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Awa Sal Secka (Shanti), Kevin McCallister (Caesar), Chris Hoch (Blackbeard), Christopher Mueller (Jake), and Lawrence Redmond (Samuel) in Blackbeard at Signature Theatre // Photo: Christopher Mueller

Blackbeard Costume Designer Helps Pirate Live His Best Life

For Signature Theatre’s world premiere of Blackbeard, the cast and crew has to look magnificent. The famed pirate, upon learning he is wanted by the British Army embarks on a fantastical journey across the globe to raise an undead-pirate army from the depths of the sea. To fully depict this fantastical spirit, costume designer Erik Teague was able to create a variety of colorful and outer-worldly outfits for this show, and he spoke to On Tap about his experience working on the production before the show begins its run on June 18.

On Tap: What brought you into costume design?
Erik Teague: I was that weird kid who loved comic books and movies, still true today, but the oddball component is that I really enjoyed opera. I thought I wanted to be an opera singer. As I studied, my love of music never changed, and I realized the thing that was exciting about the performance was the transformation. I finally realized,  oh wait I’m just a designer, okay great!

Illustrations: courtesy of Signature Theatre

OT: Did you know the Signature team prior, if not what was the collaborative process for you in terms of creativity?
ET: This is my very first time working with the team at Signature, they are a company I have long admired because of the ambitious nature of what they do. It is always interesting to come into a different artistic family than your own, this group of people has a long history of working together. I’ve had to figure out where to fit in, but overall it has been very good, we have been able to communicate with each other well and share ideas fluidly.

OT: Why did you choose to join the team for Blackbeard?
ET: An adventure fantasy musical that centers around pirates, I thought that was super exciting, and super in my artistic wheelhouse. Meaning there would be lots of sword fights and swashbuckling and swinging on ropes, which I find very interesting. Building costumes for these types of performances has different methods than other performances where you just walk across the stage and deliver your lines. The construction methods are different, it is always exciting to find out what a performer needs to be supported to do their choreography.

OT: What is your favorite moment of the show?
ET: There are a couple of good ones, but I will say the I am pretty proud of the zombie pirate horde. We have done some highly theatrical gestures, by a couple, I mean we have created a horde of skeleton pirates who glow in the dark by using tandem puppets. Three of them can walk in a line together, I worked with Kylie Clark, a talented artist who made the puppets, and helped to get them functional.

OT: What is your favorite costume in the show, if any?
ET: Definitely Blackbeard’s two coats, they are a wonderful show in contrasts. His first coat is very distressed and lived in, and looks like it could have walked off the Pirates of the Caribbean movie set. Versus the second coat, his afterlife coat. Blackbeard is living his best life in his afterlife. He has been beheaded as per the real history. He finally becomes the myth and legend he has been trying to live up to the whole time. I gave him the opportunity to look the best, [a] red velvet coat with black beading all over it, and black Venetian lace trimming.

Blackbeard opens at Signature Theatre June 18, running through July 14. For more information and tickets visit www.sigtheatre.org.

Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; 703-820-9771; www.sigtheatre.org

Photos: Trent Johnson

Behind the Bar: Design Edition

In a city filled with bars touting the best craft cocktails, local beer programs or even late-night eats, what’s bound to make patrons stick around and even more importantly, come back time and time again? The atmosphere created by a bar can make or break its overall experience, no matter how good the drinks on hand.
Two new additions to DC’s ever-growing cocktail scene, however, prove that providing the best of both is possible. And while the overall style and décor of these locations is not similar at first glance, they share a common goal: unpretentious, enjoyable sips in atmospheres unlike anything else in the city.

Astoria

Eli Schwarzschild

Owner Devin Gong and Bartender // Partner Eli Schwarzschild

“I always rode trains when I was little, and I loved the dining car of the train where you had the bar in the middle and the seating on either end,” owner Devin Gong says of the narrow but inviting locomotives that inspired the look of his newest venture, Dupont Circle’s Astoria. “When I first walked in, it was a very long and narrow space, and it reminded me a lot of a train car.”

With the help of CORE architecture + design, Gong brought his childhood nostalgia to life. With nods to his flagship spot on H Street, Copycat Co., the space invokes the kind of intimate setting you’d perhaps get from a drink on a bustling train car in the midst of a grand adventure. A talented artist himself, Gong painted the three works of art that hang over large, cozy booths – they even look like train car windows at first glance.

It’s a subtle callout, however, and Gong was careful to make sure he didn’t “hit people over the head” with his interior inspirations. Similarly understated is the bar’s approach to food and drink. Astoria’s beverage director Eli Schwarzschild points out that while the concept is inherently creative, they aren’t trying to overthink things.

“It’s a combination of classics paying homage to drinks that have stood the test of time,” Schwarzschild explains. “If the drinks aren’t broken, don’t fix them is partially our philosophy. We want to respect the drinks. But on the other hand, there’s creativity in a sense. We have originals, but it’s not about us per se. We’re just trying to put out drinks that could perhaps be mistaken for a classic; not so many infusions, just going back to the basics and staying true to the ingredients, which is a very French idea.”

One thing that’s present at Astoria but not necessarily at other outposts serving classic cocktails is an array of doodles flanking the menu, hand-drawn by Schwarzschild himself. They’re incredibly detailed and time-consuming to produce, so why do it?

“Not many people notice it, but it’s the one person in a million who does that makes it worth it,” Schwarzschild says. “It’s just that characteristic of art that is almost existential. Whatever you decide and whatever matters to you, that’s what it is. It’s kind of meanderings – left-brain kind of thoughts. As long as there’s a feeling there, I let my brain go with it.”

The bar provides a welcome combination of outside-the-box elements with unpretentious but well-crafted drinks. At the end of the day, it’s clear Gong and Schwarzschild are able to incorporate personal passions into this endeavor, and the bar is even better for that energy.

“I don’t have lofty goals to change the scene or anything like that,” Gong concludes. “I know what I do, and for me this is more self-indulgent than anything else.”

Hummingbird

HUMMINGBIRD
St. Germain
Punt e Mes vermouth
Lemon
Honey
Cinnamon
GF

Astoria: 1521 17th St. NW, DC; www.astoriadc.com

Hex

Kit Yarber

General Manager Kit Yarber

The second floor of The Passenger in Shaw was home to a sporadically used space, only opened on the rare occasion that the neighborhood bar was hosting a band. Kit Yarber saw an opportunity to transform the underutilized level into what he now describes as the “a little goth, a little kitschy” Hex.

As general manager of the newly minted space, Yarber decided the décor and menu would take cues from astrology, tarot and the occult. Numerology comes into play as well, as “hex” indicates the number six and the menu is broken up into six categories. All 12 astrological signs are represented on the menu, and Yarber says he based it off people he knew when deciding what sign to name the drinks after.

“It’s been funny because people come in and want to order their sign, of course, and they’re like, ‘How did you know?’” he explains. “I just tell them I based it off of someone who was that sign.”

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can draw a rune – or divinatory symbol – from a bag behind the bar, and you’ll be presented with a drink that corresponds to the symbol hidden on the menu. There are also runes flanking the wall to the right of the bar, along with a stuffed unicorn head, lovingly called Ophelia.

“I always loved the Victorian haunted mansion, pictures on pictures on pictures look,” Yarber says of the plethora of design elements that adorn the walls and tables. “We talked about having a curio aspect. Everything kind of mismatches but it ends up working out together. We just had fun with it.”

The resulting space is a nod to the supernatural and spiritual without feeling spooky. It’s overall feel is intimate and inviting. Since opening, it’s been a mix of lovers of the elements present at the bar and those who are completely unfamiliar that have stopped in for one of Yarber’s creations. The spot has even caught the attention of local pan-Pagan group The Firefly House, who plans on hosting a handful of regular happy hours at the spot. You can also catch occasional tarot readings.

Whether you’re the type to pull a daily tarot reading and analyze everything through the lens of the zodiac or just want to enjoy a drink in an inviting space, Yarber wants Hex to be a place where you can sit, relax and connect.

“I wanted Hex to have a different ambiance,” Yarber says. “I love the craft cocktail scene and craft cocktail bars, but I feel like they get stuck in a certain era. I don’t want it to feel pretentious. I just want it to be chill. I want to get people up here who love talking to people and [offer] a different ambience that can still be appreciated as something unique.”

The Incantation

THE INCANTATION
Rittenhouse Rye
Sacred Bond Brandy
Averna
Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Punt e Mes vermouth
Orange bitters
Angostura bitters

Hex Bar: 1539 7th St. NW, DC; www.hexbardc.com

Brian Miller and Jason Maringola // Photo: Trent Johnson

Streetsense Cultivates Neighborhood Hospitality

Bars are more than the drinks they serve. Behind the beer, cocktails and spirits is the lay of the land, the setting, the vibe. It goes without saying that without good product, any establishment will falter, but a backdrop that melds with its culinary offerings will only serve to heighten the experience for the customer.

One way to achieve this elevated interior ambiance is by allowing professionals to take over, because it’s often not as simple as taking the ideas from your brain and putting them into practice.

That’s where Streetsense comes in. The company is described as an experience-focused design and strategy collective, and has continually delivered spectacular interior architecture on an international level. You’ve likely seen their decadent design around the District, including at Ivy City’s Coconut Club, Shaw’s The Dabney and Penn Quarter’s Daikaya, to name a few.

Coconut Club // Photo: Rey Lopez

One step into their Bethesda office and you’re greeted with a number of creatives all huddled up, sketches adorning drafting boards, posters lining the walls and retro knick-knacks placed throughout the space. And while the Streetsense office has a certain feel, the company’s aesthetic is as diverse as their extensive roster of clients.

“We do more than just design and we think differently because we actually understand the analytics and demographics of our areas and bring people to the table,” design director of interior architecture Jason Maringola says.

Variables for the Streetsense process include the typical timeline, budget and service, but one goal that never wavers regardless of scope is the team’s ability to connect with the client. This can mean traveling to South Carolina and visiting dive bars or hopping on an international flight to tour dojos in Japan.

“There are a number of restaurant projects I’ve worked on where we’ve gotten to travel with the clients to really dig in beyond mood boards, Pinterest and Instagram and figure out what they’re trying to draw from,” says Brian Miller, senior design director of interior architecture of Edit Lab at Streetsense. “We want to know how they think people get together over food and drinks, how people socialize, about how communities are oriented around those concepts.”

