of both planning and patience.

 

Devon and Devon’s updated version of the hot and cold faucet were my favorite faucets.

 

Luum Textile’s vertical, suspended, fiber installation was a huge hit and had everyone walking through it, touching it and feeling it. They had several stations set up so you could interact with the fibers, weave a small carpet while you were there, and basically play with their materials. Isn’t that what everything in an interior should be about, the ability to touch, feel and use all of our senses to experience it?

 

Mannington Commercial‘s back-lit and up-lit, cut and torn paper scene gives me all sorts of ideas, specifically about something wintry for Christmas.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t recall where this was when I saw it, because after multiple floors, showrooms and booths, you tend to lose track, but I love the idea of creating an art installation as a visual barrier to define and divide space, instead of using walls. This installation was made of rope and what looked to be printed paper with the molecular structure of something. The installation was shaped like a V, and inside the V were tables and chairs which provided an envelope for those wanting to rest and be away from the noisy crowds.

 

The most innovative product I saw was Sedia Systems’ Jumpseat. This seat is pure genius, can support a full size adult, mounts on the wall or floor and flips up like theater seats when not in use. When folded up, the seat is only 4″ thick, making it the perfect solution for tight spaces. The first picture was their display at Neocon and even their imagery was clever showing a man mid-air as if he was jumping.

 

Samuel and Sons’ trim showroom, much like Artistic Tile, went down as my favorite for using their products in non-conventional ways. Although Samuel and Sons is carried here in Atlanta by Ainsworth Noah, there isn’t a showroom dedicated specifically to trim. Samuel and Sons is a passementerie lover’s dream. It was their creative use of fringe trimmings on paint brushes and tape trim to make the fabric for the outdoor sling chairs in their beach display that I loved. Samuel and Sons is a library of every trim imaginable arranged by color and grouped by style, making it easy to find the trim you need.

 

West Elm Workspace won the Best of Neocon Award in three categories, one of which was the furniture systems category. As people are now discovering, the open work environment is actually more prohibitive to working efficiently and productively. Really? I was wondering when that was coming. I’ve never understood the open working environment to begin with because who can concentrate? West Elm has come up with a new way to tackle the privacy issues in the open environment with their Haus concept. Haus is designed for individuals or small groups to work away from the busy, noisy open office without the need for walls, while providing both visual and acoustical privacy in three different configurations. And as you can see, it looks like a tiny house, thus making it seem less like an office and more like a social place for collaboration. I’m so thankful I don’t work in a traditional office setting. If I did, I would need one of these for sure. This is such a great solution for the office without having to put up walls and take them down based on how the team changes, grows and/or diminishes over the years.

 

There are some gorgeous kitchen showrooms at The Mart that will make you drool and rethink your current kitchen at least a couple of times. de Giulio  is one of them. If these kitchens resemble Siematic at all to you, it’s because Mick de Giulio has designed several of their collections including their New York showroom. There aren’t enough accolades for this man. The finishes are luxurious, and the solutions for problems we face in the kitchen are brilliant. I need that built-in, hanging pot storage.  On a side note, have you seen one of these Elektra Italian Espresso Machine? It’s the real deal and definitely deserves it own special task light along with that arched, tiled niche to give it pride of place. I’m pretty sure I recall seeing one in Venice while we were there.

 

But by far, my single favorite thing at Neocon was Atelier Gary Lee’s Lady Stinger Chair. Highly sculptural and displayed in American walnut matte finish, this chair, with its combination classic, 18th century cabriole legs, bee stinger vertical back, and modern sensibility, is to die for in my book. I have the perfect place in my home for it, too. It nets at $9K, though. Eek!

 

Whether it’s commercial or residential design, I take inspiration from all aspects of this industry. So often you see a small detail that leads you to something else, or points you down a different path. Exposure to all forms of art, design and creativity inform my work on all levels.

