Saturday, May 2, 2009

Grand Design

A Grand Design
August 25, 2006

When Nancy Zwiener moved to Hartford several years ago, she was unable to find the high-end fabrics, furniture and accessories she wanted locally. She and interior designer Richard Ott met to frequent trips to design showrooms in Boston and New York to complete the project.

When they did the decorating, the client and the designer has decided to team up to bring luxury brands to decorating Hartford. A year ago they launched their own exhibition hall, called DesignSourceCT.

Located in a factory, renovated with style, at the corner of Park Street and Bartholomew Avenue in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood DesignSourceCT solidified the region as a top venue for the design and put it squarely on the map. "We had a person from New York last week, who had heard a lot about it and just seen," says Zwiener.

A one-stop shopping for interior designers and their customers, the showroom offers Fabrics Scalamandre, Brunschwig & Fils and the Old World Weavers; carpet by Stark; by Kravet trimmings and wall coverings, curtains custom accessories previously available only in exclusive showrooms hundreds of miles.

Meanwhile, nearby, at West Hartford's New Park Avenue area, another home-design and renovation took shape locus. During the last decade, starting with the opening of 1996, Home Depot, dozens of home-related stores, specializing in everything, granite tiles, glass shower, have been catering to a public taste for habitat improvement seems far from satisfied.

The cost of painting the outside of the early 20th century that makes its home DesignSourceCT architectural details - the crenellated roof line, the ornaments of diamonds along the top floor, the industrial-size windows. Stylish wide bands and green-brown awnings, glass and steel front at ground level and concrete balconies belie the site.

If the banners exclaiming renaissance Parkville neighborhood are not so obvious, you might think he had stumbled in Manhattan SoHo or meat packing district hip. The lobby is extremely modern DesignSourceCT with four oversized abstract paintings by local artist Gabriela Galarza-Block on the walls and strongly geometric side chairs upholstered dynamic bands until the visitor. Pendant lighting adds downtown flair.

Not long ago, the exhibition room of the spacious interior, more recently, housing and cars has experienced many vicissitudes during the last century, was filled with scrap metal and industrial debris. Sturdy concrete (reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright design the Johnson Wax building) have been sandblasted, concrete floors were stained and other details of the construction of the previous life, such as bricks glass, were cleaned, transforming the space into a luxurious furnishings.

But how an abandoned building became an exclusive address for high-end interior design?

Zwiener, who has decorated 10 homes over the past decades, when she met Ott was hired for a project at his home in St. Louis more than 10 years. When she moved to the Hartford area, he eventually followed.

As they worked together, the idea to open a design exhibition in Hartford, offering "on-trade" in textiles and furniture, have begun to stir.

Zwiener with business acumen and Ott discerning eyes, the couple set up a business plan and began the laborious search of a spectacular space. After many trips and a long court "with potential suppliers to convince them that Zwiener called the" vision center "- and" product quality ", says Ott - they settled in Parkville.

Like the design of showrooms in New York and Boston, DesignSourceCT is open to the public by appointment, but the purchases are only available for trade. " This means that the client works with a designer who guides, inspires and educates, in some cases, the customer. The designer is then able to purchase all products through the showroom.

Zwiener said the beauty and advantage of this "customer / business relationship" is that it helps people avoid the mistakes of decoration, which can be costly. And interior designers DesignSourceCT to help eliminate the stress and confusion of the multitude of choices. "You really can not afford not to hire" a professional, she says.

With over 20,000 square feet of space, the exhibition offers a wide selection of home furnishings. A unique feature of working with a designer, it is about that "everything can be customized to suit the needs of a client, Zwiener said." If you want to change the finish, to amend a piece of furniture to make it longer or wider "-" shorter or larger, "says Ott -" it can be done here, "says Zwiener.

Sharon McCormick of Fairchild House Interiors in Durham said that if it still has the head to a design exhibition in Boston, it makes it much less often since DesignSourceCT open.

"Been there, I'm there every week," said McCormick. "I do not customers. They like to sit in the chair, looking at the quality of furniture. And the fabrics are fabulous. "

McCormick said one of the main advantages of DesignSourceCT is that it saves time compared to travel to Boston and New York and that its customers save a lot of money.