Daikaya // Photo Nikolas Koenig

This part of the process is what has always driven Miller and Maringola, who both grew up with a strong unwavering desire to work in architecture. As a child, Miller’s family moved around from town to town and he took note of buildings commanding attention. And for Maringola, even at an early age he’d memorize floor plans of homes his parents toured, sketch them out and offer critiques.

The collective childhood wonderment of all things hospitality design is reflected in their day-to-day, including the neverending goal of getting inside the brains of bar and restaurant owners to render artistic mockups that reach beyond visually interesting interpretations of what could be pretty or trendy. Instead, Streetsense seeks to establish a dominant thematic concept able to operate as a focal throughline. From there, they’ll determine one clear option with secondary layouts.

“I think we try to drive an approach that’s not to get us excited or the client excited, but about the people walking in the door of that business,” Miller says. “What’s going to make a really good experience for them? Is it a quiet night out? Is it a birthday?”

Maringola adds that their design isn’t really for the client. And while discussing the looks and feels of their babies, striking a balance between doing something personal and artistic is the toughest part of the process.

“Our clients are taking a risk, they’re putting a lot of money out to create a space and to trust us. The most rewarding thing for a client to tell us is that it’s better than they imagined. Most clients aren’t visual, so when they see the space and people interacting in the space, it goes from night to day. Then, they realize we really created something unique for the community,” Maringola says.

Moxy Atlanta // Photo: courtesy of Moxy

Some of the clients they work with aren’t backed by a corporate entity with limitless coffers, Miller says. When dealing with mom and pop shops, decisions are made with an understanding that livelihood could be on the line.

On the flip side, with larger clients, out of towners might require an entire education on the culture of a location or neighborhood. What makes this particular area unique? What does it need? For this, Streetsense sets up tours and activities to help the companies learn about their future clientele.

“The work our studio does [is] with extremely neighborhood driven places,” Miller says. “Clients look to us for that understanding, and some of our more exciting projects are when we get to work on a lot of places within a small area. This allows us to kind of create an ecosystem like [we created] in Blagden Alley.”

Big or small, Streetsense’s interior hospitality designs craft unique experiences for visitors. And with backdrop details such as lighting, theme and decor under their supervision, our favorite restaurants, coffee shops and bars can do what they do best; serve you.

“I always think of it as production design for a movie,” Miller says. “If that setting isn’t right, you know it’s not right.”

“But, the big thing is we could do all the beautiful design in the world but if the food sucks, service sucks, whatever we do won’t mean a thing,” Maringola says laughing. “That’s the catalyst.”

To learn about Streetsense, visit www.streetsense.com.

The Bygone // Photo: Maxine Schnitzer
Photo: courtesy of Danielle Sauter

Insta Fashion In The District

DC’s sense of style has improved a ton over the last decade. While there are still those confined to the rigid rules of offices – meaning pencil skirts and blazers, and not always in the best fit – a lot of locals have begun to display their creative side through garments and fabrics. Though some of this is just an organic change in mindset, there have been tastemakers in the District using their own sense of style to lead the charge. We talked to a few of the many stylish people in the city and asked about the life of an influencer, where DC’s trending and the feedback of their Insta followers.

Photo: courtesy of Cory Luckett

The Fashionable Man
Cory Luckett

On Tap: When did you start your blog? What sparked that decision, particularly with DC in mind?
Cory Luckett: I probably started five years ago, and the reason why I started was because my aunt told me I should. My aunt was talking to me about my interests, and how I enjoy clothes. One day, she was like, “You should start a blog,” and I immediately figured it was a good point.

OT: How do you differentiate between things you’re sponsoring and things you just enjoy?
CL:
I try not to differentiate at all. I try to keep everything as organic as possible. I try to make it appear to the outside audience like everything is authentic, because ultimately it is. I’m not going to take a sponsorship I’m not going to wear from a company I don’t like. Just because I got free shoes, it doesn’t mean I’m going to post about [them]. If there’s shoes that I’m getting paid to promote that I really like, and if there’s shoes that I bought at a boutique that I really enjoy, the posts for those are going to be very similar. I’ll shout out both companies. I want to show that I like these things, and I always try to mix it up.

OT: How much research do you do before putting together outfits?
CL:
I don’t do much. I dress through observation, and my style is based on things that I like that I see people wearing. It’s really just my personal sense of style.

Follow Luckett on Instagram @the_fashionable_man and check out his blog at www.thefashionableman.com.

Photo: Pablo Reyes

District of Chic
Elisabeth Pendergrass

On Tap: How would you describe DC fashion?
Elisabeth Pendergrass:
I’ve always thought of it as a melting pot, in a way. There are a lot of international people that have moved here, and it’s a transient city so you get influences of Southern style and New England preppiness and an urban element as well. It depends on where you are, but it’s not like New York because you just don’t have the [same amount] of people. It’s fairly diverse and it’s definitely more than just suits.

OT: What kind of feedback have you gotten since embarking on this journey?
EP:
At the beginning, there was a little bit more negative feedback because you’re putting yourself out there, [but] nothing that was ever enough to make me feel like I made a mistake. I’ve definitely discovered this supportive community through it and met some incredible, creative people through the years. There’s definitely been great feedback from readers, and it’s always really encouraging.

OT: Do you go through waves of trends?
EP:
I’m just always looking at trends. If it’s a beauty or fashion trend, I put a lot of work into it. The most intensive work I do that people don’t see is photo editing in [Adobe] Lightroom. That’s what I spend the most time on. That, and writing content. I try to be very thoughtful.

Follow Pendergrass on Instagram @districtofchic and readher blog at www.districtofchic.com.

Photo: courtesy of Danielle Sauter

Blonde in the District
Danielle Sauter

On Tap: How did Blonde in the District begin?
Danielle Sauter:
I started Blonde in the District in 2014 as a creative outlet with the goal to encourage women to look at style as a tool to boost self-confidence as it had done for me.

OT: What are some things about DC’s fashion scene you’ve noticed since starting your blog?
DS:
DC fashion has come a long way from when I started my blog. I’m seeing more people having fun with what they wear – as it should be – and breaking outside of the whole DC stigma of professional wear. I used to think DC style was stuffy, but I’m happy to see it changing. I think DC style influencers have had a huge impact in shaping DC’s fashion scene for the better.

OT: How much experimentation do you go through when piecing together outfits?
DS:
I do love to experiment with trends, but I won’t wear something just because it’s on trend if I don’t love it. I spend a lot of time putting together outfits, especially if it’s for a styled shoot. I always put thought into what I wear each day. You never know who you’re going to run into, so it’s best to be prepared.

Follow Sauter @blonde_inthedistrict and check out her blog at www.blondeinthedistrict.com.

Photo: courtesy of Anchyi Wei

Anchyi Adorned
Anchyi Wei

On Tap: What inspired you to start displaying your style?
Anchyi Wei:
I’ve always had people stopping me to ask about my outfits, but what really kicked this off was my coworkers taking photos of what I wore to work every day and putting them on a Tumblr [account] called “Anchyi at Work.” After a couple years, and with much encouragement from local bloggers, I started to transition that into my own blog [and] Instagram.

OT: How much does the work culture of DC play into its fashion scene?
AW:
It is still conservative and practical overall due to the nature of most of our workplaces. Plenty of people love what I wear but say they can’t get away with it on a daily basis. I work as a contractor in a federal agency, and I definitely stand out. If we collectively all take “workwear” to another level and incorporate more creativity, I don’t see why it can’t become the norm.

OT: What’s your favorite part of keeping up with the fashion world?
AW:
Putting together outfits is the most fun part of the whole process of content creation. I generally don’t do too much research but already have an idea for styling based on trend reports, street style and runway images I’ve came across. If I’m stuck about an item, I’ll Google “street style” to get some ideas.

Follow Anchyi Wei on Instagram @anchyi and read her blog at www.anchyiadorned.com.

A Costume Conversation with Trove Founder Kelly Carnes

Photo: Caitlin Beam

“Halloween doesn’t hold the monopoly on dressing up.” DC-based Kelly Carnes, founder of the new virtual store Trove Costumes, is extremely enthusiastic about accurate costumes. Her new e-market is set to launch this month and will offer people a vast database of rentals, with elaborate costumes for anything from themed parties to cosplay-friendly conventions. In the lead-up to the store’s opening, we chatted with Carnes about how there’s no excuse not to wear costumes, how their staying power goes beyond October 31 and how pop culture fashion affects her everyday wear.

On Tap: What made you want to start Trove Costumes?
Kelly Carnes: I think the power of play is transformative and Trove will make costumes accessible to everyone. People can make money renting out their own costumes or save money by renting other people’s costumes, giving them greater access to this creative, empowering medium.

OT: What would you tell people that may be skeptical about dressing up for a convention or movie premiere?
KC: Costumes are empowering. One of the beautiful things about the cosplay community is how inclusive it is. Every kind of body and ability can be celebrated. There’s particularly strong representation by cosplayers of different ability, in part because assuming the qualities of a character you admire and respect can make you feel more powerful.

OT: How often do wardrobes from pop culture inspire your personal style on a day-to-day basis?
KC: A lot. I’m wearing Deadpool leggings right now! I find so much creative expression in curating and donning elaborate costumes to bring a character to life that to then put on “muggle clothes,” as we say, makes me feel like Superman putting my Clark Kent glasses back on. I don’t feel fully myself. Living this costume lifestyle has made me far more bold in my style choices.

OT: What are some of the elaborate costumes people can look forward to on Trove?
KC: It will serve as a platform for people to exchange directly with each other. But as its founder and best customer, I will certainly be renting out my extensive wardrobe on Trove! I have a list of almost 300 costumes and accessories I’ll be listing in my wardrobe, which include some of my most valuable and elaborate pieces.

For more information on Trove Costumes, visit www.trovecostumes.com.