Looking forward to Neocon 2018!

xo,

Cassandra

 

 

 

 

Chill Chicago

Meditation | Massage Studio

Last week I was in Chicago for a design conference and stumbled upon this place. What a gem, a respite in the city for busy minds and busy people. I needed it, too. I just left Neocon at the Mart, and if you’ve ever been to any of the Marts for a show, you know what kind of sensory overload it can be. Not to mention, I had a full day of classes and learning, while trying to cram all the products, displays and vendors in between. The elevator lines were ridiculous, so I walked all the way up to the 14th floor, via the stairs, for my first class and worked my way down each floor (again, via the stairs), stopping on the floors I had classes and circling the showrooms and products. Ugh. They were setting up for the block party as I was leaving, and I really felt like I should be there to network and meet more people, but the older (and wiser) I get, the more I realize running myself completely into the ground is counterproductive. I needed some downtime.

A Chicago friend suggested Gilt Bar for dinner and drinks, so I left the Mart and started walking that way to meet my husband, who was still about an hour and a half away. As I was walking, I found this beautiful black storefront, peeked in the window and saw someone swinging in these chairs below. Such a neat space. The manager was outside, saw me looking in the window and invited me in. It was as if the universe knew exactly what I needed at that moment. Calm. Chill is a modern meditation and massage studio with a small retail area and juice bar. It is free of the typical iconography one expects in a yoga/mediation studio. No Buddhas, eastern symbols, ancient pictures or signs. Instead, it is a blank space, free of color and/or anything else that might be a visual distraction. If you know me, you know how much I love white for it’s visual silence and this place is just that, visually silent. A little visit to their website shows exactly how simple and easily approachable their concept is. It’s straight forward. And thank goodness they don’t burn incense, because the only thing that makes me feel like I’m choking more thank incense is an actual cigarette. Aside from the smoke itself, I must be the only person on the planet that finds incense stinky. Their concept, taken from their site is: No incense. No chakras. No dogmas. No gurus.

Just good old fashion sitting. And that is what meditation is, which truthfully is hard enough in itself.

 

 

There are two main rooms for yoga and mediation, one larger room, and the one I loved was the smaller private room. After years in the fitness industry teaching aerobics, spin and yoga, sharing a large group room doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Meditation, like prayer can be more powerful when done with others, but my practice is so personal, I prefer to be alone without any distractions.

 

There are sectioned off chair massage stations behind white curtains, which makes it so easy to not have to get undressed. Such a great concept for popping in, get a neck and back massage without the big production of getting undressed, putting a robe on, putting slippers on, getting under the covers, waiting for the therapist to come in, and then getting dressed again. Sitting down in the chair and having her work on my back for 30 mins was perfect. I love the spa style treatment you get at many places, but sometimes you just need the simplicity of someone working out the kinks without all the fuss.

 

There were thoughtful quotes on the walls, and my favorite line is the last one below. Calm is productive. So often we forget if we aren’t feverishly running around tackling our to-do list and conquering the world, we aren’t being productive. In fact, sitting in meditation is probably the most productive thing you can do for yourself, mentally and physically. It takes us humans a long time to get that, and as much I love my daily meditation, there are still times when I’m tempted to skip it, because it seems there is something more pressing, more “productive,” I could be doing.

 

So next time you’re in Chicago, check out Chill. I promise you’ll be thankful you gave your mind and body the rest. Website here.

xo,

Cassandra

P.S. I highly recommend Gilt Bar and Bavette’s which are next door. on either side just a couple storefronts down. Both are very highly rated in the city and are simple romantic and elegant.

Atlanta Contemporary Architecture Tour

Atlanta Design Festival | Contemporary Architecture and Design

Last weekend we did the Contemporary Architecture Tour here in Atlanta. The tour is an annual event in conjunction with the Atlanta Design Festival and gives tour-goers the opportunity to view some of Atlanta’s private contemporary homes. There were also public spaces on tour, as well. We had one day and just a few hours, so we decided to focus on the private homes, as we knew they would probably never be open again. We did four houses (and stumbled upon an art gallery in one) and focused mainly on the ones closest together for driving purposes.

Unfortunately, there were a ton of people touring the homes, so I snapped the best pictures I could. I skipped over spaces that were crowded with people, as you couldn’t see anything anyway.

 

This first house is probably my favorite from the outside (well, except the brick one, but you can’t beat that one for history). The huge windows and combination of glass, wood and cementitious panels is such a great textural combination. This was probably my least favorite regarding the interior finishes, but this staircase is perfection.

