Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A walk down Charleston's design district

I've missed another weekend of posting, but better late than never! Things have been crazy busy here; I've taken on my first employee and am in the process of rebranding my graphic design business to reflect that it's transitioning from a single practitioner operation to a firm. In a few weeks it should all be sorted out, but it's meant about 12/7 (as opposed to 24/7--mercy) for the past several days!

I made myself break away from the desk on Thursday evening, though, for the much-anticipated (at least by me) spring design walk on upper King. For those who don't live in Charleston, King Street is a rather cosmopolitan shopping boulevard in historic downtown Charleston; CNN has called it the "Rodeo Drive of the Southeast". A bit north of Calhoun Street (a major downtown thoroughfare), though, King Street has seemed rather downtrodden in the past. During the past few years there has been a revival of sorts, with lofts and hip new restaurants going in... and even better for the likes of someone like me, design shops of various stripes: lighting, furniture, home decor, commercial decor, etc. Now it's quickly becoming known as Charleston's design district.

(For more on the revitalization of upper King, read Caroline Fossi's tidy, very good article in the Post & Courier. Unfortunately I believe the Post & Courier now charges for its archived stories, but you may be able to locate the article elsewhere.)

Likely based on the highly successful French Quarter Art Walk a bit to the south on Charleston's peninsula, the design walk opened the shops up to attendees without any unwanted sales pressure, whether real or imagined, accompanied by some rather upscale refreshments... very nicely done! No plastic wine glasses here.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite items from the evening...

Interior design shop Dwelling made the top of my list Thursday evening. It's hard to choose favorites here, but the sight that greeted my delighted eye as I first entered the shop is to the right: a modern little living room vignette. Coffee tables can often be boring but this one, with its Asian-inspired curves and dark lines, is pure elegance. I'm confident Carisa (Bravo's Top Design) would love the retro green pillows.

Another from Dwelling: this bedroom vignette was *much* more striking in person. It has all the right elements, which can be distilled down to two words: comfort and style. I especially liked the padded headboard and stainless steel desk lamp used on the bedside table.

Just one more from Dwelling! Unlike the bedroom above, it's not high on comfort... but it's definitely high on style. I imagine it can be difficult to pull off the equivalent of a bus stop bench with flair, but this designer has done it. I'd love to have that in my bedroom or foyer.

This scene, from restaurant Chai's Tapas, wasn't on the design walk's list of participating venues, and indeed Patrick shot this picture through a wrought iron gate/fence since the restaurant was closed at the time, but the fountain and modern courtyard decor caught our eye as we walked by. The camera angle (necessitated by the fence) perhaps do it justice, but in person it was quite striking.

Two displays of teas caught my eye at the French Hare. (www.frenchhare.com) Elegantly designed, each silken tea bag was housed in a paper pyramid stretched tall, with a single paper leaf atop a flexible wire stem extending from the tip. Each pyramid even had its own little square ceramic serving platters shaped perfectly to its base. I was sorely tempted and may go back for these.

I'm hoping I have the name of the shop right in this case, since we came home with quite a collection of photos and only our memories to match them up with the proper locales... but I believe this sophisticated little table set for two resides in the rear of Lesesne. (www.shoplesesne.com) The wood and the craftsmanship of the table itself was stunning.

Besides memories of all the eye candy and a determination to come back to many of the shops on a more regular basis, strangely enough I came home with a hefty bar book from Maine Cottage. (www.mainecottage.com) Can't wait to try out some of those recipes! Though I don't take time away from my business often enough to indulge, an interesting cocktail is one of my favorite things. When my schedule becomes sane again (stop laughing), it's off to Total Wine for whatever ingredients I'm missing.


Eric said...

Probably a typo, but I think the restaurant was "chai's tapas" and it was open but at that time most of the customers were eating inside. I really liked the outdoors restaurant design - very modern with the waterfall and an abundance of plants.

Tiffany said...

Good eye! Thanks for catching that. Fixing it now...

(If ever there was a lovely spring evening to eat outside in the courtyard, Thursday would have been it! If they were open it is quite odd they were not taking full advantage of their stunning courtyard, but I don't dispute the fact they could have been open. People can sometimes be strange.)