Photo: Deb Lindsay

Crafty Cocktails

It’s not always what’s on the inside that counts, and these craft cocktails are living proof. Whether it be ornately etched glassware, literary inspiration or food accompanying the rims of the glass, these drinks provide something both enjoyable and tasty to imbibers.B

Photo: courtesy of Dirty Habit

Black Oleander at Dirty Habit

The Ingredients: Tanqueray Gin, Bols Genever, acai, blackberry, fromager ash, citrus earl grey foam
The Design: Flowers, foam and fun color – this summer creation from Dirty Habit’s Drew Hairston is a triple threat of delicate design elements rolled into one refreshing drink. Plus, the intricate etching on the glass provide a perfect home to all of its refreshing ingredients. 555 8th St. NW, DC; www.dirtyhabitdc.com

Photo: courtesy of Truxton Inn

The BFG at Truxton inn

The Ingredients: Infused Brooklyn gin, cucumber, mint, peppercorn, Q tonic
The Design: Inspired by Roahd Dahl’s book of the same name about a big friendly giant, this drink is served in a goblet that gives you a full view of the peppercorn, herbs and citrus that color this literary cocktail. Plus, you can customize the liquor to mixer ratio by adding your desired amount of Q tonic. 251 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.truxtoninndc.com

Photo: courtesy of The Mirror

Classic Daiquiri at The Mirror

The Ingredients: Light rum, fresh lime juice, simple syrup
The Design: Jeff Coles, The Mirror’s co-owner and head barkeep, explains that this classic cocktail is served in a sherbet glass, providing an example of Bohemian crystal from the Checz Republic. The delicate glass adds a twist of elegance to any drinking experience with a style of etching called Queen’s Lace and a beautiful gold rim. 1314 K St. NW, DC; www.themirrordc.com

Photo: courtesy of Bourbon Steak

Fireside Chat at Bourbon Steak

The Ingredients: High West Campfire, English Breakfast Tea, walnut bitters
The Design: This smoky cocktail combination is both indulgent and refreshing, but what really sets it apart is the delivery – expect the drink to be hand-delivered to you tableside in a custom barrel. 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.fourseasons.com/washington/dining/restaurants/bourbon_steak/

Photo: Deb Lindsay

Bloody Mary + Bloody Maria at El Bebe

The Ingredients: Three Olives vodka (Bloody Mary), Jose Cuervo Especial silver (Bloody Maria), house made bloody mary mix, fresh lime juice, Bebe spicy rim
The Design: El Bebe is launching two variants of the boozy breakfast classic to accompany their new brunch program. While one features tequila and the other vodka, both are served in tall, embossed glasses and flanked by none other than a mini quesadilla. 99 M St. SE, DC, Ste. 120
www.el-bebe.com

Maps Glover // Photo: Timoteo Murphy

A Day In The Life With DC Artists Making Social Impact

Living in the DMV spoils us.

We have free access to world-class art at nearly every turn. But beyond its revered and iconic collections, the District is also home to an incredible array of artists working in experimental forms, crossing disciplines, and breaking down boundaries between tradition, style, design, politics and social justice. These artists are creating and chronicling the cultural landscape of DC today. They are not just leaving their mark on the city, but are also asking us to examine our own place in it – in a multitude of unexpected ways.

Consider Northern Virginia native JD Deardourff, with works installed everywhere from overpasses to the bottom of a pool, who is helping to literally repaint the face of the city. Or Xena Ni, a designer who describes her interactive installations as “civic journalism storytelling physical sculpture lawsuit art,” and that’s in addition to her line of feminist superhero underwear. Or a performance by Maps Glover, which may as well be a portal into a whole other experience of the world you think you inhabit.

While their mediums and inspirations vary, their commitment to making a social impact will never go out of style.

Photo: courtesy of JD Deardourff

JD DEARDOURFF

On Tap: There is sometimes tension around the term “street artist” and what it means to different people. Do you identify as a street artist?
JD Deardourff: I probably would just say artist. The way I got into it was primarily as a screenprinter –  that’s sort of my go-to art form – and one of the cool things about it is a rich tradition of wheatpasting and dissemination of imagery, either giving it away or pasting it in alleys or on light boxes. I was doing it before I was doing more “corporate stuff.” I’m an artist who does screenprints, murals, paintings and collages.

OT: When you’re getting ready to start a new project, what are the main factors that you consider and what motivates your creative process? What draws you toward a new project?
JD:
I like to think of it as a “one for them, one for me” situation. Some of the work I get to do pays for me to do other projects for free. Murals and commissions are probably half the time. The other half of the time is some personal projects I’ve been working on. I had a show last year where I sold all of the artwork I had and it was also the release of my first zine, Uncanny Fantastic. It’s basically a catalog of all of the personal art that I’ve done in comic book form. I’m working on volume two of that zine, so making a new body of work, which will correspond to the pages of the zine I’m going to drop in September.

OT: It seems like your career has progressed pretty quickly. Does it have to do with DC?
JD:
It feels like I planted a shitload of seeds like five years ago and the way that they’ve built up is that they all bloomed simultaneously. For example, conversations for one mural project I’ve been working on near Hotel Hive started in 2016. Sometimes, there’ll be something that’s like two years in production and that will coincide with something where I get an email the week before.

OT: What are some of your favorite projects?
JD:
I love doing shows. Last year, a highlight was a solo show I did with CulturalDC’s Mobile Art Gallery at Union Market. And then I’m super proud of Uncanny Fantastic. The recycling truck for the DC DPW [Depart of Public Works] has my artwork on it. This pool in Silver Spring is super cool. It’s in a building call Central. When the art direction is solid, those murals look the best.


JD CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
My family (especially my eight-year-old nephew), my genius girlfriend Kelly + my friends, but mostly just my dog Bruce
Spotify, live shows + music (The Ramones, The Clash, classic rock)
Comic books 
Actually making artwork
Pop’s SeaBar
My little field notes book


OT: Do you think that mural arts are rivaling the “high art” that DC is known for?
JD:
I think definitely it’s one of those things where this art form has gained momentum. More and more people are commissioning murals. Initially, there were more bar and restaurant-type clients and now I think it’s cool to get, for example, law firm types interested in that kind of vibe. You get more of a critical mass. I don’t know if it’s a bubble sort of situation, but it’s definitely on the uptick.

OT: How do you feel that impacts both the physical and cultural landscapes of the city?
JD:
I think it’s good. For instance, Pow! Wow! just happened in NoMa and it’s is super cool in terms of the murals making that neighborhood what it is. It’s all the flavor. I understand some people might call it art-washing or make arguments that it can be bad for the community, but I don’t feel that way. And I think those battles are kind of over. It’s creating a cool flavor that wasn’t there 15 or 20 years ago.

Find Deardourff on the web at www.deardourff.com and on Instagram @jddeardourff.

Photo: Peter Gonzalez

XENA NI

On Tap: What brought you to DC and the art space that you exist in now?
Xena Ni:
I had just finished my fellowship at Code for America and was leaving Oakland where I was living. I was just sitting on the train and intentions for the next year popped into my brain. I wanted to make weird art with people. I was keeping an eye out for that when I moved to DC. I’d been assured by one of my coworkers that there were people doing weird things in DC.

OT: And did you find them?
XN:
Yes! I’m a designer and I’ve always been adjacent to art. But it was really coming to DC and finding my dream job that gave me mental space to take my art practice more seriously. An organization that’s been really great in DC has been The Sanctuaries. I participated in one of their fellowship programs. We were learning more about how art can respond to events like protests, and also to think more about how to work with communities in a respectful way.

OT: Do you feel like the people or places or themes or issues that you’ve encountered here have guided the work or the projects that you’ve chosen in a specific way artistically?
XN:
I have met a lot more working artists or artists who are taking their practice seriously, and realized how important it is to just know and be friends with other artists who are going through the grind. Collaborations have been so energizing.


XENA CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
The archive (a daily writing ritual)
My IUD (affordable healthcare and reproductive freedom make so much possible)
A clunky, squeaky, dependable Raleigh Sprite bike
Public parks (Kalorama Park, Kingman Island, Banneker)
Overflowing cart of art supplies


OT: What are a few projects you’ve worked on in the past couple of years that really stand out to you?
XN:
One that’s been really top of mind: the most recent iteration of it is called “Transaction Denied” and it is a room-sized, immersive multimedia installation, which showed at UMBRELLA in April. It tells the story of what it takes to apply for food stamps in DC and what happens when the government spends a lot of money to make the system work, but there’s not a lot of accountability and the government and the vendors dispute responsibility and as a result, thousands of people in DC either lose their benefits or face unusually long delays that are also really damaging.

OT: What did that look like, visually?
XN:
It takes abstract oppressing social issues and creates interactive, immersive big pieces to bring attention. I also wanted people to do something. People left their reactions, or their own stories on the walls of the exhibit.

OT: Where will the installation go next?
XN:
That installation is evolving. My co-artist Mollie Ruskin and I learned about a lawsuit a collection of legal aid organizations had brought against the city to seek justice for all the people who had lost their benefits or faced delays. We are now working with one of the main organizations that brought the suit, Bread for the City, and they are going to install it temporarily in their space.

OT: Any other notable projects?
XN:
I also like traditional, representational art. [This project] started off with not having any photographs of what my older relatives looked like when they were young because they couldn’t afford photography or they had to destroy when the Communists took over, and I just started drawing what I thought my grandmother looked like when she was my age. It felt like I was reclaiming my history and also underscoring that I could never actually access that history. It has morphed into this less personal project, which is drawing possible portraits from the future.

OT: How do you draw portraits from the future?
XN:
It’s like time travel in portraiture. It’s work that usually happens one-on-one with someone interested in orienting. It’s partially like a guided meditation [or] playful interview where I transport people to a scene from their possible future life. What I’ve really enjoyed about it is both what people come up with and their emotional reactions. Usually someone cries.

Follow Ni on Instagram @msknee and check out www.averyseriousdesigner.com.

Photo: Ashley Llanes

MAPS GLOVER

On Tap: You do a lot of performance art, as well as working within more traditional mediums. What drives you creatively?
Maps Glover:
DC has this electric energy that forces you to address social issues on a daily basis, and so that’s really what has kept me here and fueled my practice. A lot of my work really is a commentary about social dynamics. Where are we going? What are we trying to understand?

OT: Is that why you came back to DC?
MG:
Yes. I started making art in college and transitioned into doing things in New York. Coming back home, I wanted to see what I could contribute to this scene. There weren’t a lot of artists that were doing performance and I really wanted to dive into understanding what that felt like in DC. I felt like DC was a really good space to do it because it’s the intersection of politics and anti-establishment.