880 Kings Court

Architecture: Brian Ahern
Construction: Darby Construction

The idea for the house is to create a masonry “frame” that allows the siding to figuratively become more than just a means to enclose the building envelope. Both the house and landscape emphasize pattern of materials. For example, two types of cementitious panels are used to create a collage on both the East and West elevations of the house.

 

 

The second house was in walking distance from the first. They had a car parked in the driveway, so a great exterior shot wasn’t possible.

908 Kings Court

Architecture: Kirkman Architects
General Contractor: Cablik Enterprises LLC

This home is an example of Cubist modern architecture located in the heart of Morningside. The home is primarily stick framed with engineered lumber trusses and beams. The exterior is a mix of cementitious panels, haricot stucco, and concrete. Some of the notable design features include: 12 foot ceilings in a recessed living room overlooking the wooded ravine below, large Pella Windows and double sliding doors throughout, full length floating private deck off of the master suite, wet room, shower and tub configurations, ensuite bathrooms for each bedroom.

 

 

The third house we toured was the one I could see myself living in. It’s a great example of adaptive reuse.

Mifflin Hood

Renovation Architect: BLDGS

Mifflin Hood, BLDGS’ renovation of a 100 year old brick building that formerly was the headquarters and showroom of the B. Mifflin Hood Brick Company was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The B. Mifflin Hood Brick Company building served as a showroom and offices for the company from 1921 to 1947. The first portion of the building was built in 1909 and consists of four bays that create a square shaped building. In 1921, when the company bought the building, they constructed a seven bay addition to the east of the original building. In the 1930s, a small rear addition was added to the property. A simple brick cornice, several pilasters, and four 25-light metal windows with keystones comprise the decorative features of the façade. The sloped topography of the site means that the 1909 portion of the building is lower than the later addition. The building has recently been rehabilitated into a single-family residence with an office and studio space. B. Mifflin Hood was an important voice in the Progressive Era movement as he did not use convict labor and fought to overturn the convict labor system —making this property a good example of the City’s social and industrial history.

 

 

The owners of this home also own Brickworks Gallery attached to the building with a separate entrance on the side and one internally. The gallery was named best new gallery in 2016 by Atlanta Magazine. The owner, an artist herself, was onsite that day in her studio. I love to see studios where artists work. I enjoy seeing all the media and tools they use to create. Paper is her main media and when I first walked in, I thought these were fabrics. She has brought these papers back from all over the world, and from the looks of the textiles on their beds, I would say those probably came from her trips, as well.

 

 

The last house was also a favorite inside and out.

Ashley

Architecture: TaC Studios
General Contractor: Principle Builders Group
Landscape: TaC Studios, Install by GardenHood

Ashley was designed for jewelry designers. Located 1 block from the Atlanta Beltline, the clients desired to maintain the large tree in the front yard, as it retains a connection to the original neighborhood’s landscape plan of trees that line the block. The bronzed screen at the front of the house relays the plan for the city blocks of the old 4th ward and screens the setting west sun.

The brick is a material that relates to the surrounding homes. The home has; 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, roof terrace, a garage designed for car lifts, a living level that allows for direct connection to the pool terrace, retractable screen….. The clients had a long wish list. A challenging site, 55’ wide x 146’ deep, the front and rear yard setbacks limited the location of the pool and residence. The grade change of 4 feet from the front door to the rear lounging terrace, presented the opportunity to step the procession through the home and transition the experience from the front door to main entertaining space. Large 12’ tall sliding doors open to the terrace, which can be enclosed by the retractable screens. Each area was planned for seating a minimum of six from the pool area to the roof terrace and media room. Custom millwork throughout the home was TaC studios designed and built locally by McMeubel/ Michael Courtz.

 

 

I find so often that people are either in the historic design and preservation camp or they are in the contemporary design camp. Having studied both in design school, I have developed an appreciation for both and believe both are appropriate, valuable, relevant and have their place.

