Greentail Table : a Cool New Table Top Store in the Boston Area

When a friend starts a business, you want to cheer and be there for them. It doesn’t hurt if you think the store offer tasteful and unusual items.  Such is the case with Greentail Table, a tabletop and home entertaining store my friend Linda de Valpine opened this summer in a vibrant Boston suburb called Newton. Linda tastefully designed the store with a Scandinivian vibe, playing with simple materials and clean lines. The store is small and cozy, yet because of its incredible ceiling height, never feels cramped. Small shops personalize neighborhoods and give them soul. I’m a big proponent of shopping local as much as you can. I urge you to check this store out, it’s worth the detour! I interviewed Linda this winter and share her responses with you below: enjoy!

 

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza


Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
Linda in her store, wearing her signature apron!

Linda, tell me a little about your retail background and how you decided to open a tabletop store.

My background is in retail buying and merchandising having primarily worked for companies focusing on children’s products. Most recently, I co-founded a small Indonesian import business specializing in artifacts and antiques. I knew early in my career that I would ultimately like to own my own store and bring my ideas to fruition–and finally decided to pursue my dream. Tabletop and home entertaining wares are among my favorite items to shop for personally and I knew that I could create an interesting environment and business around them as they are perfectly suited for gifting as well as for personal use.

Tell me about the name of the store. What inspired it?

Greentail was originally short for Green Retailing, with eco-friendly home products being the focus of my original concept, when I incorporated my company back in 2008. I do have a very large percentage of eco-friendly and sustainable products and materials in my current collection, but they are not the primary focus, so I modified the name to include Greentail Table, which represents my focus on tabletop merchandise.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

This is such a wonderful shop! What inspires you when you select the pieces?

Thank you! I am inspired by modern, clean, simple lines and by products that are beautiful and functional and particularly in handmade items of natural materials. The interior of the shop has a very clean, bright and Scandinavian vibe.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Where are the items from (country)?

The items come from all over with a focus primarily on goods from the U.S., Europe (country varies by item), and Japan.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

What trends are you seeing in the table top industry?

I will be heading to market soon to see what new trends will be important for 2015. However, I have noticed that the interest in metals continues i.e. copper, brass as well as the emphasis on beautiful, functional pieces, in a variety of natural materials–which is just what we specialize in! Customers are much more selective when making decisions to bring something new into their homes. They want goods that are aesthetically pleasing and functional, and not necessarily trend-based.

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Peapod Clayworks-Angela Devecchi

How often will you be renewing your selections? will there be some items that we’ll be able to see become store “classics”?

We aim to have new goods coming in the door every month, with a major refresh every 3 months. Summer and Holiday entertaining are of particular importance to our business. We definitely have “classics” and will continue to carry many “go-to” gifts for our customers. For example, we will continue to carry the J.K. Adams line of ash cheese boards, colorful glasses from Spain, Modern-Twist silicone placemats and runners, Terrafirma Ceramics (although one-of-a-kinds–fabulous functional art), and more!

What type of items are most popular?

Our customers really love wooden cheeseboards and interesting servers for cheese. They also love our Chive Pooley Tube Vases, and Loop candleholders of every design,  silicone placemats from Modern-Twist, Japanese bottle openers and tea cups. We also have a lovely selection of accompaniments for cheese from L’Epicurien, which are very popular.

If you could take home one item from your shop today, which one would it be and why?

Oh boy–tough to choose! Right now, I currently have my eye on the Middle Kingdom ceramic nesting bowls in off-white. They are absolutely lovely and functional and each piece is signed by the artisan.

I wish my friend wonderful success with her new endeavor! She sure deserves it. make sure to shop her new online store as well.

Nesting bowls-Greentail TableMiddle Kingdom ceramic nesting bowls in off-white, Linda’s current crush-

Crushing On…

Brilliant design concepts need little words so I will let the images do most of the talking here as I introduce two young creators I admire:

Richard Brendon Cup and Saucer

Richard Brendon Cup and Saucer

 

Richard Brendon

And the creator, above : Richard Brendon, a London based designer, British bone china specialist and entrepreneur who graduated from Kingston University in 2010. Richard’s inquisitive nature has led him to taking an archaeological approach to design.  He believes to design truly innovative work, a firm understanding of what has come before is essential. Richard has a particular skill in identifying and distilling the best elements from the past and transforming them into contemporary designs.  Through his work, Richard aims to bring a new audience to hand crafted luxury goods, and to help regenerate the incredible industries that make his products. Photos: courtesy Richard Brendon website.

ZAK+FOX textile

ZAK+FOX Kaze textile

ZAK+FOX

ZAK+FOX Volubilis Textile

ZAK + FOX company’s founder and creative director, Zak Profera, draws influence from his early studies of conceptual art at the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute. His relentlessly curious nature and adherence to eclecticism have resulted in the creation of an aesthetic that is classic, contemporary, and ever shifting. It is based on the notion that great ideas can come from the most unlikely of places. From the outskirts of Istanbul in search of vintage finds, to the depths of the Black Forest for an open-air expedition, Zak’s travels afar charge his imagination with the same sense of adventure that inspirits his designs. He presently lives and works in New York City with his fox, Shinji. Photos: courtesy ZAK + FOX website.