OT: When you’re approaching a new project, what are the most important factors?
MG:
Sometimes it’s a matter of what is fueling me at the time. Sometimes it’s something I feel really passionate about, or sometimes I have personal relationships with the subject, whether it be police violence or some of the work that really feels like an introspective experience of me analyzing my internal dialogue through visual interpretation. As an artist, I personally feel like it’s our responsibility to be social commentators. There are issues that may come up that we may not be fully familiar with, but to creatively explore those topics, I think that artists should try to be more fearless in taking on different spaces that don’t necessarily relate to them.

OT: In those instances, how do you get to the point of understanding something well enough to create something that you feel can open the dialogue?
MG:
I think that you should educate yourself first and foremost. At the same time, the artistic process is a learning one. It’s kind of like this experimental method and then it becomes this conversation of how does this connect to the larger picture?


MAPS CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
My sketchbook
Micron pens
Talenti mint gelato
Hugs from my very special friend
My mom’s cooking (tries to get down to her house every other week to grab a plate of food)


OT: There are times when it must be a struggle between letting this process happen and also being aware of what it means to people once you put it out there.
MG:
That happens all the time, honestly. I’m always looking for the experience that I’m having to be real and true to myself and then I just see other people witnessing that – the authentic experience that I have within myself. For example, I did an exhibition at the Transformer gallery back in October and I really wanted to create a space that was a response to the spiritual connection that I was really beginning to have a dialogue about in my work.

OT: How did you do that within the bounds of a gallery?
MG:
We had six weeks with each artist. We transformed Transformer. My religious background is Christian, so I was eventually crucified within the center of the stage. I had a friend who grew up in a cult, so she did a kind of ritual ceremony. I had a friend create a website live and DJ at the same time. It just had so many layers, and that is why I felt like the piece was successful.

OT: DC is in an interesting place in terms of what it does and doesn’t support in the arts. What do you think that looks like in terms of opportunities right now?
MG:
We need safe spaces for artists to be able to live and support themselves in a city that is continuously changing. If you don’t incorporate or consider the creatives who are part of the fabric of why people even come to this city, then what’s the point? The amount of channels and space for artists of all kinds to show is just very limited and everyone is scratching for the same resources. To get to the higher levels of creativity, people leave the city.

Learn more about Glover at www.acreativedc.com/maps-glover and follow him on Instagram @mapsglover.

Photo: courtesy of Kendra Kuliga

Drinkable Designs

“What I’m trying to do is provoke a reaction. What I see in the world, I’m trying to reflect that back.”

Michael Van Hall describes contemporary art as reflective. His work is found in all corners of the DMV, but not in galleries or on brick walls. Rather, it’s on shelves, in refrigerators and, after encounters with thirsty observers, in trash cans.

His canvas – no pun intended – is beer cans and he’s not the only artist dabbling in the craft brew world. As beverage options crop up around the city, one way for them to stand out is by having an aesthetically appealing product beyond taste.

Michael Van Hall’s Design for Stillwater Artisanal

“There’s a fandom around beer, kind of like music,” Van Hall continues. “It’s recognized as a venue for creativity. It allows and enables. In beer, the novelty doesn’t wear off because we’re always pushing.”

Van Hall has commissioned work for a number of breweries including DC Brau, Vanish Farmwoods Brewery and Aslin Beer Company, to name a few. He views each project as a chance to create art rather than branding, which allows him to take risks others may forgo.

“One of the primary things I tell them is you’re working with an artist, not a design company. You have to be ready to take risks and do things that are seemingly in contrast with good business. No board is going to approve what I do, but the customers will approve.”

Kendra Kuliga, 3 Stars Brewing Company’s designer, established her niche in the craft brew world by working on murals at Meridian Pint before moving onto posters, branding and labels. When 3 Stars founder Dave Coleman decided to begin bottling and canning their beer, he reached out to Kuliga to collaborate on the look.

“I wanted to see how the new craft beer scene was trying to identify itself as more independent and less corporate,” Kuliga says. “It was very clear that the canvas for a label was extremely art-friendly. You can make cartoons or intense battle scenes. It’s really up to you. It’s about finding a balance in detail and something that captures a customer’s eye.”

Unlike Van Hall, Kuliga works almost exclusively with 3 Stars as far as can design, so each creation carries an aesthetic she and Coleman developed and built from scratch.

“[Coleman] gives me ideas for what he wants. He’ll explain and then I’ll do the research and add details. There are label artists who are sought out for their art, but at the end of the day, I want to represent the people I’m working for. It takes a lot of people to come up with a beer and a label, and I want everyone to feel good.”

While Kuliga and Van Hall have made can design part of their careers, crating both one-off releases and year-round staples, there are other avenues for beer can art.

Image: courtesy of Maggie Dougherty

This month, DC Brau is set to distribute their third annual Pride Pils just in time for the District’s Capital Pride celebration. Like previous iterations of the limited brew, the famed beer company held a contest for what design would adorn the aluminum containers. This year’s winner was local artist Maggie Dougherty.

“I have been following the competition the last few years and I had a sketched design for the past two competitions, but I didn’t submit it,” Dougherty says. “With this year’s theme about Stonewall and its 50th anniversary, I thought it was a challenging mechanism to tell a story.”

Dougherty’s bright yellow design displays different colored flowers, each carrying its own significance, wrapped around an illustration of notable transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson. As with any artistic depiction of a weighty subject, Dougherty spent countless hours reading and learning. 

“I’m really honored to be the third design in this line, and I did feel the pressure to represent a community that I’m an ally to,” she says. “I wanted to highlight the life of someone who gave their life to this in a way I couldn’t possibly understand.”

But getting creative with cans isn’t exclusive to the craft industry. Pabst Blue Ribbon has held their annual Art Can contest since 2014 in an effort to inspire creative cans for their iconic beer. One of this year’s winners was DC visual artist Tenbeete Solomon, perhaps best known as Trap Bob.

“I was hoping to get my name in front of them, not even considering actually winning,” Solomon says. “I’ve never designed a beer can before but I am a beer drinker, so I’ve always wanted to.”

Her design will adorn 5 million of the company’s 24-oz. cans distributed starting on October 1. Rather than the traditional ribbon look, these special editions feature a more science fiction appeal featuring a spaceship and a large hand reaching out. 

Image: courtesy of Tenbeete Solomon

“Hands and space [and] aliens have always been major inspirations for me,” she says. “I wanted to really get out of the box and weird with my design, because I knew that was something not only PBR would appreciate but also people just walking through the grocery store. The design on a beer can is the most distributed form of branding for a [beer] company so having something creative, eye-grabbing and on top of that, supportive of the creative community, is the best branding you can have.”

Both Daugherty and Solomon indicate that designing a beer can was an enjoyable experience and one they’d revisit. Just as there are countless brewers behind the scenes working on new ways to bring you explosive flavors on the inside, there are now just as many hungry artists looking to make a splash on the outside.

Van Hall has noticed the growth in the medium and is on board for more people joining him in pushing the boundaries. For him, it’s justification for the work he’s become known for.

“It’s a magnet for artistic creativity and in a way, that’s very harmful to my business but I love it,” he says. “When I come up with a good label, it’s because I’m being pushed by the industry. There are so many people that are doing very good work, and that brings everybody up.”

Maggie Dougherty: @dockerty_creative; www.dockertycreative.com
Kendra Kuliga: @cielo.productions; www.cieloproductions.com
Tenbeete Solomon: @trapxbob; www.trapbob.com
Michael Van Hall: @opprobriations; www.opprobriations.com

Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group

Music Venues with a View

It’s no secret that DC is home to some of the best music venues in the country, attracting local to international acts and packing concert halls with fans every night of the week. Besides booking amazing talent, these venues provide beautiful spaces for music fans to congregate. From Frank Gehry-designed outdoor music meccas like Merriweather Post Pavilion to the retro-inspired personal touches of Villain & Saint, we picked a handful of our favorite spots offering more to look at than just the bands onstage.

9:30 Club

Photo: D-Hi aka Donnie G

Photo: D-Hi aka Donnie G

When celebrating 9:30 Club’s 35th anniversary, owner Seth Hurwitz had the idea to create a library of records of bands that had headlined the iconic venue in chronological order based on the album they had toured on. While initially part of their anniversary celebration, the visceral reactions the Hall of Records caused was enough to clear out part of the venue and make it a permanent installation.

“The time, effort and metal work put into the installation made it obvious that it couldn’t just be a one-week experience, especially when we saw the way people reacted to it,” says I.M.P. Communications Director

Audrey Fix Schaefer. The installation continues to draw visitors to the club, allowing them to reconnect with artists and reminisce on shows 9:30 has hosted over the years. 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

Chrysalis Theatre

Photo: Richie Downs

Photo: Richie Downs

In partnership with the nonprofit Inner Arbor Trust, this gorgeous green structure tucked in the woods on Merriweather Post Pavilion’s Symphony Woods property – just 200 yards from the main stage – is a venue by day and lighted sculpture by night.

The Marc Fornes-designed stage is modeled after, you guessed it, a chrysalis, and is made of 4,000 aluminum sheets. While Chrysalis hosts events and concerts with a special focus on family-friendly and communty programming, it’s completely open for use when not hosting an event.

By day, you can sit, read a book, and enjoy the beautiful greenery of the space. By night, you can check out the captivating lights embedded within the structure. 10431 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.innerarbortrust.org

Gypsy Sally’s Vinyl Lounge

Photo: Josh Brick

Photo: Josh Brick

Gypsy Sally’s vinyl lounge is “a bit of a mystery,” according to owner David Ensor.

“The Vinyl Lounge is designed to be a getaway,” he says. “As you enter from the main room or back door, you are greeted by an orange 70s VW van in an all-white room with black curtains.”

The eclectic outpost within the Georgetown music venue features a wide range of acts and a retro feel.

“When you reach the end of the darkened red hallway to your left, you find a brightly lit, small stage flanked by a bright red bar,” Ensor continues. “The long, light gray wall ahead is hung with various sized of photographs of the Grateful Dead. It’s a place to explore, scratch your head and wonder what the hell you just walked into.” 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Photo: Danielle Lavis Photography

Photo: Danielle Lavis Photography

The roof of the Frank Gehry-designed outdoor amphitheater collapsed from tempestuous winds this past winter. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the new and improved roof is now ready for Merriweather’s summer season.