I hope through this post, you can learn to appreciate this style as a viewer, even if it’s not something you would personally choose to live with.

xo,

Cassandra

Pom Poms: Fun and Functional

Military | Fashion | Interiors | Animals

I’m sure you’ve seen pom poms everywhere by now, but if not, I guarantee you will notice them more after reading this. These colorful balls are trimming just about everything in the fashion and interiors worlds, and if you’ve been shopping with me lately, you know I’m obsessed with them. I noticed this trend emerging last year and thought it might be a one season thing, but these yarn balls are holding strong, and I’m so glad, because I love them.

I did a little research to find where these came from and found a great piece Martha Stewart did on the history of the pom pom. I won’t go into great detail on that, as you can read that piece here.  But, who knew these fun pom poms I wore on my roller skates as a child, and now want on everything I own, have a history rooted in military culture, signifying rank and regiment, and are worn by clergymen, as well? These are two examples of pom poms on military and clergymen hats.

 

In her piece, Stewart mentions South American culture and the light went on; That’s where I know these from. I’ve seen countless images in travel magazines depicting people in colorful, traditional dress with pom poms on everything. The more I looked, the more I realized these pom poms can be found on traditional dress in all regions. Below are images of traditional dress from all over the world with examples of pom poms in varying sizes and placement from headdresses to chest poms.

 

 

They’ve even found their way into couture and on the runway.

 

People also take great pride in dressing their animals during ceremonies and weddings, and in South America, pom poms (tulmas) are used to mark one’s llama out in the field. Omg, aren’t these so cute and intricate? My family raises livestock in south Georgia, and I wonder if we can use these to mark the cows instead of ear tags. 😉 And even more cute, a couple of these images below look like these guys are posing for selfies together.

 

Let’s face it. These bouncy colorful yarn balls are like a party on any outfit or accessory and below are a few things I’m currently in love with. The clutch and sandals can be found here along with several other pom pom accessories and dresses. Did I mention my dog tends to like these fuzzy balls on my shoes, too, and likes to try to grab one if I’m walking by him. We’re working on that. 🙂

Unfortunately I couldn’t trace the link to the original seller, but I found these pieces below on Pinterest.  I love the neutral colored poms, and this boho bag with the shells and poms is just everything. While I was in Key West at Grace on Frances, I picked up this Moroccan pom pom scarf below, which is lightweight for warmer months but big enough to be used as a small throw. I almost always need a little something over me when I’m sitting still in an air-conditioned building. The Moroccan pom pom is a very close cousin of the tassle.

 

The tulmas I mentioned above can be found all over the internet (check Etsy) and can be tied on just about any bag to dress it up without investing in a bag that has pom poms on it, in case these are trending out next year.

 

This collar is one of my favorites from Twine and Twig, and if you read my last blog post about global style, you can see how closely it resembles the tribal collars of the Maasai tribe, but take a look at this collar with the red pom poms on it. This shell and pom pom piece is an 18th century ethnographic piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of jewelry. Don’t the poms punch it up even more? I love these huge intricate collar necklaces with a long simple maxi dress and a strapless, boat neck, or crew neck collar, so the they sit flat on the chest as the focal point.

 

And then my Moroccan pom pom bedding craze, links to purchase the ones below can be found here, here, and here. I’m showing all neutrals because that’s what I love, but if you click on that last link, you’ll find several in bright colors.

 

 

If you follow me on social media you know I was selecting a rug for a client project, looked down, and notice my pom pom sandals matched the oushak rug we chose for her vestibule. Serendipitous. 🙂

 

Can’t wait to see if pom poms find their way into your life after reading this.

Xo,

Cassandra

 

 

Empowering Embellishments

Accessorizing and Changing Lives

Now more than ever, the global, tribal style is trending. It’s something I have always been fascinated with because it represents far-flung places I want to go and cultural experiences I want have. I remember studying indigenous peoples while taking anthropology in college and being captivated by the way people live. Thankfully, with air travel and the global marketplace, the tiniest corners of the world are becoming easier to reach, and we can now experience those places and people and have those intricate beaded collars and necklaces, headpieces, textiles, baskets, pottery and more. I remember studying the Maasai tribe in Africa and distinctly remember wanting one of those beaded collars the first time I saw them. The Maasai have been stacking jewelry much longer than we have, as you can see below.