 

Paola Navone Designs for Crate and Barrel: A Hit!!!

Crate and Barrel describes Paola Navone perfectly in the following bio:

She is a world-renowned architect, designer, art director, interior decorator, industrial planner, creator of events and, in her words, “a little bit of an anthropologist.”

Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

She is a dreamer, she is curious, she appreciates the eclectic. She is Italian by birth but calls the world home. She is a natural entertainer who finds joy in impromptu gatherings around the table to celebrate a beautifully simple menu.

Therefore it only seemed appropriate that Crate and Barrel would invite her to design a dining collection, composed of furniture, linens, tableware and lighting.

I had to stop in my tracks the other day at Crate and Barrel when I saw the beautiful arrangements at the Burlington, MA store. Whimsical and peppy, inviting and elegant are words that come to mind. I am not necessarily sold on all the colors, but they certainly deliver a big bang for lovers of red, white and blue. The greys and whites were my favorites.

Paola Navone- Photo Credit: Barbara Elza HirschPaola Navone designs for Crate and Barrel | Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Como Round Marble Top Dining Table by Paola Navone, a truly stunning combination | Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

Riviera Tall Windsor Chair by Paola Navone offers fantastic scale | Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

RivieraPendantGreySmPNF13

Riviera Small Grey Pendant by Paola Navone for Crate and Barrel | Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

Paola Navone designs for Crate and Barrel | Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

The Como Bench by Paola Navone for Crate and Barrel | Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

Como Loopy Candleholders by Paola Navone for Crate and Barrel | Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

Paola Navone designs for Crate and Barrel | Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

ComoWovenChairWhtLLPNF13

Como White Woven Chair by Paola Navone for Crate and Barrel, a beauty | Photo courtesy Crate and Barrel

What do you think, friends? Curious to hear! Happy Weekend!

 

 

Exclusive Interview with Julie Rogowski, VP of the Boston Design Center

I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Julie Rogowski, Vice-President and General Manager of the Boston Design Center.

I thought it would be interesting to have a chat with Julie as everyone I encounter is always so intrigued by the Boston Design Center. What is it exactly? Where is it? I wanted to speak with Julie so to get a perspective from the inside. What is it like to work for this gigantic Eight Story Design Hub?

ImageThe Boston Design Center located in south Boston on the Waterfront

A few facts before I proceed with the interview:

-The Boston Design Center is part of the MMPI the world’s leading owner and operator of showroom buildings and trade show facilities.

-The Boston Design Center has been in activity for over 25 years.

-There are 87 wholesale design showrooms in the building including 13 contract and 15 kitchen, bath and building product showrooms..

-The Center is THE design destination for interior designers and architects and their clients. Major industry brands offering fabric, furniture, flooring, tile, accessories, lighting, rugs are represented.

-The Center publishes “Cybele” an official publication mailed out to 7000 design trade professionals 4 times a year.

-The Center offers “Tuesday Seminar Series” 8 times a year.

-The Boston Design Center has a wonderful website and its own blog. The center is also actively present on social media.

342, the BDC Designer’s Club, is a private, dedicated space for designers to use for quiet work, client meetings, conferences and even small events.

-the Boston Design center offers Designer on call services as well as the Plush membership for non-designers.

-The Boston Design Center will soon have a FARM (yes, a produce farm) on its rooftop. More on this fascinating news in the interview below.

THE INTERVIEW WITH JULIE ROGOWSKI:

Chez Elza: Tell me a little about you, Julie. How long have you been doing this job and what is your background?

Julie Rogowski:

I have been at the BDC for about 7 and 1/2 years now. I initially came as a consultant, then proceeded to Director of leasing and am now Vice President and General Manager.

I have no background in Design, I have a business degree and my background is in Business and Sales. I grew up in Colorado.

Chez Elza: What do your daily activities consist of? What is your favorite aspect of the job?

Julie Rogowski:

I have a different job every day! I am in charge of overseeing the Center’s marketing, leasing, facilities, windows, relationship with the tenants. My favorite part of the job is that it is never the same, each day brings on diverse and various responsibilities.

Julie Rogowski, photo via The Boston Home Show.

 Chez Elza: Tell me a little about the history of the BDC and design centers in general?

Julie Rogowski:

The Boston Design Center has 26 years of a long and rich history of design, offering exclusive and custom products to designers and their clients. The breadth and depth of these products is unique. There are design centers in New York, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, to name just a few. The BDC services Boston’s core design community. 25 of the 50 largest Boston based architectural firms are located within a 2.5 miles distance from the Center. We just opened in October the 342 Designer Club on the 3rd floor which is a great space for professionals, as it allows for cooperative design work.

Chez Elza: Are there design centers abroad? Do they operate in similar ways?

Julie Rogowski:

There are design centers abroad, absolutely. An example is the Chelsea Design Center in London. They operate on slightly different models. Some are open to the public for instance.

Chez Elza: How has the Boston design Center changed and evolved over the course of 10 years?