“Once you learn everyone’s okay, it just becomes a mechanic’s job,” says I.M.P.’s Audrey Fix Schaefer. “The roof fell on Saturday, and by Sunday, we were in our offices with new plans.”

While the roof is ready for outdoor concert season and lends an even better view to concertgoers with lawn seats, visiting artists also have a top-of-the-line experience in store for them. Recent renovations to the venue also include a 40,000-square-foot backstage area modeled after a 1950s motel that’s able to accommodate up to 10 bands – complete with a pool, cabanas and an onsite masseuse for visiting performers. 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

Pearl Street Warehouse

Photo: Joy Asico

Photo: Joy Asico

The multi-use space is one of three music venues that now occupy District Wharf, but its layout and design make it totally unique.

“We built a convertible space featuring garage doors that can open up the venue to the diner area, or close it off for a private event,” say owners Bruce Gates and Nick Fontana. “We also have the ability to open the doors to Pearl Street, creating an outdoor space where we can interact with the community and people exploring The Wharf, exposing them to great live music. “

The inviting space also features an upstairs seating area for a great vantage point during a live show. 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Rock & Roll Hotel

Photo: John Shore

Photo: John Shore

The intimate H Street venue has some spooky vibes, due in part to the fact that it used to be a funeral home. While that didn’t necessarily inspire the design, you can still see its influence in the dark, plush atmosphere of the three-level space. It’s also one of the few music venues in the country to offer a rooftop deck, enticing concertgoers to grab a bite before and after shows and providing a neighborhood hangout for H Street residents.

“We knew how unique it would be to have a music venue with a rooftop deck in DC – a first,” says co-owner Steve Lambert. “We wanted a space that was open year-round where people could socialize without having to go to the concert hall or to the DJs on the second floor.” 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

Villain & Saint

Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group

Photo: Courtesy of RW Restaurant Group

Owned by local chef Robert Wiedmaier, this Bethesda venue and restaurant takes a “music first, food second” approach to everything that’s done in its 60s and 70s-inspired space.

“It’s comfortable, worn-in and reminiscent of a bygone era, like Keystone Korner in San Francisco,” Wiedmaier says. “It feels familiar. When you walk into a place like Villain & Saint, you can tell a lot of acts have come through. It’s a place [where] musicians would hang out if they were not performing.”

He notes framed artwork of legendary musicians, a saloon-style bar and gramophone “horns” from England turned into lighting fixtures as some of the venue’s most unique design accents. 7141 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.villainandsaint.com

Wolf Trap’s Filene Center

Photo: Courtesy of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Photo: Courtesy of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Wolf Trap’s programming is as one-of-a-kind as its setting. The venue is also a national park, nestled into the lush forests of Northern Virginia, and is easily accessible to DMV residents.

“Every aspect of the pavilion is designed to enhance the experience for artists and audiences,” says Wolf Trap President and CEO Arvind Manocha about the Filene Center. “I think the extensive use of natural materials, like the Douglas fir, coupled with the setting – nestled in over 100 acres of permanently protected lands, including rolling hills and a forest complete with walking trails and ponds – makes Wolf Trap an urban oasis.” 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Photo: Courtesy of NoMa BID

District of Design

Good, purposeful design makes a difference. Whether you’re dining at a new foodie spot, taking in views from a rooftop or exploring the art-covered exteriors of a city block, our surroundings have the ability to alter our feelings like few other elements can. Luckily, the DC area has no shortage of gorgeous spaces where you can live, work and play. We gathered essential design intel in six different neighborhoods and picked some of our favorite spots, so you can be surrounded by great style no matter where your day takes you.


Shaw

Hip Factors

Shaw has a long history of supporting the performing arts at still-functioning venues like Lincoln and Howard Theatres, and was even dubbed “Black Broadway” for showcasing many African-American artists including jazz musician Duke Ellington.

Ellington Lived in Shaw, and you can visit his home there to this day.

Multiuse apartments buildings like Atlantic Plumbing and The Shay feature restaurants and shops just below living spaces, making them an ideal spot for city dwellers who are looking for an all-access neighborhood.

Shopaholics rejoice. Shaw is just a few skips away from CityCenter DC, known for its high-end retailers.

Foodies will feel right at home in Shaw with a new restaurant to explore every night, including Michelin-starred restaurants like The Dabney in Blagden Alley and recent tastemakers Espita Mezcaleria and Unconventional Diner.

Facts from www.bisnow.com/washington-dc/news/neighborhood/fast-facts-shaw-69685

Art to Admire

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Dacha Beer Garden’s Elizabeth Taylor Mural
Painted by muralist Byron Peck, Dacha Beer Garden is home to this mural of the iconic actress and humanitarian. While DC is a city known for its large paintings of famous celebrities such as President Barack Obama, Prince and Marvin Gaye, this mural is definitely among the must-visit-in-person variety. 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Shaw Library
Nestled on the corner of 7th Street, the Shaw Neighborhood Library sports a creative triangular shape with glass windows and a multicolored piece of abstract art waving you into the modern, chic building. Whether you’re a bookworm or not, this library provides a unique twist on a local institution. 1630 7th St. NW, DC; www.dclibrary.org/watha

Delectable Design

Photo: Rey Lopez

Photo: Rey Lopez

Bresca
After inspiration from a trip to Iceland, Ryan Ratino was determined to give Bresca a clean, bold and charming look. And with the help of Richard Marcus Architects, the vision was fulfilled. The design includes a moss wall that allows guests to engage with the natural world and honeycomb accents that are a nod to Ratino’s playful personality and the restaurant’s emblem. 1906 14th St. NW, DC; www.brescadc.com

Photo: Rey Lopez

Photo: Rey Lopez

Hazel
With dark wood and natural light aplenty, this interior designed by Catherine Hailey Design is extremely inviting. The strung lights by artist Rick Singleton are especially eye-catching. Rounding out the patio are comfortable stretches of faux grass accompanied by comfortable seating for lounging and dining. 808 V St. NW, DC; www.hazelrestaurant.com

Design Denizens

Photo: Grant Langford

Photo: Grant Langford

Muralist Lisa Maria Thalhammer, “LOVE”

On Tap: What was the inspiration behind this piece?
Lisa Marie Thalhammer: Cultivating love and inspiring people to actually really care about others is the mission behind my “LOVE” artwork series. I truly believe that love is at the core of every social issue. I hope that my “LOVE” mural and signs encourage viewers to see the humanity in people that they differ from in order to come together to find a common ground that respects human rights. As an activist and member of the LGBTQ+ community, my artworks frequently represent humans in positions of strength and hope. The seven primary and secondary colors represent the chakra energy centers of the body and the accompanying tertiary colors represent interconnectivity. My mural repeats this 13-color spectrum geometrically to indicate each letter of the word “love” on four separate garage doors.

OT: Your piece has become one of the most Instagrammable murals in the city, with locals and visitors seeking it out. How does it feel to be responsible for such a popular work of art?
LMT: I feel honored and humbled by the public’s response to my “LOVE” artwork. It inspires me to keep doing this work of adding color and balance to the world through public art and murals. I’m now imagining a “LOVE” mural campaign that would take my “LOVE” series to other places that need healing.

Follow Lisa Marie Thalhammer’s art online at www.lisamariestudio.com and on Instagram at @lisamariestudio.

Photo: Aja Neal

Photo: Aja Neal

Muralist Rose Jaffe, “Let.Go”

On Tap: What was the inspiration behind this mural? What is its significance?
Rose Jaffe: This mural was inspired by a more personal theme than most of my other work. The past few years have involved a deep dive into healing, both mentally and physically. After years of Western medicine, I turned toward Eastern modalities and empowered myself to embrace natural forms of healing from meditation to medicinal plants. The two flowers on the wall are arnica and echinacea – two powerful healing flowers. The idea of letting go – releasing the bird – is a symbol for releasing what no longer serves us, and allowing movement into new stages of life.

OT: There are a lot of excellent murals and works of art in Shaw now. How do you feel the area has changed over the years?
RJ: The area, like many neighborhoods in Washington, has gentrified. And with that comes displacement of the communities that lived there before. There are good and bad parts to a changing neighborhood. I try and focus on what role I am playing in the movement of DC and shed light on the importance of maintaining strong and diverse communities by creating spaces for art.

To learn more about Jaffe’s art, visit her at rosejaffe.myportfolio.com and on Instagram at @rose_inks.


NoMA/Ivy City

Hip Factors

Looking to live the carless life? 86 percent of NoMa residents walk, bike or take public transport to work.

The NoMa Parks Foundation is developing great public spaces throughout the neighborhood. First up: Swampoodle Park, an 8,000-square-foot space at the corner of 3rd and L Streets Northeast that will include a dog park and children’s play structure. Later this year, the nonprofit will begin construction on a 2.5-acre park above New York Avenue that will serve as the neighborhood’s backyard and offer outdoor space for recreation and community gatherings. And in the underpasses at L and M Streets, compelling light installations that resulted from an international design competition are being installed.

NoMa was the first neighborhood in DC to offer free outdoor WiFi.

NoMa is home to many major companies and organizations including NPR, Google, CNN, Sirius XM, REI, Mathematica Policy Research, NeighborWorks and the World Resources Institute.

Hecht Warehouse in Ivy City is not only home to brand new apartments, but also drinking and dining destinations like One Eight Distilling, Atlas Brew Works and Big Chief are just down the block.

Union Market is home to some of DC’s best foodie spots as well, and the area frequently hosts other events at Dock5 next door.