 

 

I recently finished the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. When a friend recommended it, I thought, I don’t need to read this. I don’t have clutter and don’t keep things stashed away in hopes of using them someday. In fact, I don’t care for a lot of stuff. It clutters my mind and ability to be productive, creative, and efficient. I have always said, I would rather have less things, than things I feel kind of so-so about. Half way into the book, I realized I was wrong. I did in fact need this book. I finished reading the book at about midnight and wanted to get up and start purging right then. I couldn’t wait to get rid of things.

The book was about getting real with myself. Did I need this object, shirt, book, etc? Not just a shallow look at it, but a real, in-depth look at each object in my life. Was it supporting me, fulfilling me, making me feel good, etc.? Was I even using it? Why did I have this stuff? What point did it truly serve? She addresses all the excuses in the book (so-and-so gave it to me, I paid X amount for it, it might fit one day, etc). I began taking a real hard look at my things. Why did I have all this stuff, and truthfully, I already have way less than most people. I had realized it was actually causing me agitation below the surface. The constant passing by things in my house, clothes in my closet, books on my shelves that I really didn’t love, and I mean really LOVE. That’s what this book is about. In fact, in the book, she tells you to ask yourself, does this create a spark for me when I hold it and touch it? She even goes so far as to say, pick up each object and ask yourself this question? Does it create a spark for me? It has been life-changing for me. I didn’t realize how saddled I was with stuff. Why do humans have all this stuff? I mention this because you should read the book, but also because now when I’m shopping, I’m so much more mindful about what I’m buying. Do I need this? What point does it serve? I would rather have less things and each of those things I have, I truly, wholeheartedly love. I would also rather have things that support others and consciously change the lives of other humans and the world. Instead of conspicuous consumption for the sake of having more things, conscious consumption has become my mantra.

 

Brands you can feel good about, that connect you to people and places.

Recently on my trip to Key West, I found the brand Fashionable at Isle Style. Born in Ethiopia, this line of raw, distressed leather goods from around the globe are beautiful and come with a story of hope. Made by women who have overcome prostitution, poverty, addiction, and lack of opportunity in places like Ethiopia and Zambia, these products are empowering women and give them the ability to work, learn new skills, earn a living and are changing their lives, their families, and communities. I took these pictures below at Isle Style of one of their clutches and product information pieces. Aren’t these pieces gorgeous?

 

 

Here are some other pieces you’ll find on their website, and they make shoes and jewelry, too.The bucket bag with tassel are next on my list for Fall.

Then there’s Ten Thousand Villages, supporting people in villages all over the world and protecting the ancient methods, skills and handicrafts of local people, tribes, and cultures. Similar to Fashionable, they are helping people get out of poverty and create a fair wage for themselves to live and provide food and medical care for their families. I bought this ring made by women in Cambodia from bombshell casings leftover from previous wars and pulled the two other designs (an arrow and a chevron) from their website.

 

Another great find I recently ran across is this necklace from Earthbound Trading Co. They don’t have my color online, only this color, but I saw this one in the store and loved it, too. Did you see the price? Earthbound also specializes in multicultural merchandise from international artisans and suppliers from places like Indonesia and India. Look at this woven collar below. Doesn’t it look inspired by the giant beaded collars of the women in Africa above?

 

These pieces speak to my heart. I know they were made with love and hope, by the hands of individual people fighting battles I know nothing about. I know they mean food on the table for someone and one more step away from prostitution, poverty, dependency and illness. These pieces are empowering women across the globe, building confidence by helping them build skills, ensuring children in villages can attend school, and as Marie Kondo suggests in her book, when I touch them, these pieces create a spark for me because of it.

 

I hope you read the book and decide you, too, need less things, and let’s continue to work to consume consciously and truly enjoy the things we do have and free ourselves of the things we don’t.