Julie Rogowski:

Design Centers are a constantly evolving industry. From a marketing standpoint, the Boston Design Center has evolved a lot over the past years. We have become active participants in Social Media, we have our own blog, we are present on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook. 70 % of our showrooms are locally owned. We are working on showing green initiative, such as the implementation of the Roof Top Farm.

Chez Elza: the Roof Top Farm is such exciting news. I read about it on your Facebook page and love the initiative. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

Julie Rogowski:

Higher Ground Farm did a survey of Boston and found we had one of the largest roof tops in the city. We have a 55,000 square foot space, and this will be the  second largest open-air roof farm in the world.The roof top farm is a great opportunity for us, we love that it is a way to give back to the community. Higher Ground Farm will be growing organic fruit and vegetable for the local restaurant community. Construction starts in February 2013.

Chez Elza: Will we be able to access the farm?

Julie Rogowski:

No, for liability reasons we cannot let people on the roof other than the Farm staff! We are hoping to have a Farm Stand in the Boston Design Center.

Founding Farmer, Courtney Hennessey admires the view from the Boston Design Center future farm. Photo via Higher Ground Farm.

Chez Elza: Do you think design centers will disappear? I hope not!

Julie Rogowski:

Some people say design centers are dinosaur models but I disagree. Design Centers offer designers and their clients with quality brands and products as well as custom solutions and personalized design. Interior designers and architects have a a core client base that appreciates investing in quality.

Thank You, Julie, for taking the time to interview with me!

As a designer, I find the Boston Design Center is a vital hub for my work and could not imagine working without. There is nothing like touching, seeing and appreciating fabrics, furniture and materials on site! Being able to bring samples to my clients when it comes time to select unique elements for the design of their space is vital.

Clearly, our local Boston Design Center is in the NOW and I am thrilled with the cutting edge marketing approach our center is embracing under the initiative of Julie Rogowski!

A bientôt, my friends!

 


 

ABC Home and its Little Culinary Jewel

While visiting with my sisters in New York, I had the wonderful opportunity of having lunch at ABC Kitchen, situated in the ABC Home building. A charming and vast room, with a gloriously high ceiling held by visible (thank you!) wood beams, white brick walls, the restaurant is simply a feast for the eyes and mouth. Created by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and dining mogul Phil Suarez, the restaurant offers a locally grown and organic cuisine of the finest quality. The construction of the restaurant is made of recycled and sustainable materials and decorated with an array of tastefully designed items such as: a medley of softly lit chandeliers, comfy white steelwood chairs, handmade porcelain dinnerware by local artisan Jan Burtz, recycled and pleasantly shabby-chic European porcelain plates.

ABC Kitchen softly lit seating area.

Some of my favorites dishes included the Roasted beets with house-made yogurt, the Spinach, goat cheese and herbs pizza, and the Gazpacho with watermelon and tomatoes:

ABC Kitchen Gazpacho soup served in a Jan Burtz bowl.

The service was impeccable. Young and friendly servers popped in and out of the kitchen at lightning speed, yet managing to seem unrushed,  gracefully depositing plate after plate on tables. My sister is friendly with one of the sous-chefs there, the talented Ross Mendoza, and we thrilled to have a quick chat with him after our meal.

One word: Dessert. Please, please indulge. The toasted almond Panna Cotta is SUBLIME.

Now, on to the store itself. Meandering in the ABC Home aisles I found myself having to take deep, calming breaths. Thoughts going through my head : How can I check out all these beautiful offerings in just under two hours?? Remind me why don’t I live in New York again?! This place truly feels like a museum exhibit!

A few eye-catching sightings:

Handmade Italian dinnerware at ABC Home.
More Italian handmade tableware at ABC Home.
Stunning arrangement of containers and stones on a back lit surface. ABC Home.
ABC Home has a love affair with lights. And it shows…

 

Lovely geometric pendant at ABC Home.

 

Paper bubble pendant at ABC Home.
Stunning Murano Glass chandelier with a painted iron chandelier in the background.
Blu Dot Floor Lamp with red cord at ABC Home.

Textiles and pillows abound. I particularly enjoyed these indigo items:

Indigo Blue Pillows.

 

Indigo Blue blankets and textiles.
Intricate patterned blue pillow by Eskayel.

I loved how the pillows and blankets were organized by color hues:

Superb pillow and blankets arranged on a shelf at ABC Home.

There were many other fascinating floors are items but I just cannot cover all. Make sure to check the Raw section (a space dedicated to industrial vintage finds), the Cobble Hill furniture line:

Cobble Hill furniture upstairs at ABC Home.

And take the time to check out spaces with quietly gorgeous pieces such as above the restaurant, if you go up that staircase, you can find cream and wood and metal sculptural beauties such as:

Jaw dropping imposing French fountain at ABC Home (I would estimate it measured about 4 feet in diameter).

Dashing across the street to the ABC Home Rug building, 10 minutes before closing, I was able to take a glimpse at one of my favorite rug designer, the great Madeline Weinrib:

Madeline Weinrib cotton flatweave rugs.

Voilà, my friends! Hope you enjoyed my tour. Clearly, I shall have to visit ABC Home again very soon.