Facts provided by NoMa BID, and the Hecht Warehouse and Union Market

Art to Admire

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

City Winery Mural
DC artist Aniekan Udofia is responsible for this explosive depiction of the flavor grapes can have. The popping purple provides a terrific contrast to the white brick canvas and can be admired before or after a glass of wine. 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; www.citywinery.com/washingtondc/

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Heart Wall
A mural from French artist Mr. Brainwash (we swear that’s what he’s called), the multi-colored hearts provide a burst of color on the white Union Market walls. This famous backdrop has been featured in numerous publications, and also caught the attention of Michelle Obama. 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.unionmarketdc.com

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Yoko Ono x Hirshhorn
If you’ve visited Union Market in the past year, Yoko Ono’s message reading “Relax. Your Heart Is Stronger Than What You Think!” is hard to miss. Using Ono’s text and minimalist style, the artwork is meant to compel folks to be adventurous and further consider what the heart wants. 1309 5th St. NE, DC; www.unionmarketdc.com

Where to Live

Photo: Courtesy of Hecht Warehouse

Photo: Courtesy of Hecht Warehouse

Historic Hecht Warehouse
Hecht Warehouse, originally built in 1937, was purchased by Douglas Development in 2011 and redeveloped into a mixed-use retail and residential complex in 2016. Maintaining its Streamline Moderne style, the warehouse now offers more than 300 residential units with twists on the era it’s from, including concrete flooring, subway-tiled bathrooms, exposed brick and oversized glass block windows. There’s also a speakeasy clubroom with billiards. Even if you’re not in the market for a new apartment, this building is a shining example of how to refresh rather than restart. 1401 New York Ave. NE, DC; www.hechtwarehouse.com

Design Denizen

Photo: Ron Ngiam

Photo: Ron Ngiam

CORE architecture + design Project Architect Christopher Peli, Cotton & Reed

On Tap: Cotton & Reed is DC’s first-ever rum distillery. How did that unique aspect factor into the design of the space?
Christopher Peli: What most influenced the design is not so much specifically rum but that Cotton & Reed distills their product from scratch and does not purchase neutral spirits. Being a small startup distillery and owning the process was a conscious decision with huge ramifications for their business model. So the design had to allow for ease of production and efficient storage in a tight space.

OT: Was there a conscious decision to keep the door relatively unmarked? Did it have anything to do with the low-key location among other, more industrial buildings?
CP:
Cotton & Reed were the first ones to be a part of this new generation of Union Market redevelopment – and they wanted to fit in with the surrounding wholesaler and traditional maker-culture neighborhood without triggering notions of gentrification. To reflect other business signage in the area, we made a conscious decision to place the “Distillery” sign on the roof, much like the historical market signs. There’s also a blade sign with the company name, perpendicular to the façade, which you see as you walk up or down 5th Street. You’ll notice that many existing merchants don’t display their specific brands but keep it more generic. You’ll see “Noodles,” “Wholesale” and “Mexican Fruits” on the building signs the company’s name secondary.

OT: Was keeping some industrial, open ceilings an intentional shout-out to union market’s history? Or was that more of a functional decision?
CP: The design definitely emphasizes the volume of the space. We even reinstalled the existing skylight, which fills the space with natural light the way it was originally designed. The façade was opened up much as before when it was an open market. We made the new architecture in the space seem like discreet elements within the larger volume, so there is a distinction between new and old.

OT: What was it like designing a space that’s part bar, part distillery?
CP: Our mantra as we designed the space was, “Don’t fight the building.” There could have been more structural interventions to the space but we wanted to be surgical and smart. The architecture already worked perfectly for the industrial function Cotton & Reed needed. The one-story section in the front seemed a natural fit for the bar and the two-story back space worked well for the distillery.

OT: How involved are the owners in the design aspect of a project like this?
CP: They were involved extensively. At CORE, all of our clients are very involved in every decision, which is critical to the success of their projects.

OT: What is the overall feeling you and the team are trying to evoke with the design and layout of Cotton & Reed?
CP: We wanted to evoke the feeling of reinhabiting an abandoned industrial space nature had taken over; it’s post-post-apocalyptic. We used building materials directly from the other neighborhood warehouses and supplemented with plant life and botanicals. In all the space is left mostly neutral, open and loose-programmed for flexibility to change seasonally or for specific events.

For more information about CORE architecture + design, visit www.coredc.com.

Cotton & Reed: 1330 5th St. NE, DC; www.cottonandreed.com


Capitol Riverfront

Hip Factors

The neighborhood has 52 local and national restaurants with seven on the way later this year.

There are 15 residential rooftops in the neighborhood, and some even have dog parks.

The Capitol Riverfront area has 10.5 acres designated for public parks.

The Washington Navy Yard Campus, founded in 1799, is the longest continually operating Navy facility in the U.S.

You can easily run a 5K through Capitol Riverfront. The loop around the Anacostia River bounded by the 11th Street Bridge and Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is equal to five kilometers.

D.C. United’s new Audi Field is only 1.3 miles from the National Mall and 780 feet from the Anacostia River.

Facts provided by the Capitol Riverfront BID

Instaworthy Spots

Photo: Courtesy of Capitol Riverfront

Photo: Courtesy of Capitol Riverfront

Canal Park Fountains
The Dancing Fountains located in the Southern block of Canal Park are a summer exclusive, as the area transforms into an ice rink when the weather chills. While this isn’t the only pretty picture available in the park, the fountains vibe with the warmer season aesthetic. 200 M St. SE, DC

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Dock 79 Sculptures
Completed in 2016, these painted steel sculptures stick out like a pleasant thumb, providing must-see stop across the street from Nationals Park. Think yellow is not your color? Give the vibrant shade another shot while posing with these powerful installations. 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Pedestrian Bridge
Finished in 2010, the 200-foot pedestrian bridge connecting restaurants and other establishments to Yards Park is a dazzling, spherical structure. Whether day or night, the geometric piece of art can serve as the backdrop to a picture of people or a standalone Instagram post by itself. 300 Water St. SE, DC

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Pepco Substation Mural
Sitting across from the newly completed Audi Field, these abstract murals are multicolored and easily absorbed by both art aficionados and those who like a good distraction. Artist Katherine Mann is responsible for these vivid movements. Across from Audi Field, 100 Potomac Ave. SW, DC

Photo: Trent Johnson

Photo: Trent Johnson

Top of the Yard Selfie Square
The little red square pictured isn’t the art; it’s simply a marker where folks can stand and get a full-on view of Nats Park. Without buildings or other obstructions in the way, the view is crystal clear, and makes for a perfect background for any baseball fan. 1265 First St. SE, DC

Where to Live

Photo: Courtesy of 1221 Van

Photo: Courtesy of 1221 Van

1221 Van
Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, 1221 Van encompasses contemporary, sleek living in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. With easy access to the Ballpark District, a community featuring restaurants, retail and entertainment, you’re a beat away from all of the fun. The interiors offer a warm, modern aesthetic, providing a soothing comfort. Some of the features include wood-inspired flooring, kitchens complete with stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, high-end fixtures and spa-inspired baths – combine that with the splendid rooftop view of DC’s top monuments, Nationals Park and the Anacostia River. 1221 Van St. SE, DC; www.1221van.com

Design Denizens

Members of DC design and architecture studio HapstakDemetriou+ talk the lavish looks of two of their Capital Riverfront projects, District Winery and RASA Indian Grill.

Photo: Courtesy of District Winery

Photo: Courtesy of District Winery

Bill Young on District Winery

On Tap: Tell me about the impressive installation of 5,000 wine bottles in the mezzanine of District Winery.
Bill Young: We approached this project with a mezzanine level in mind. It was critical to create additional square footage for a landing zone, giving patrons the ability to transition from event use to reception use on the second floor. The mezzanine level also gave us access to the second level of the two-story storage jewel boxes. These towers were designed to provide the extra, much-needed wine bottle storage in a thermally contained enclosure.

OT: What is the overall aesthetic of the winery?
BY: During the design process, the idea of the wooden beams and columns derived from a visit to an older winery in Virginia wine country where an old wooden barn was converted into a tasting room. There was a sense of warmth in this setting that I didn’t necessarily want to recreate, but rather reinvestigate.

OT: Why did you decided to include a colorful wall of presidents in the restaurant space?
BY: We knew this wall was always going to showcase artwork that speaks to DC. The artist of the piece “Dads of Democracy” is Damon Dewitt who worked for Brooklyn Winery, the owner’s first winery in NYC.

OT: There are no other spaces in DC like District Winery. What were the challenges and advantages to working on a project like this?
BY: It’s exciting to be working on anything “first.” It allows for some type of non-preconceived notion in design approach. Essentially, our clients gave us great insight into what to expect in operational organizations since they have experience from their first urban winery in NY, but to create something in the magnitude of three massive programs in one space is challenging.

For more on District Winery, visit www.districtwinery.com and follow them on Instagram at @districtwinery.

District Winery: 385 Water St. SE, DC; www.districtwinery.com 

Photo: Rey Lopez

Photo: Rey Lopez

Michael Mason and Cristian Rosa on RASA Indian Grill

On Tap: The overall feeling of RASA is very colorful, whimsical and inviting. What was it like to evoke this overall aesthetic in a restaurant through design?
Michael Mason & Cristian Rosa: Striking the right balance of color and whimsy was a challenge. Much like when you want to serve very colorful food on dishware that best allows the colors to be fully expressed, the architecture of the space needed to be largely neutral with colors of greys, blacks and warm taupes to really allow the colorful elements to shine to their full brilliance.

OT: Can you tell me more about the art and why it was chosen?
MM & CR: The name RASA has many interconnected stories behind it. Coincidentally, [it contains] the first two letters of each of the owners’ names, but in Sanskrit “rasa” relates to “the essence of all” and “gives life meaning.” It influences art, music, literature and dance, among many others. Here the nine rasas are reflected in the flow and movement of the design in the space itself, and especially in the in the art so kindly provided by [co-owner] Sahil Rahman’s aunt Nandita Madan. Each of the nine paintings correspond to the nine rasas that are “the essence of all of our emotions”: love, joy, wonder, courage, peace, sadness, anger, fear and disgust.

OT: There are some other unique design touches in RASA, like the colorful bakeware used behind the counter and the coconut shell drinks. How did the use of things like this factor into the design as a whole?
MM & CR: The branding, menus, signage and the way the food is displayed all works together with the architecture and the interior design to define and reinforce the brand as a whole. The fun elements of the colorful bakeware were set against a black countertop to let them truly radiate, and the coconut shell drinks are all part of the larger story of a whole that balances on the unique touches.

For more on RASA, visit www.rasagrill.com and follow them on Instagram at @rasa.

RASA: 1247 First St. SE, DC; www.rasagrill.com

For more on HapstakDemetrieou+, visit www.hd-ad.com and follow them on Instagram at @hapstakdemetriou. HapstakDemetriou+: 2715 M St. NW, DC


District Wharf

Hip Factors

District Wharf is a vibrant neighborhood with more than 50 events per year that are free and open to the public.

District Wharf has four different unique piers: District Pier, Market Pier, Recreation Pier and Transit Pier.
The Maine Avenue Fish Market is the oldest continuously operating, open-air fish market in the country; it opened in 1805, 17 years before the Fulton Fish Market in New York City.