 

Xo,

Cassandra

 

 

Key West

Shop Galleries

When you tire of bongs, thongs and the Duval Crawl…

Yes, I said it: bongs and thongs. Because let’s face it, you don’t have to look far to see them in store windows, on mannequins, or sitting on carts with all the other smoking paraphernalia. There’s no shortage of tacky, shiny objects and cheap, fluorescent t-shirts on racks pushed out by storefronts in hopes of catching the eyes of those doing the well-known Duval Crawl. The first time you go, it’s sensory overload. Lower Duval has a bit of a stale alcohol smell early in the morning, because that’s where the majority of the historic, iconic, party bars are located. Gypsy chickens scurry around in the streets where their loud crowing can be heard all over town, and a little further up Duval in the evening, you will most definitely pass by the stars of the local drag show hanging out on the street in front of their venue inviting you in to see them perform. Key West is not for modest types, but this is part of the eclectic mixture that makes the island. I have written about the island before and most definitely will again and again. There are rare finds and creative, captivating people all over the island, and one day, I hope to write about a trip from Key West to Havana, Cuba. Until then, I’m collecting stories and pictures.

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Good Health | Good Design

 The Elements of Good Health (and Design).

Just finished up my health food store project last week with a fantastic grand opening, ribbon cutting and outpouring of support from the community for my client’s new business and my design. It’s so rewarding to see clients happy after several months of designing, construction, intense periods of decision making and financial stress, laced with fear, doubt and questions about if their business will work or not. It’s more exhausting than people realize.

When I was approached about this project, I almost didn’t take it at first. The Patels had seen my Tiny Bubbles project and contacted me, and I thought, I’ll at least meet with them and see what they have to say. In the meantime, my mind began pondering, how great can one really make (what essentially boils down to grocery store) look, and how can I really change the way it functions and feels, and should I? Ultimately, stores of this nature are set up in rows to make navigating with a cart easier, as well as identifying the products one wants to purchase. Changing that doesn’t make sense. Speed is key to circulate around, spot things quickly and get out.  For those who do like to linger, read labels, and learn about new products, that needs to be possible, too.

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Cargotecture | Arkitainer

Cargo Container + Architecture

In a world of portmanteaus (Bennifer, Brangelina, Kimye, etc), Cargotecture or Arkitainer (architecture + container) is the combination of two very different words to create a specific type of upcycled, cutting edge architecture, and it’s trending all over the world.

These intermodal containers, aka shipping containers, conex boxes, and freight containers, are standardized containers meant to be shipped across all modes of transportation (truck, rail and sea) in the globalized shipping system. They are designed to be loaded, stacked and shipped based on a system created after WWII in an effort to minimize transportation cost. They are tracked via computer, each having its own number, and moved by cranes and lifts. There are an estimated 20 million containers in use around the globe today.

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Believeland

Cleveland: Reinvention, Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse.

I’m sure when you hear Cleveland not much comes to mind other than cold weather and a gray, dreary, industrial city that lacks arts and culture, but Cleveland has done so much in the last three years. The downtown in particular has come a long way. So much so that it is even becoming difficult to find an apartment in downtown. This city is full of architectural beauties, old industrial buildings, trendy restaurants, and with all the sports venues and a casino within walking distance of the central downtown area, this makes getting around on foot so easy. Cleveland is a model for adaptive reuse, and you can see examples of it all over the city.

Clevelanders are more proud of their town than any group of people I’ve ever encountered. They are loyal fans, strong supporters of their city’s progress and future, and have a great deal of civic pride, hence the nickname, Believeland. Forget your preconceived notions about Cleveland, and check out how this comeback city is drawing people back with the downtown’s current revival. By conserving and converting historic buildings and warehouses into mixed use developments, the city is reinventing itself and urban life by integrating its industrial past into present day cultural experiences.

Giants like I.M. Pei (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building), Frank Gehry (Peter B Lewis building) and others have left their architectural mark on the city, and looking up holds many rewards for those who are aware (as you’ll see below). There are some highly detailed ceilings in many of the old buildings, and the first place we stumbled upon was the 5th Street Arcades. While stopping for coffee at Pour Cleveland, which just so happens to be conveniently located next to the 5th Street Arcade, I found this masterpiece below. The ceilings, tile work in the entrance, and full arcade with shops and restaurants is a little like stepping back in time. These historic arcades (there are two in Cleveland) have played an important roll in social life in Cleveland, both past and present.  Places like this inform my work and make me a better designer. It’s a reminder to me to always consider every possible aspect and detail of a space.