Marilyn Donzila, owner of Glastonbury Marilyn Interiors, agrees that the selection is excellent and DesignSourceCT that for many customers, it reduces the need for frequent trips to New York and Boston.

"This area is in search of a design center," she says. "It really fills a major gap in the corner."

She also said that the atmosphere at DesignSourceCT is not at all intimidating for customers.

"They do a fabulous job," said Kirstie Chadwick Kofoed of Interiors in West Hartford, "very professional. The offerings are just what you might need. I take clients there. The staff looks at the rear to help the designers and their clients. ... After something of this fence is a real time saver. "

In addition to the lines of furniture and accessories to DesignSourceCT is office space on the mezzanine for a period of six interior designers. Beyond Gary Tracy Business Interior Design, was the location of this area since last spring. He said that one of the highlights and major advantages of being based in DesignSourceCT is that the showroom is like a public library, a research design is full of resources available seven days a week .

"I am a defender to be on site," he says.

In addition to interior design services, when a studio custom draperies, custom cabinet makers and a framework for the workshop are also on site. A retail consignment store specializes in the design Find Gently used high-end furniture at reduced prices. An upholsterer working in the lower level.

Another tenant is ground-Ray Lighting and Design Studios, owned by Ray Christensen, a certified lighting specialist Metzger who owned lighting in West Hartford before its closure last fall. Christensen picked up tiny new LED lighting at a recent show, and it is sophisticated with recessed lighting, without glare. Of exterior lighting and the landscape of "discreet" customized for lighting works of art and the restoration and repair of lights, Christensen said: "My job is to do everything is superb."

Lyman Kitchens is next to DesignSourceCT, housed in a former bicycle factory which dates from 1899. Custom kitchen showroom moved to the south of Windsor in 1995, and Brian Lyman, CEO, explains one of the major reasons why the decision was the "construction of the visibility of I-84. There are a lot of exposure. "At the confluence of I-84 and I-91 to the back door, it's a central location for employees, as well as suppliers, distributors and the general public.

Lyman says DesignSourceCT had a positive impact on our business and the neighborhood, which he describes as having been "bombed out," with many abandoned buildings, where he first moved in. Now, he says, it ' there is none.

An early pioneer of the avenue Barthélémy is RLF Home, a commercial design ready-made windows and beds. Owner Robin Fisher has operated his business for 18 years and said it was definitely "more traffic on the street" since the opening of DesignSourceCT. Fisher also owns decorators Source, located in the basement of 30 Bartholomew Ave . Who sells leftover fabric, ribbons, trims, pillows, and "faux pas", according to Fisher, all at discounted prices.

Less than 2 miles, retailers and just off along Park Avenue in New West Hartford have made the neighborhood a different concept of destination.

Surfaces in Stone, for example, which specializes in granite countertops, has conducted its business in a small shop behind TileAmerica! About a year and a half stone surfaces built his own beautiful new showroom on the Avenue, because, said showroom manager Sal Camera, "We have seen much of a chance on retail sales. "

Corthouts Jim moved his company, the Netherlands Kitchens & Baths, of New Park Avenue in November and said he sees a real advantage of being in an area of renovation. Unlike the march of the movement that he used to get at Holland Kitchens was in Bishop's Corner in West Hartford - including many who were just looking around - the people who now make visit his showroom are there for a reason. "

Corthouts said it had more traffic than expected, and predicted the region will continue to improve as old buildings are torn down or given fresh new facades and new buildings continue to rise.

Companies are just two of more than two dozen home design, home improvement, home decoration and construction-related companies that have banded together to promote the New Park Avenue as a home - design district.

"Although not under the same roof, there are 25 [home-related] companies within 2 [square] miles," Camera said. The group hung banners along the main road to four lanes and additional promotional plans to attract owners there.

"People can really hit almost everything that relates to improving the habitat," says Corthouts. "The region is really a takeover."

Meanwhile, DesignSourceCT, which just celebrated its first anniversary, Zwiener said, "phones ringing of the hook."

For more information on the Home Design District of West Hartford, go to

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