Bring your pets! District Wharf is a pet-friendly neighborhood, including public walkways and other gathering places.

Designed to achieve the LEED Gold for the entire Wharf development, the neighborhood features green roofs, 300 new trees, preservation of mature oaks and 340 square feet of floating wetland systems.

Facts provided by District Wharf

Appetizing Aesthetics

Photo: Courtesy of Del Mar

Photo: Courtesy of Del Mar

Del Mar
Paying tribute to Mallorca, Spain, restaurateurs Maria and Fabio Trabocchi wanted their Southwest waterfront dining room to be as authentically Spanish as possible. With Spanish interior designers, the restaurant provides a breezy Mediterranean feel to couple with the delicious food on the menu. 791 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.delmardc.com

Photo: Courtesy of La Vie

Photo: Courtesy of La Vie

La Vie
With designer David Anthony Chenault at the helm, this Mediterranean newcomer brings themed rooms and a large terrace bar overlooking the Potomac River. With hanging chandeliers and greenery throughout, just being in the bar is a refreshing experience. 88 District Sq. Fifth floor, SW, DC; www.laviedc.com

Photo: Rey Lopez

Photo: Rey Lopez

Mi Vida
This 11,000-square-foot space boasts floor to ceiling windows with a panoramic view of the Potomac River. The KNEAD Hospitality + Design interior features The Wharf’s industrial aesthetic mixed with prevalent historic and contemporary Mexican inspirations, including the 19-foot Árbol de la Vida, or Tree of Life. 98 District Sq. SW, DC; www.mividamexico.com

Photo: Courtesy of Whiskey Charlie

Photo: Courtesy of Whiskey Charlie

Whiskey Charlie
An indoor-outdoor rooftop bar, this spot might give you the best birds-eye view of District Wharf. Even from inside the space, wall-length windows provide a mesmerizing look at the burgeoning waterfront. Complete with chocolate brown sofas, and adorable outdoor seating arrangements, this is a terrific spot for the outdoor season. 975 7th St. SW, DC;
www.whiskeycharliewharf.com

Where to Live

Photo: Courtesy of Bozzuto

Photo: Courtesy of Bozzuto

The Channel
With a rooftop pool and stunning amenity spaces, you will never feel the need to leave home. A vibrant community, this residence has dedicated spaces to restaurants and shops on the waterfront. Not to mention, The Anthem can be found at the center of the building, giving this location a cultured vibe through and through. 950 Maine Ave. SW, DC; www.dcchannel.com

Photo: Courtesy of Bozzuto

Photo: Courtesy of Bozzuto

Incanto
Life is better with a view, and Incanto is full of them – whether you’re coming home each day to contemporary finishes, where modern style blends effortlessly with ultimate comfort, or peeking out the window at the heart of the Wharf. This apartment not only provides an opportunity for urban living, but also gives a sophisticated modern apartment feel with light without subtle designs and streamlined features. 770 Maine Ave. SW, DC; www.incantodc.com

Design Denizen

Photo: Mike Kim

Photo: Mike Kim

PN Hoffman Executive Vice President Shawn Seaman on District Wharf’s Public Art and Developing a New DC Destination

On Tap: How did it feel as the ideas for what would look good in this neighborhood came to life?
Shawn Seaman: It was incredibly rewarding. I’m trained as an architect, so I spent a lot of time designing and imagining the between spaces to the parks, and nothing really compares to when you open the doors and see people on the swings and eating at the restaurants.

OT: What were your initial steps in planning the look and feel of District Wharf?
SS: We knew from the beginning we didn’t want a single architect or designer responsible for the entire site; I think that’s why people reacted negatively to the old design. We wanted architectural diversity for each of the buildings. The biggest idea was that we needed to plan waterside first, where the buildings would face the river. That’s sort of contrary to how it was done in the past. Being we were on the water, we had a unique concept to execute what types of uses and how many piers we would have and how they would interact.

OT: How often did you go back and forth on what the overall aesthetic would be, if at all? And how did you decide to go in the direction you ultimately did?
SS: We had a strong vision from the outset as far as the designs of the parks and public spaces. We had different architects on the vertical parcels, and we had different landscape architects on other spaces.

OT: We think some of the more interesting facets of the design, apart from the diversity in architecture, are the thoughtful pieces of artistic design in public spaces – like the torch, the swings and the lighting on Pearl Street. Can you tell me your thoughts on those?
SS: I’m glad you called it art, because it’s not art like a sculpture that you sit and stare at, but each of those in their own right is pretty fantastic. The torch at the end is a beacon for the end of the channel, and you see that and it’s an interpretation of the lighthouse. It’s also something you can sit around and enjoy on a cold night. The swings are something we saw in Charleston, SC that we liked, and it’s probably one of the best used elements of the Wharf. On a busy weekend, you’re hard pressed to find one to swing on. For Pearl Street, we have a lot of energy there at night, and we think the lighting on that street makes it feel more like a festival or market, and that’s important to activate the space.

OT: How much emphasis did you put into the lounge areas, especially with The Wharf’s location on the water?
SS: Yeah, seating was paramount in the design. In fact, the bench that runs the entire project is just that, it’s a bench. We saw an example of that in Copenhagen, and there people can sit on the edge and face in or face out. That was lacking in the old development, and there really wasn’t any place where you could sit and be by the water. It was really trying to create a variety of different spaces and places where people could occupy and enjoy the views, whether you’re buying something at the businesses or not.

OT: What are your favorite aspects of the look of The Wharf, and what new things do you think people will enjoy in the coming years?
SS: My favorite thing about The Wharf are the spaces between the buildings, and some of the more unexpected places like the alleys and through streets. Whether it’s Pearl Street or Water Street or Sutton Square, where a ton of places come together. The Piers, you can’t say enough about, with four public places that you can look on the water and then look back onto the city. The next phase is similar in size, maybe a little smaller, but it has a variety of ground floors and activities.

For more information about The Wharf, visit www.wharfdc.com.


Rosslyn

Hip Factors

Rosslyn has 13 permanent public artworks.

Rosslyn’s public green spaces range from a 90-acre national park oasis situated on the Potomac River to a three-acre urban park. There’s also a 60-foot urban parklet.

The neighborhood’s Continental Beer Garden is one of 25 outdoor dining options, and a favorite of the workforce and residents. All of them merge art, food and drinks.

Every year, Rosslyn hosts its very own Jazz Fest, a 28-year tradition that takes place in Gateway Park with an average of more than 10,000 attendees per year.

Along with Jazz Fest, the neighborhood BID hosts more than 160 events per year ranging from Farmers’s Markets to outdoor movies, concerts and a soon to be unveiled pop-up-shop experience.

Facts provided by Sage Communications, LLC

Art to Admire

Photos: Courtesy of Rosslyn BID

Photos: Courtesy of Rosslyn BID

Cupid’s Garden
The four-ton, stainless-steel sculpture consists of 23 polished arrows, acting as a street sign and abstract representation of movement and progress. The piece was created by DC-based sculptor Chris Gardner in 1994. Near 1400 Key Blvd. Arlington, VA

Darkstar Park (Photo - Courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

Dark Star Park
A mixture of sand and stone, these spheres were Arlington’s first major commissioned art project featuring sculptures resembling dying, extinguished stars. The piece, complete with shadow images inset in the ground, was constructed by Nancy Holt in 1984. 1655 N. Fort Myer Dr. Arlington, VA

liquidpixels (Photo - Courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

Liquid Pixels
Ned Kahn’s 42-foot-high panels are covered with 450,000 stainless steel disks brushed in gold. The piece is said to mimic the flow of air currents and light conditions on its surface. Kahn finished the project in 2002. 1801 N Lynn St. Arlington, VA

Quill 2 (Photo - Courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

Quill
Consisting of 19,500 circular dot elements attached to an aluminum surface, Quill’s glow is charged during the day and enhanced by street and traffic lights. Created by Christian Moeller, the artist partnered with Arlington Arts and Monday Properties to figure out the right pleasant image for folks on the busy corner. 1850 N. Moore St. Arlington, VA

Learn more about these works of art at www.rosslynva.org.

A Picturesque Parklet

Parklet 2 (Photo - Courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

The DC area’s first permanent parklet, a miniature resting place, the area was designed by Ignacia Ciocchini, a man famous for his work for CityBench in New York. The parklet is 30 feet wide and includes 18 chairs, five plaza tables and four planter boxes. If you look closely enough, many of the elements have perforations representing the Rosslyn skyline at night. On the corner of Oak Street and Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, VA

Design Denizen

Photo: Adam Brockett

Photo: Adam Brockett

General Manager Graham Dunn, Central Place Observatory Deck 

On Tap: The Rosslyn BID billed the observation deck as Rosslyn’s “public space in the sky.” What will this space be used for?
Graham Dunn: It’s primarily a tourist attraction, in the style of the One World Observatory in New York City. It offers a 360-degree view of Arlington, the Georgetown Waterfront, the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. You can pretty much see everything from Silver Spring to Alexandria.

OT: Can you tell us about the full food and beverage program that will be offered there?
GD: We’re featuring all local, Northern Virginia-based beer. That will include Port City, Solace, Lost Rhino and Mustang Sally. We’ll also be serving wine from Virginia wineries. On the 32nd floor, we have a champagne bar where you can grab a glass to enjoy while you watch the sunset. We’re currently working on a full menu of signature cocktails as well.

OT: How is the view offered by the deck different than other places where you can get a panoramic view of the city skyline?
GD: There are similar places like the top of the Watergate hotel and National Cathedral, but the Observation Deck is totally new. The way it’s laid out and the view of the city is incredible and totally unique.

OT: What makes Rosslyn a trendy place to live and sets it apart from other DC area neighborhoods, especially in terms of building design and art?
GD: As far as the Observation Deck goes, Arlington County residents have free access. We want them to become the ambassadors of the space. And we’re working to keep food and beverage prices comparable to other local venues. You can also rent out this space for events.

The Observation Deck: 1201 Wilson Blvd. #214, Arlington, VA; www.theviewofdc.com


Tysons

Hip Factors

The “Tysons Luxury Lilies” mural by renowned artist Naturel is a 25 x 100-foot work of art painted on a cement wall facing the entrance to the Greensboro Metro station. Lilies are the symbols of rebirth and transformation, fitting for Tysons as it goes through a major transformation.