 

Next door to The Cleveland Public Library is the Howard Metzenbaum Courthouse building. This classic Beaux-Arts style building was inspired by the Place de la Corde in Paris and is situated on Cleveland’s Civic Mall and Public Square. Although we didn’t go in, I couldn’t help but take pictures of the statues, railings and sconces on the exterior.

The Cleveland Public Library, also Beaux-Arts style, has incredibly elaborate interiors, including the ceilings. One of my favorite things was how the rug design mimicked the ceiling design. The globe pendant light hangs in the main entrance, and the allegory of art (the painting on the ceiling in a cross pattern) depicts the four major arts: musical arts, graphical arts, industrial arts and theatrical arts. The blue birds on the front pedestals are part of an art installation by Cracking Art Italian art collective. Even the smallest details are beautiful, like the marble floor indicator dial with brass arrow and star, again, another little reward for those who pay attention. These are things that make a place truly special. Unfortunately, technology has replaced so many of these original treasures. A library worker told me the ceiling work was painted on a canvas in the basement and applied on the ceiling.

 

The Cleveland Museum of Art holds its own with many of the finer museums I’ve visited. Again, I was completely blown away to find an art museum of this caliber in Cleveland. With a $650 million dollar endowment, it’s one of the wealthiest museums in the country, and it’s also free. The Neoclassical building, again in the Beaux-Arts style, with Georgian Marble (yes, Pickens County, Georgia for the local readers) is worth a visit on its own. The museum has undergone many additions and renovations and most notably, the North Wing was designed by famous Modernist architect and furniture designer, Marcel Breuer. Several important works and pieces I fell in love with are below, including two pieces by Tiffany & Co.

 

Withing walking distance of the 5th Street Arcades is East 4th Street. This pedestrian only, little side street with restaurants and patios opening out European style, is simply a must. You really need a week in Cleveland to try  all the good restaurants on this street. String lights and flowers line the walk and patio fences, and it’s such a great place to meander and people watch. Micheal Symon is Cleveland’s culinary claim to fame. Every city has their chef that invests in their town and opens one or more really hot dining spots and he is their guy. Two of his restaurants, Mable’s and Lola’s, are on East 4th. We did our own hopping around to try a few places and went to Mabel’s (pics below), Butcher and the Brewer and Erie Island Coffee. I have to say, even though it wasn’t Southern BBQ, it was still pretty good. Red is also a great restaurant right in downtown, and for non-steak eaters like myself, the sides alone were worth the trip.

 

There were so many other beautiful details all around the city. The ceilings below were from inside Jack Casino, also located right in downtown. Hessler Street was another gem I stumbled upon leaving the Frank Gehry building headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art. This historic and charming street on the National Register is located in University Circle and has an annual art fundraiser to help maintain the houses, which unfortunately, looked like they could use a lot of TLC. One of the rarest finds was Hessler Court which runs perpendicular to Hessler St and still maintains the old Nicolson Pavement, or wood block pavement. This is one of the few streets in the U.S. to still have this type of paving material. The Hessler community has kept the wood block for its historical value, and you can see the detail in the pictures below. From a distance, the street looks like a regular cobblestone street. Many streets were paved with wood, because at the time, it was easier to find than stone. Horse hooves were much quieter on wood streets, too. I even loved the trash cans in this district. Cleveland is using every opportunity as a canvas for art. Also surprising, Cleveland claims the second largest theater district in the U.S., outside of New York City. Playhouse Square shines like a beacon down the street with several brightly lit marquees and the largest outdoor chandelier in the world.

 

Cleveland is full of art, history, culture and food. It’s experiencing its own little renaissance and there are many other cultural and dining areas around the city like The Flats and Westside Market, but I’ll save those for the next blog. Hope this inspires you to cast off those old images and ideas of Cleveland and give it a chance. Before I left I had a friend say, Cleveland is the new city of brotherly love, and I couldn’t agree more.  The people are equally wonderful.

Thanks for reading!! XO

Cassandra