Tysons will soon be organized around eight districts, each with a distinctive character and mix of land uses, that people will be able to seamlessly move between. The connectedness and uniqueness of each place will be mutually supportive, creating a 24-hour, vibrant urban center.

The highest density will soon be oriented toward Tysons’ four Metrorail stations, encouraging people to utilize public transit and helping to ease the burden on vehicular traffic.

Tysons is changing quickly: 14 buildings have been added to the skyline since 2011, and there are currently 2.6 million square feet of development under construction. It’s becoming an attractive place to live, and the number of residential units has grown by 41 percent since 2011.

The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center hosts a summer concert series as well as fitness classes, holiday and cultural festivities, and events for kids. The plaza connects Tysons Corner Center with the Metro station, serving as both a gathering space and a pedestrian connection.

Facts provided by www.fairfaxcounty.gov/tysons

A Beautiful Biergarten

Photo: Courtesy of Tysons Biergarten

Photo: Courtesy of Tysons Biergarten

With a main bier hall, basement bar, mezzanine and 10,000-square-foot patio, Tysons Biergarten is almost four separate experiences rolled into one. The patio is a straightforward outdoor biergarten, while the main bier hall contains a playful blue color and features flags of different countries hanging around the room – and going up a level to the mezzanine gives you much of the same feel. Tucked away underneath, the American Underground basement bar gives off an old-school saloon vibe teetering on the divey side. 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons, VA; www.tysonsbiergarten.com

A Metro-Based Mural

Photo: Courtesy of OCRR Tysons

Photo: Courtesy of OCRR Tysons

Speaking of Tysons Biergarten, the massive space arrived at the same time as a massive mural directly outside of the Greensboro Metro. The 100-foot mural, “Tysons Luxury Lilies,” was painted by international artist Naurel, also known as Lawrence Atoigue. The work features a serene foreground with flowers bursting upward from a peaceful stream. Along with teamwork from Tysons and Naurel, the piece was produced by Art Whino Executive Director Shane Pomajambo. www.artwhino.com

Design Denizen

Photo: M.K. Koszycki

Photo: M.K. Koszycki

Designer Anna Stratton, Teas’n You

On Tap: How did you come up with the design for Teas’nYou?
Anna Stratton: I met with the owners of Teas’n You and they took me through interior design plans. We bounced ideas around, as well as what spaces they were thinking of activating in terms of display.

OT: How would you describe the overall aesthetic of the design?
AS: The overall aesthetic of the displays presents an enchanting and ethereal feel. I used a lot of soft neutrals and metallics to help enhance the theme.

OT: How long did it take to install and create?
AS: All the displays were hand cut and treated, and therefore took a little more time to prep prior to installing. The window and wall took the longest in terms of installation time – about two hours for each.

OT: There are a lot of bubble tea shops in the DC area. How does the design of Teas’n You set it apart?
AS: I think Teasn’ You really expanded their realm in terms of customer experience and environment. They really took the time to make it a place people could enjoy, relax and even work in. Most shops have an in-and-out type of feel whereas Teasn’ You is very different from that.

Follow Stratton’s art and design on Instagram at @a.duvalart, and learn more about Teas’n You at www.teasnyou.com.

Teas’n You Fusion Tea House: 8032 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA; www.teasnyou.com

Photo: Violetta Markelou

A Day in the Life: Swatchroom’s Maggie O’Neill & Warren Weixler

An artist and an architect meet in DC, each with their own unique skill set. Realizing that they can accomplish more together, the artist says, “Let’s start a business.” And just like that, design, art and fabrication firm Swatchroom is founded.

While there’s more to their origin story than our abridged version above, a partnership did fall into place in 2013 because both artist and architect saw the strengths that could come with combining their individual experiences. Artist Maggie O’Neill’s background as a painter and designer paired with architect Warren Weixler’s experience at the helm of two design-build firms has made the duo unstoppable in the aesthetic formation of some of the DC area’s most sought-after interiors.

Swatchroom is responsible for the buzzworthy interiors of brand new Poca Madre in Penn Quarter and recently opened Morris American Bar in Shaw, just to name a few. No two Swatchroom designs are alike – the team takes pride in creating spaces that fit the vision of each space to a T while pushing creative boundaries and making people think. Weixler says every client has their own idiosyncrasies and way in which they like to function, so he and O’Neill have to learn what’s important to them and approach each design in a completely individualized way.

The designers are at the forefront of the creative renaissance that’s taken the city by storm over the past few years and continue to work in DC, and even across the globe, on a diverse portfolio of projects. We met the pair in their bustling Shaw studio, where the team was hard at work putting the finishing touches on several projects, to talk about their creative journey.

On Tap: How did you meet each other?
Maggie O’Neill: We met because I was working on a restaurant called Lincoln. [We started] collaborating on fabrication. In cases when I was designing for projects and I couldn’t bring [Warren] in as the architect, he would come in and help me work on a whole host of things.
Warren Weixler: I had a small boutique architecture firm called Design Operative. Around 2008, when the work went away and the bubble burst, I had the choice to lean on some other skill sets I had. When the work started to come back in, I had the choice to either get rid of all that stuff and just go back to only architecture, or to try and incorporate it all together. When Swatchroom started to stir about as an idea, I got really excited because I thought, “I can get away from the technical world of plans and permits and actually live in the architectural world.”

OT: What motivated you to station this brand-new business here in DC?
MO: I was born and raised here. Swatchroom had clients before it existed, so we have a base here. That base also has projects in other cities, which is exciting. That allows us to work in other markets across the U.S. and internationally.
WW: We want to try to lead some of the trends or the ways in which things are done. That’s much harder in a bigger city that’s established. If you go on Google and go to New York City and search “design firms,” like 2,000 pins drop. It doesn’t happen here. It’s growing, but we actually get to affect change in the restaurant industry [with] some of our clients. I think we’re extremely lucky to be in a position to help the growth of a city rather than try to fight everybody else to get jobs.

OT: A large portion of your work is restaurant and bar design. Why are you both drawn to those spaces?
MO: I’m a dreamer all day long, and we want you to use your imagination and to really just push people [to] this sort of Alice in Wonderland moment. You take somebody out of their real life and give them a treat for a little while. There’s just so much joy in that, and the restaurant industry has allowed us to do that.
WW: That is a new trend. How do you blur the lines of what [a space] is? The LINE Hotel is a perfect example of that. Is it a restaurant? Is it a hotel? Is it a workspace? Is it just a cool spot to hang out? It’s all of the above, it’s none of the above. Does it actually matter? Those conversations are really interesting. Rather than saying, “This is an office building, this is a restaurant, this is a hotel,” owners and developers are saying, “It doesn’t matter.”
MO: It’s great because there is no clean answer. I love all that muddiness. This is such a linear city, and it has been for so long. It’s been a city of Democrat versus Republican, “yes” versus “no,” you know – lines. And now there’s so much gray…
WW: …color, there’s so much color!
MO: I’m happy to say, while I don’t think we’re there yet, we’re a hell of a lot better off than we were.


Swatchroom Must-Haves
Music
Plants
Artwork
Natural light
Coffee in the a.m. + bar cart in the p.m.


OT: Your most recent restaurant project is Poca Madre, which opened its doors on June 19. Tell us about your design inspiration for this space.
MO: Victor Albisu is the chef, and he is [also] an artist and a passionate person. The aesthetic is modern Mexican and has this fresh, high contrast to it. It’s a lot of black and white with a ton of greenery and hints of brass, and a few powerful statements aesthetically and potentially politically. It’s a petite environment in that it’s not a big, vast space so wherever you are you will feel a kind of intimacy.
WW: [Albisu] came to us in a moment of growth. He wanted to change Del Campo, which had been around for five years or so, and wanted to bring a Taco Bamba to the city. He said “Okay, I’ll take the front half of the space, because it’s basically a big ‘L,’ and make that Taco Bamba on I Street. Let’s take the remainder and let’s make that this new concept.” We were not only part of the design, but also in helping another business owner get through a growth plateau to reinvent a space that they own.

OT: It sounds like every project you take on is very unique. Talk us through some of the everyday challenges you face.
WW: We have that responsibility as designers to say, “Don’t spend your money on that thing, spend it here,” so I think organizing the budget and the study of how that money works is super interesting. The other challenge from my technical mindset is how we tend to push the envelope on artwork with huge installations, large wall features and such. While all of that is extremely creative and flexible, building code is not. We’ll constantly come up with great ideas but have to worry about sprinkler heads or a fire alarm. How do we push the envelope but make sure it’s legal for the building? It’s fun to play in the conceptual world, but how do you actually execute that? I feel like that’s what we’re good at: figuring out how to get it done and how to get it made and who to use to do it.

OT: Would you say there’s a distinct Swatchroom style? How do you make each space different?
WW: Maybe we have a Swatchroom style, but I don’t know if it’s on purpose. I think we’ve really tried to dig into the narrative of the concept of the client and what that concept means to them and let that drive what the space looks like. We’ll all call each other to the table if we’re trying to repeat a material or a detail or do something again. We force ourselves to stay fresh that way. I think those two things combined have [led to a] portfolio where none of the work looks the same. I’ve even had potential clients come in and ask, “The same people did all of that?” We’re proud of that. It should be different.

OT: You’ve achieved a lot as a design firm in a five-year span. How have your goals changed since 2013?
MO: Our first goal was to figure out how to manage the messaging to people we were already providing our services to. We grew by three or four more people that year, so the skill sets and talents those people brought in was part of our other goal: to actually bring in people that had different expertise [than us]. That way, the conversations and creative problem-solving are better.
WW: It was bootstrapped and organic, and we also made a pact that we’re not going to change for change’s sake, but we’re open to change. In these chapters of your business life, and as trends change, you have to change to stay current and to stay ahead. If we just jam the same process, we may not get the same results. [With] each chapter, we’re like, “Okay, let’s keep growing. Let’s keep changing for the better and keep organizing in different ways.” Luckily, our team is awesome in that they’re open to change, too.

Follow Swatchroom on Instagram at @swatchroom, O’Neill at @maggieoneilldc and Weixler at @warrenweixler. For more on Swatchroom, visit www.swatchroom.com.

Swatchroom: 1301 9th St. NW, DC; 202-808-3343; www.swatchroom.com